The master of horror is back!
And this time he’s here with an SF masterpiece!
A harrowing and powerful parable-like mystery!
Care to join us?
Because we’re going “Under the Dome”!
Who Should Read “Under the Dome”? And Why?
Even though many of Stephen King’s books combine elements of SF, fantasy and horror, “Under the Dome” is one of the books which has the least of the latter two.
So, it should mostly attract the attention of those who like Stephen King predominantly as an SF author. Especially those who have enjoyed “The Stand,” since this is another one of King’s “breakdown of society” stories.
In addition, “Under the Dome” may be an interesting read for anyone who likes to see King a little bit more engaged into politics: some of it is a not-so-covert commentary on the political situation in the United States under Bush, and, somewhat prophetically, under Trump as well!
Stephen King Biography
Stephen King is one of the most popular American writers, the author of about seventy books which have sold more than 350 million copies, making him one of the best-selling fiction authors in history.
Widely considered “The King of Horror,” King has authored some of the most famous works in the genre, such as “The Shining,” “Carrie,” “Misery” “It,” “Cujo” – and many more.
He is also an acclaimed SF author, having penned some classics in this genre as well – such as “The Stand” and “Under the Dome” – and a widely admired fantasy writer, famous for his critically acclaimed “The Dark Tower” series of books.
He has also written a few non-fiction works as well, such as “Danse Macabre” and “On Writing.”
Many of King’s books have been adapted for television or the cinema.
“Under the Dome” was turned into a three-seasons’ 39-episodes’ long CBS-produced TV show, one of the network’s greatest hits.
On Saturday, October 21, sixteen minutes before noon, an invisible barrier of unknown origin abruptly separates the fictional Maine town of Chester’s Mill from the outside world.
The very appearance of the barrier kills many people, while others remain trapped inside.
Former Army lieutenant Dale “Barbie” Barbara is one of the latter.
The irony is: he felt trapped inside Chester’s Mill even before the appearance of the barrier, which, in time, everybody starts calling the Dome.
In fact, at the moment the Dome emerged, Dale was attempting to flee the town, courtesy of a confrontation he had had with James “Junior” Rennie, the son of the most influential man in Chester’s Mill, the manipulative, Cheneyesque car/meth dealer James “Big Jim” Rennie.
Now, before the Dome, Big Jim served as the Second Selectman of Chester’s Mill.
However, the only inhabitant of the town who outranks him, Andy Sanders, is basically his puppet, and his only real opposition, police chief Howard “Duke” Perkins, dies soon after the appearance of the Dome as his pacemaker explodes once he gets too close to the barrier.
This means that as of October 21, Big Jim is the de facto leader of Chester’s Mill, which is good news for everybody but the good guys.
Big Jim quickly appoints his simple-minded friend Peter Randolph as the chief of police and expands the ranks of the police force with some dubious candidates.
Among them, his son Junior, who, unbeknownst to him, has actually grown to become a murderer, having killed two girls – Dodee Sanders, Andy’s daughter, and Angie McCain, the town’s flirt – possibly due to the migraine-fueled sociopathic mental state his debilitating (and undiagnosed) brain tumor has put him.
So, he doesn’t seem interested in putting an end to his murder spree, because, well, you know what they say:
Murder is like potato chips: you can’t stop with just one.
Fortunately, the U.S. government has no intention of letting Big Jim run the show, so, via Julia Shumway – a tough, cynical woman, the Republican editor of the local newspaper, “The Democrat” – Colonel James O. Cox contacts Dale Barbara with a simple message: find the power source of the Dome.
Via a Presidential order, Dave is brevetted to the rank of Colonel and is presented with a decree granting him authority over the township.
Needless to say, this doesn’t go well with Big Jim and Junior and results in a power struggle, which leads to Barbie being framed for four murders.
He is accused of slaughtering the two girls killed by Junior, as well as Reverend Lester Coggins and Brenda Perkins, Duke’s widow, both of whom are actually murdered by Big Jim: the former for having second thoughts about assisting Big Jim run his meth ring, and the latter for discovering a file on her husband’s computer detailing Big Jim’s money laundering schemes.
Barbie is put to jail, but, while he’s there – using a Geiger Counter – Julia and some other townspeople loyal to him manage to locate the source of the barrier inside an abandoned farm.
Soon, incised by the sheer number of restrictions and the extent of police brutality, the adds few members and breaks into the prison, freeing Barbie and killing Junior just seconds before the latter kills the former.
The rebels – 28 in number – flee to the abandoned farm where they soon conclude that the barrier-generating device is extraterrestrial in origin.
And – even more frightening – that it’s actually run by juvenile “leatherheads” as some cruel form of SF entertainment:
God turned out to be a bunch of bad little kids playing interstellar Xbox. Isn’t that funny?
Under the Dome Epilogue
Back in Chester’s Mill, Big Jim sends Peter Randolph and some guys from the police force to take back control of his meth operations from Phil “Chef” Bushey, who is hoarding about four hundred tanks of propane in the meth production facility.
The ensuing gunfight results in a frightening explosion, which incinerates more than a thousand of Chester Mill’s residents, leaving the remaining 300 fighting for breath in the toxic environment.
Among these 300 are Big Jim and his personal bodyguard, his dead son’s friend, Carter Thibodeau. The two fight each other for oxygen, and Big Jim disembowels Carter before dying himself due to the toxic air.
People start asphyxiating on the abandoned farm as well, leaving Barbie and Julia no option but to beg their extraterrestrial captors for pity.
Finally, Julia reaches out to a female “leatherhead,” who, freed from the peer pressure, eventually is convinced by her pleas to let her and the other 25 survivors go.
The Dome vanishes.
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“Under the Dome PDF Quotes”
Our Critical Review
Lee Child – the author of the “Jack Reacher” novel series – limited himself to seven monosyllabic words to describe “Under the Dome”: “the best yet from the best ever.”
We feel that he’s exaggerating a bit – what about “It,” “The Shining” or “The Stand,” Lee? – but we emphasize the “a bit” part: “Under the Dome” is “staggeringly addictive,” difficult-to-put-down which lives up to the expectations.
And, considering that Stephen King is the author, we don’t need to tell you that these are extremely high.