three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
44-Jan-Feb-2010
By: 
Stephen King
user_rating: 
0

A-Under the DomeUnder the Dome is Stephen King's latest apocalyptic horror show. What's left to say? After more than 75 books, he's still got the touch. Recently reviewed: Duma Key ( 4 of 5 Stars Mar/Apr 2008) and Just After Sunset: Stories ( 4 of 5 Stars Jan/Feb 2009).

The Story: No one in Chester's Mill, Maine, knows the reason for the appearance of an impenetrable dome over the town. But some enterprising residents don't waste any time wreaking havoc in their brave, new, hermetically sealed world. A militia of miscreants led by Big Jim Rennie, a born-again used-car salesman, takes control of the town's police department and threatens to establish its own banana republic. The only people standing in Rennie's way are a ragtag group of geeks (they're all here: a journalist, a librarian, an English professor, a few computer nerds) who look to Dale Barbara, an Iraq War veteran working as a fry cook, for salvation as they seek the truth about the dome's origin.
Scribner. 1,075 pages. $35. ISBN: 9781439148501

Christian Science Monitor 4 of 5 Stars
"This is King humming at the height of his powers, cackling at human folly, taking childish glee in the gross-out and all the while spinning a modern fable that asks some serious questions without sounding preachy. If the fury left a few excessive typos and a dog's name that mistakenly changes on occasion, well, these are (mostly) forgivable sins." Erik Spanberg

Dallas Morning News 4 of 5 Stars
"This book will remind many King readers of The Stand, long acknowledged as [King's] masterpiece. ... You'll definitely want to read this one, but trust me and do so in a well-ventilated room with plenty of sunlight and a source of fresh water nearby." Joy Tipping

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
"Hard as this thing is to hoist, it's even harder to put down. ... [The novel] has a great capacity for escapist fun, without which Mr. King could never lure readers through such a long trek." Janet Maslin

Newsday 4 of 5 Stars
"Readers looking for stylish prose and tastefully wrought internal conflict should excuse themselves from this book, as they have from the rest of King's novels and story collections, but they will be missing out (again). ... Under the Dome moves so fast and grips the reader so tightly that it's practically incapacitating, and most will probably lose the fight to make it last longer than a couple weeks." Sam Thielman

USA Today 4 of 5 Stars
"King dishes up a fantastic you'll-never-see-it-coming culprit behind this domesday scenario. ... In these days of text messages and Twitter novels, King grips us in a chokehold of un-put-downable fascination for more than 1,000 pages." Carol Memmott

Minneapolis Star Tribune 3.5 of 5 Stars
"In Under the Dome, King has crafted an absorbing novel that--despite being a bit unwieldy in places--is brutally honest about what it means to be human when survival may not be an option. ... When I realized things might not end well for the characters I cared about, like everyone else outside the dome I couldn't tear myself away." Carole E. Barrowman

Washington Post 3.5 of 5 Stars
"King couldn't give two hoots for ornamental language or lyrical phrasing, but you've got to admire him for making this so compelling. Although he's an undisputed master of suspense and terror, what gives King's work heft is his moral clarity." Graham Joyce

NY Times Book Review 3 of 5 Stars
"Given King's extraordinary career-long dominance, we might expect him at this point to be stylistically complete, turning perfect sentences, as breezily at home in his idiom as P. G. Wodehouse. ... We shouldn't be too squeamish about the odd half-baked simile or lapse into B-movie dialogue, is my point." James Parker

San Francisco Chronicle 2 of 5 Stars
"If you have read a Stephen King novel exceeding 500 pages, you probably don't need to read Under the Dome. If you do read Under the Dome, you might not need to read another Stephen King novel again." Michael Berry

Critical Summary

Stephen King. Come for the story, stay for the, well ... stay for the story. Even the most positive reviewers of King's latest doorstop felt compelled to mention King's writing style: how he drops a bad sentence every now and then or knocks out a few lines of tinny dialogue. Whom are the critics kidding? After keeping the publishing industry solvent since the Ford administration, King has become review proof. Sure, Under the Dome is a bit of social commentary and satire thinly disguised as a bloodbath. In Chester's Mill, the only thing higher than the price of propane is the body count. But that's the fun, and King is at full throttle. Read the book. Enjoy it. There will be no quiz.