Under the Dome – Stephen King

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On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester's Mills, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener's hand is severed as "the dome" comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when--or if--it will go away.

Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens--town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician's assistant at the hospital, a selectwoman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing--even murder--to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry.

But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn't just short. It's running out.
Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Horror
Year: 2009
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Rating: 5/5

Oh wow. I just don't know where to begin with this book. It is a beast of a book at 880 pages and the plot is just EPIC! With over 100 characters, this book is jam-packed with action!

As the blurb states, the residents of Chester's Mill are stuck under a dome. It just appeared one day. No one knows where it came from or even what it is. It seems like some sort of force field, and it has the US military baffled.

As those outside the dome try their hardest to work out what it is, and bring it down, those inside the dome struggle to survive amid the panic, dwindling rations and limited air supply.

Second Selectman, Big Jim Rennie takes charge of the situation. He is the kind of guy that loves to be in control and exert power over others. You would think in a situation like this someone forceful would be the best leader. Think again. Big Jim only has one goal in life and that revolves around making himself look good. He also has some dirty secrets to hide. Big Jim hasn't been honest in his dealings or in the ways in which he makes his money, and he will do anything to keep these secrets hidden from the public. 

Too bad the late police chief was on to him, and now his wife knows too. Not only that, some of Big Jim's accomplices are feeling guilty about their sins, and feel the dome could be the will of God. Will they talk? Not if Big Jim can help it.

To make matters worse, Junior (Big Jim's only son), is much more like his father than he would like to admit. He has some secrets of his own. Secrets that could land him in a lot of trouble if he were found out.

Despite Big Jim's underhanded dealings and volatile personality, most of the resident's of Chester's Mill love and respect him. Most, not all. Those who can see what Big Jim is really like decide it's time to take a stand before he runs their town into the ground. But Big Jim has other plans.

What did I think?

Oh what a novel! Stephen King has pulled out all the punches with this one, creating a page turner that I just couldn't put down. Good job, Mr King! You have totally redeemed yourself from the failure which was Cell. All is forgiven. This is the best book I have read for a while and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Although there are so many characters in this book, King manages to give the majority of them distinct personalities and flesh them out well. Well enough to suit their purposes in the novel. It also doesn't get confusing, as I was worried it would. King is the master of characterisation and dealing with a large cast. He is the master of throwing ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances to see how they react. Brilliant.

He is also the master of suspense.. this book was chock full of it! It seemed like every chapter ended in a way in which made me want to keep reading. I was disappointed when I had to take a break (whether that was for work, dinner or just to rest my weary eyes – As I said, this book is HUGE).

I can't recommend this book highly enough for anyone who is a King fan, or just loves a good suspenseful story with some great characters.

I remember years ago King was talking about retiring as he had "run out of ideas". I am so glad he did not. This novel was fantastic.
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