3-3.5 stars for me. I have to admit I was disappointed after Duma Key. Of the two recent King books that I have read, I felt Duma Key was far superior. Under the Dome is the return of King with a more epic scale. Duma Key is a more intimate book, similar to maybe Misery, which also had a very narrow character focus.
In Under the Dome, Chester Mills, yet another New England town in King’s universe of small towns, you have a vast set of characters, dealing with a disaster that happens straight in the first few minutes into the book. An invisible dome forms around the small town, keeping those inside in the town, and those on the outside stay out. The sudden creation of the dome causes lots of accidents that are described in King-style detail. The main protagonist is Dale Barbara, short Barbie, a cook who used to be in the military. He reminded me a bit of Stu in The Stand. You never find out how he ended up in the small town, but I guess it doesn’t matter. The military on the outside promote him to Colonel and want him to take control of the situation, but the power-hungry used car salesman Jim Rennie who also happens to be one of three political leaders of the town, takes control, hires town brutes as cops, and starts his reign of terror.
It’s not a boring book, there’s always something going on. It’s violent, and some of the details I really could have done without, but it definitely keeps you reading til the bitter end. Once you are done, you have read over a thousand pages of that crazy week of the small town under the dome, seen the dark tea time of the soul in there and probably found it just as predictable as I found it. It’d probably make an action packed movie, but one of the better Kings, it is not. It is merely entertaining instead of brilliant.