Published in 2009, Stephen King’s 48th novel Under the Dome is a Stephen King book that sees the author returning to the science fiction genre, which he has dabbled in a bit in the past, most notably with his 1987 novel The Tommyknockers.
Under the dome is a rewrite of novel that Stephen King had tried to write in 1972, and another unfinished story on a similar theme called The Cannibals. King has said that, originally, The Cannibals was a social comedy, like Needful Things, but Under the Dome is a more serious look at what would happen when people are cut off from normal society. King has hinted in the past that, one day, The Cannibals might even be published as a completed work.
Under the Dome was adapted into a TV series, the first season of which was screened in 2013. The first season was very well received, but the subsequent two seasons didn’t go down so well. Nonetheless, it was one of the most successful TV adaptations of Stephen King’s work.
Under the Dome begins on what appears to be a very normal day in the Maine town of Chester’s Mill, but then the town is suddenly sealed off from the outside world by an invisible force field. People either side of the force field are cut off from one another, a plane crashes into the invisible barrier, birds fly blindly into it, and no one can get in or out of Chester’s Mill.
As time passes, inside the dome the very best of human nature, and the very worst, begins to emerge. Local politician Big Jim Rennie will do anything to hang on to his power, while a small team of kids and other citizens, led by short-order cook and Iraq vet Dale Barbara try to make sense of what is going on. Meanwhile, the government forces outside attempt to gain access to the town, but are unsuccessful. They think they have a man in inside in vet Dale Barbara, but big Jim Rennie, on the other hand, is not so keen on there being a government man on the inside, so he and his ragtag police force impose martial law. Rennie doesn’t just want to maintain his authority over the town, he also doesn’t want his profitable crystal meth production business discovered and disrupted.
The only supernatural element that plays a big part in Under the Dome is the dome itself. The book is more a study of people than it is of little green men. The little green men do exist in the book, but they turn out to be more like leatherhead kids playing a game than boggle eyed monsters from outer space on an invasion mission
Under the dome is a big book, even by Stephen King’s standards. It’s twice as long as Duma Key, which was criticized itself in some quarters for being too long. However, what you can always be sure of any Stephen King book is a depth of characterization that will draw deeper and deeper into the tale, and that’s exactly what you get Under the Dome. In fact, the longer the Stephen King book, the more you get immersed in it. You are simply not given the opportunity to get bored.
Will Under the Dome go down in history as one of Stephen King’s classics, such as The Stand and It? Possibly not; but it it’s a thoroughly good read and it’s certainly up there with the best of the Stephen King books.