Under the Dome Review
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For a man who claims to be mostly retired, Stephen King certainly has been prolific—especially with Under the Dome, which is more than a thousand pages long. Once you start reading it, though, it won’t feel that long, and you’ll probably have to stop and catch your breath after the cataclysmic ending.

Dale Barbara—affectionately called Barbie by his friends—is an ex-army lieutenant who wandered into Chester’s Mill and took up fry-cook duties at Sweetbriar Rose. He only wants to lay low and stay out of trouble. Unfortunately, trouble always seems to find him. After a bunch of small town rednecks jump him, he decides it’s time to move on. But, on his way out of town, the Dome slams down, trapping him and the citizens of Chester’s Mill beneath a huge glass bubble. Suddenly, Dale finds himself promoted to colonel, with orders from outside the Dome to keep the town from going into a full-blown panic.

Second Selectman Jim Rennie unofficially runs the town, so when the Dome comes down, he’s ready to turn Chester’s Mill into a dictatorship because he thinks that’s what’s best for the people. His first order of business is to get rid of Dale Barbara before people start looking to him for leadership—and before he discovers that they’ve been running a meth lab for the past few years. With Dale out of the way, the townspeople will bow at Rennie’s feet, begging someone to take care of them.

With the help of Julia Shumway, owner/editor of the local newspaper, Dale sets out to keep order in the town and find the source of the Dome—and then, hopefully, find a way to turn it off. But with Second Selectman Rennie and his gang of followers working against him, things become a whole lot more complicated and dangerous.

Most Stephen King novels follow a similar theme: human nature at its worst. Yet he still manages to make it new and interesting each time. His bad guys are so mean-spirited that you’ll look forward to what’s coming to them before the end of the book—and Jim Rennie is no exception. I wished the worst possible fate upon him.

On the other side of the coin, though, King creates likeable characters like Dale Barbara, who seems to have a whole lot more common sense than the average bird. He’s also an unassuming hero, which makes him approachable. He’s someone you want to be around. Some men have heroism thrust upon them, and Dale is one of those guys. He handles it with a calmness that only a soldier can achieve in a crisis.

Filled with wit and humor and a host of colorful characters, Under the Dome will keep you up well past your bedtime. The plot builds and builds to a pressure point, and when the top blows off, the only thing you can do is hang on tight until it’s all over. Reading Under the Dome is like riding a roller coaster—it starts out slow, chugging up to the top, and then it hurls you toward the ground. You’ll hold your breath, squeeze your eyes shut, and hope for the best while preparing for the worst. Mr. King is definitely a master at what he does.

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