Before we begin, I thought I would point out something silly. Lee Child wrote the blurb that graces the trade paperback edition of Under the Dome, one that states: “Seven words: The best yet from the best ever.” Not only is Lee Child full of shit (no true King fan will call this novel his best work, not even close) but Child’s literary creation Jack Reacher is mentioned half a dozen times within King’s novel. That’s a lot for a character that doesn’t even belong to King. But that’s the business. You whack me off, I whack you off, and we all profit from the clean up. Is it any wonder why author blurbs equate to a puddle of warmed over spunk to most readers? And those who still believe these front cover grabbers are usually upset by the end of the book. Don’t believe me? Go read the reviews of Scott Smith’s The Ruins or Nick Cutter’s The Troop and count how many times you read something to the effect of “I only read this because of Uncle Stevie’s blurb on the front of the book. Is King doing drugs again, because this sucks!” Which begs the question: Do blurbs actually sell books? Better yet, would an honest blurb sell a book? How about this: “Under the Dome is a rollercoaster ride, but when it stops, the ride operator farts in your mouth.” Yeah… that probably wouldn’t sell many books. But goddamn if it isn’t the truest blurb I can think of for this book.
I first read Under the Dome when it came out in 2009. I wore out both my wrists trying to read the hardcover. I liked it all the way up until the ending. Not because it’s a cop out or too clean or any of the other complaints I heard, but because I knew it was coming. It happens in just about every King novel.
Hero has psychic link with villain/monster and is able to save the day.
But it works for King, and besides, I have a theory for why that happens. Is my theory a sorry attempt at me trying to explain my biggest literary hero’s oft-used crutch? Probably. But it makes sense, so fugoff! (I’ll explain my theory in the spoiler section toward the end of this review.)
While I have pretty much summed up Under the Dome in the blurb located at the end of the first paragraph of this review, I do feel the need to express how awesome the first 1020 pages of this book are. If you are a King fan, you’ll likely have fun. There’s very little filler. Anyone who would like to argue that this novel is bloated, I will throw down with you in the comment section, because everything in this book serves a purpose. Every chapter progresses the story. The problem/blessing is that there is so much story. But if one chapter had been cut, this pile of Lincoln Logs would most definitely tumble. It does not feel as large as King’s other 1000-page efforts, though. The Stand and IT are both massive in their own right, but they seem bigger in scope as well. Grander. This one is more The Tommyknockers kinda big. More Needful Things. It’s also better than the former and nowhere near as good as the latter. Everything happens over a short period of time, but the events do escalate. The inhabitants of Chester’s Mill are fucked by the end, albeit not quite as fucked as I would have hoped they would be.
If King is to be believed, and I think he is, he first started writing this book in the 70s. Some people believe that King says this to keep Under the Dome from being compared to The Simpson’s Movie. The only reason I believe King is because I started a novel back in the late nineties called Dark Side of the Mountain, wherein people get trapped inside a huge black sphere somewhere in the San Bernardino Mountains in California. People trapped by unseen/unknown forces… Yeah, the idea is not all that original. Anyfuck, King’s original title for Under the Dome was The Cannibals. I like the idea of that title. I like where King wanted to take us. People stuck under a freaky-ass dome. Food supplies start to deteriorate. People find other food sources… Rad. What we get instead is a pedal-to-the-medal horror/sci fi/thriller stuffed inside the confines of King’s typical small Maine town.
My biggest complaint is that all this feels like I’ve been here before. The Chef feels like Trashcan Man. Barbie feels like Jim Gardner. You have your witty old woman. Your racist/religious/power hungry villain. Your sick-and-dying baddie. Precocious children. And so on. This is a Stephen King novel. You either like that shit or you don’t. He’s done it better. He’s done it much, much, muchmuchmuch worse. All in all, this is just an average effort from an above average novelist who only writes a decent ending every five years or so. But if you’re a Stephen King fan, you know, “It’s about the journey, not the destinations.” At least that’s what King tells us.
Audiobook notes: Raúl Esparza is fantastic. This is one of the best King audiobooks for sale right now. It made my reread so much easier.
Television series notes: Fuck the television series. That series is garbage. Not garbage in the sense that it doesn’t follow the book (however, that is true), but garbage because it’s garbage. It’s poorly acted and shittily written.
Before clicking on this next spoiler tag, you must know that I will be spoiling far more than just this book. These are theories on how all of King’s novels tie together. Expect spoilers from his entire catalog. You’ve been warned.
I believe the Grays (The Tommyknockers), Pennywise (IT), the butt weaselsDreamcatcher, and the leatherfaces (Under the Dome) are all the same alien race and that they all originated in the Prim (consult the Stephen King wiki for what that is:http://darktower.wikia.com/wiki/Prim.) These are the creatures that gave humankind the knowledge that allowed us to become as technologically advanced as we’ve become. In the Dark Tower novels they are called the Old Ones.
Why does everyone in King’s novels have psychic powers? Because of the ship in The Tommyknockers. In that novel, there’s an alien spacecraft buried in the woods outside of Haven, Maine. That ship gives people psychic abilities and knowledge of advanced technology. Because there’s no way of telling when the craft landed there’s not way of telling how many people it “polluted” before Bobbi Anderson dug it up. This explains Carrie and every other pop-up psychic in the King-verse. Those psychics living outside the pollution area of Maine are children or relatives of people who’ve lived in Maine at some time or the other. Example: Danny Torrance and Doc Hallorann.
For more information on my theories and tie-ins, you can follow my quest here:https://edwardlorn.wordpress.com/52-i…
In summation: Despite the three-star rating, I say skip this one. If you want a great King epic, try The Stand. If you want a great story about a small town tearing itself apart, tryNeedful Things. There are just so many better King novels out there. If you wanna know where to start, I’ll be in the comment section answering questions.
Final Judgment: Dead fuck.