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Under the Dome: A Novel

Under the Dome: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Stephen King
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (583 customer reviews)

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Amazon Review

The achievement of Stephen King is unlike that of any writer. He has taken a genre which was somewhat moribund when he came to it -- the horror novel -- and transformed it into one of the most phenomenally successful areas for quality popular writing -- what's more, his unprecedented sales success has inspired hundreds of imitators, and while few can match his inspiration (or, for that matter, his jawdropping productivity), there is no question that he has rejuvenated the horror field. Not that King confined himself to the strict parameters one might associate with the genre; several of his books -- such as this latest one, The Dome, stray into science fiction territory). But King’s achievement doesn't end there -- such is his influence over other genres (notably the crime and thriller field) that writers in those genres have been obliged to up the ante in terms of gruesome compulsiveness (Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter books, for instance, owe much to the King transformation of the popular literature field). And as for that loaded world – ‘literature’ -- isn't Stephen King reputed to be the author who has brought quality writing into a field not noted for such things? (Not, that is, since the halcyon days of Edgar Allen Poe in a previous century). Is that claim true of the new book?

So... The Dome. This massive novel, 25 years in the writing (if Stephen King is to be believed), is quite his most ambitious project, and brings to mind earlier blockbuster novels which aficionados considered to be among the writer's best work. Something like the basic premise here may be found in a classic piece of British science fiction, John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos (filmed as Village of the Damned). In that book, a village is isolated by an invisible force field -- and in the King novel, the residents can no more get out than the outside world can enter. John Wyndham's narrative involved the insemination of the women in the town by unseen alien presences, but Stephen King in The Dome has chosen to work in a different area. When the small New England town of Chester's Mill is cut off from the outside world by a mysterious force, all the laws of physics seem to be up for grabs; cars leaving town come up against invisible barriers, and there is death and mutilation for whatever was caught in the boundaries of an invisible field. Inside the dome, the inhabitants of the town deal with the catastrophe in a surprising (and often alarming) variety of ways: ex-military hero Dale Barbara has already come up against the antisocial elements of the town, and has been trying to get out. But the self-styled boss of the town, the demagogue Big Jim Rennie, soon establishes a Machiavellian control (another echo of the books of John Wyndham, in which catastrophe always throw up vicious, fascist-style leaders who capitalise on the disaster).

As ever, King develops his massive dramatis personae with great assurance, and demonstrates once again that his imagination in terms of plotting is as strong as ever. Those, however, who have made a case for King as a quality writer rather than a great popular entertainer will not find much ammunition for their arguments here, but this great sprawling canvas affords many pleasures. --Barry Forshaw


'King's most purely entertaining novel in years . . . utterly compelling.' (John Connolly)

'Staggeringly addictive.' (USA Today)

'Tight and energetic from start to finish.' (New York Times)

'The pedal is indeed to the metal.' (Guardian)

'You're sorry when it ends.' (Daily Express)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3697 KB
  • Print Length: 897 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reissue edition (24 Dec 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0030H7UIU
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (583 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,129,550 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. Among his most recent are the Dark Tower novels, Cell, From a Buick 8, Everything's Eventual, Hearts in Atlantis, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and Bag of Bones. His acclaimed nonfiction book, On Writing, was also a bestseller. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, Stephen King of old! 26 Sep 2013
By Bunty
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a really good read, I have throughly enjoyed the whole thing. Menacing and edgy, makes you wonder what you would do in the same sort of situation. Stephen King can write a story about people, doing things either they didn't know they were capable of, or hoped they weren't capable of. Give it a try. Watching it on TV at the moment, and it bears hardly any resemblance to the book, and is pretty dire. If I had seen the TV show first, I probably wouldn't have bought the book, so don't let it put you off, the book is much much better.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Familiar Tale Under The Dome 3 Feb 2012
Under The Dome is a book of 900 pages and an effective measure of Stephen King's development since his last doorstopper 31 years ago. Where the writing in The Stand was patchy and baggy, Under The Dome is consistent and lean. The cast of characters, major and minor, is handled much more skilfully. For Stephen King fans, Under The Dome will deliver the usual rewards: we are held, compelled, and propelled.

Are the usual rewards enough after 40 odd novels? We've been under Stephen King's dome for 35 years and every blade of grass is familiar to us, perhaps over familiar. The town in this story is a Maine small town filled with characters who are the usual stock and trade of a King novel: the small-town-punk-bully; his easily led friends; the settled-for-too-little-brainy-liberal; the fat-ageing-honest-policeman; the malevolent-town-big-shot; the nice-guy-hero-outsider. The punk-bully and his friends deliver the same after closing time beating to our new hero as they did to Nick Andros 31 years before in The Stand. His story is repeating itself.

The characters are not very complex; they're either good or they're bad and that's about it. So wholesome and dull are the good people of the little town that one would soon be driven to desperate acts were one confined with them. Like many a Stephen King hero, Dale Barbara is colourless, but good. As usual, only the bad guys have any real nuance or character development, principally "Big Jim" Rennie who's "feelin' it" moments are a fine insight into the puffed up village Napoleon. Other black hat characters have nice turns too.

We have the oft-repeated struggle between good and evil within the dome, with an added element: the dome itself. The dome is the most interesting character in the book.
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93 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, not perfect, but still great 24 Nov 2009
I read this brick of a book in a matter of days which is saying something as I have a full-time job and not an awful lot of time on my hands... all the same I literally couldn't help myself. Stephen King is nothing if not a bloody good read!

The premise is great, well-written and spooky and there are some brilliant characters. Also for the first half of the book a kind of supernatural whodunnit is played out (Who made the dome, was it aliens, the army, something/someone else?) which I found really enjoyable. All in all I really do feel it does stand up to scrutiny when compared to his previous classics; like IT and the Tommyknockers which I feel it owes a lot. Then again (unlike some reviewers) I am not a hater of modern king, I really loved Duma Key for example.

I have but two qualms, one is the children. Now I really really feel that before Mr King next puts pen to paper (or finger to laptop) he should go out and have a talk to a real 12-18 year old of today. I say this because Kings writing of modern day children and teenagers in Under the Dome is sometimes stilted, occasionally cloying and once or twice plain bad. At it's worse King sounds similar to a middle-aged politician using 'catch-phrases' and 'hip anecdotes' and references 'things that young people like' in an embarrassing attempt to be 'down with the kids'. Maybe if King just tried less hard to use 'youth lingo' with his young characters they'd feel more natural. That aside... I did like the three main young characters even if I had to wince at their dialogue a couple of times.

Secondly, the payoff was a little disappointing. I think the idea was pretty good and the final sequence was actually pretty well written but I guess I was hoping for one final injection of fear...
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62 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's more to King than meets the eye 19 Nov 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a long term Stephen King fan, I've been of the view for some time that his best work was behind him. However, with Cell and Duma Key, he seemed to be heading back to the King that I knew and loved when he was churning out books like The Stand, The Tommyknockers and It.

It was thus with some trepidation that I started to read Under the Dome. I'd desperately wanted to like the last 'old' novel that King had published, Blaze, but found that a terrible disappointment. And the early signs weren't good with Under the Dome. There's a very daunting list of 'dramatis personae' at the start of the book, and confusion reigned as seemingly hundreds of characters were introduced in the first fifty or so pages. Whereas King has handled large number of characters very successfully before, most notably in The Stand, that relied on reasonably long chapters to introduce each new group of people. In Under the Dome, there are seemingly dozens of new characters on every page at the start, and I can see readers being put off from carrying on unless they concentrate VERY hard on keeping track of who is who.

However, get through this, and the rewards are rich. When the dome comes down on Chester's Mill, Jim Rennie, the evil second selectman of the town, quickly seizes the reins of power, and the battle for power begins. On the one side is Rennie and his henchmen; on the other, a small group of townsfolk lead by Dale Barbara, a veteran of the Iraq war who, when the dome came down, was on the verge of leaving town. What follows demonstrates superbly the fact that the crimes of the few can bring suffering to the poor, as Rennie's tyranny takes root.
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