A confrontation with the locals force Dale Barbara (Barbie) to leave the town of Chester Mill. Before he can do so, however, a mysterious dome surrounds the entire town. Unfortunately, since Barbie is also trapped in a Stephen King novel, some people will act sensibly in this crises, others with do nothing, and others will act dangerously crazy.
First of all, Under the Dome is very long-more than a thousand pages. So if you are going to read this, be prepared to dedicate a lot of your reading time. I did like this novel more than Stephen King's recent books of late. I was genuinely sucked into the story, and I didn't want to put it down from start to finish. There is also some really amazing characterization and genuine terrifying moments in this novel. Not to mention the main object of curiosity-why was a dome put underneath Chester Mill? Is it a secret government plan? Extraterrestrial? Or maybe the work of someone inside the town, someone crazy.
Speaking of the Government, I have to give Stephen King points for not making a typically cliched plot of a Government conspiracy outside the dome. In this book, it is the complete opposite-the military are constantly coming up with new ways to destroy the dome and offering support to the main protagonist whenever they can give it.
It took me a while to pinpoint what I didn't like in this book. One of the problems is the main protagonist, Barbie. Barbie is a very smart character. He knows that a lot of people in Chester Mill are out for his blood, therefore he plays it under the radar as possible. The problem is that he does this for much of the entire book, until the reader is left wondering exactly why the antagonist hates this character with a passion when there are bigger and better fish to fry. I'm not entirely sure that all their confrontations couldn't have been resolved with a five minute sit-down meeting.
Another problem is the sheer number of characters in this book (about forty). Even Stephen King admits in his author's note that he delayed writing Under the Dome because he was overwhelmed by this problem. As a reader, I tried my best (and I'm sorry Stephen King!) but I was only really able to keep track of ten or twelve main characters. It didn't help that some of the characters were referred to both first and last names. On the plus side, however, I can almost guarantee that the reader will find someone to like and cheer for.
A book that has a thousand pages tends to give the reader the impression that a lot is happening in the book-and there is, but the actual timeframe of the book is relatively small. For example, after a reading a couple of hundred pages I started to wonder why a town meeting hadn't been called about this crises, and then I realized only four days had actually passed. Besides, town meetings only happen on Thursdays and pfft, no magical dome was going to change that!
This kind of does lead to another problem is well-at lot of this book is dedicated towards how the town reacts to the crises-but very little time is dedicated towards actually discovering the cause of the crises. I'm just saying, if my home town had been put under a mysterious dome, the first thing I would have done was organize the entire town to search every inch looking for a cause.
And while they were doing that, I would have looted their homes.
FINAL GRADE: 4 1/2 out of 5. Definitely a recommended read.