Under the Dome by Stephen King
A Novel

74%

52 Critic Reviews

Under the Dome does more than give an extended "screw you" to the Palin-era Republicans, it showcases King's prime talent: the ability to evoke an utterly familiar and quotidian world invaded and illuminated by a manifestation of the uncanny. This is King's best novel since It, maybe since The Stand. Good thing he didn't retire the word processor.
-Toronto Star

Synopsis

On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester's Mill, 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 select-woman, 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.
 

About Stephen King

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Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King. Joe Hill is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Heart-Shaped Box and Horns and writes an ongoing comic book series, Locke & Key. He makes lots of noise on Twitter under the handle @joe_hill.
 
Published December 12, 2009 by Scribner. 657 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Horror, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Jan 13 2013
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Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for Under the Dome
All: 52 | Positive: 43 | Negative: 9

Kirkus

Good
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Sep 01 2009

It hardly matters that, after 1,000-plus pages, the yarn doesn’t quite add up. It’s vintage King: wonderfully written, good, creepy, old-school fun.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Janet Maslin on Nov 11 2009

“Under the Dome” has a well-stocked emotional arsenal. It also has a great capacity for escapist fun, without which Mr. King could never lure readers through such a long trek.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by JAMES PARKER on Nov 05 2009

Get ready, libruls, King seems to be saying: If the dome comes down, you’re going to need one another.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Euan Ferguson on Nov 29 2009

He had a grand idea, a long time ago, then hammered it out recently in a year and a half. He could have done it as skilfully in a month and saved us the hernias.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by John Harrison on Nov 13 2009

Causes are all present and identifiable, and evil is rendered safe by overstatement.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on Sep 14 2009

King's return to supernatural horror is uncomfortably bulky, formidably complex and irresistibly compelling.

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Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Joe Menta on Mar 19 2010

Really, like me, you'll probably end up wishing it didn't end so soon.

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Blog Critics

Above average
Reviewed by Dan Traeger on Oct 09 2009

It's well worth your reading investment though, as it's definitely King's best work to date.

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Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Terra King on Feb 04 2013

This is a great book, Stephen King outdid himself.

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Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Perry P. Perkins on Jan 14 2010

...this book is worth every single page. Great story, great characters, and (without giving too much away) a great ending. As usual, King kept me guessing until the last fifty pages, and then slapped me in the face with a resolution that I didn't see coming.

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Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Andy Williamson on Nov 23 2009

If you have not already done so, run, do not walk, to your local bookseller and pick up (with a grunt) Under the Dome.

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Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Carole E. Barrowman on Nov 14 2009

In "Under The Dome," King has crafted an absorbing novel that -- despite being a bit unwieldy in places -- is brutally honest about what it means to be human when survival may not be an option.

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Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on Jan 24 2011

Chester’s Mill and its townspeople will take over your life for days, just as the dome takes over Chester’s Mill.

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Globe and Mail

Excellent
Reviewed by Robert Wiersema on Nov 13 2009

This is a novel that will keep readers up all night, then haunt their dreams when they finally sleep. It is perhaps King's finest novel since The Stand, and that's just about the highest praise I can give.

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Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by James Grainger on Nov 15 2009

Under the Dome does more than give an extended "screw you" to the Palin-era Republicans, it showcases King's prime talent: the ability to evoke an utterly familiar and quotidian world invaded and illuminated by a manifestation of the uncanny. This is King's best novel since It, maybe since The Stand. Good thing he didn't retire the word processor.

Read Full Review of Under the Dome: A Novel | See more reviews from Toronto Star

Toronto Star

Above average
Reviewed by Malene Arpe on Nov 15 2009

It is the sprawling good-vs.-evil of the The Stand reigned in on a smaller stage.

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Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by James Grainger on Nov 15 2009

This is King's best novel since It, maybe since The Stand. Good thing he didn't retire the word processor.

Read Full Review of Under the Dome: A Novel | See more reviews from Toronto Star

AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Zack Handlen on Nov 25 2009

Sometimes the sense of place gets lost in the rush to the end, but the narrative is held together by a “worst choice possible” aesthetic, and an utter ruthlessness. It’s brutal, bloody, and an undeniable blast.

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LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Jedediah Berry on Nov 09 2009

"Under the Dome" is the work of a master storyteller having a whole lot of fun, and he makes it hard not to join in.

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The Washington Post

Good
Reviewed by Graham Joyce on Nov 14 2009

It's another work in an oeuvre that identifies compassion as the antidote to evil, whether that evil be human or supernatural.

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The Independent

Good
Reviewed by Matt Thorne on Nov 15 2009

Dome is an ambitious and impressive achievement that no fan will want to miss.

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The Telegraph

Above average
Reviewed by Lewis Jones on Oct 31 2009

The focus remains mainly on the human element, the “little lives” of characters engaged in an epic moral battle.

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Christian Science Monitor

Good
Reviewed by Erik Spanberg on Nov 17 2009

This is King humming at the height of his powers, cackling at human folly, taking childish glee in the gross-out and all the while spinning a modern fable that asks some serious questions without sounding preachy.

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Booklist Online

Above average
Reviewed by Ray Olson on Mar 21 2014

King keeps a huge cast very busy in his third-biggest novel ever, but most of its members are flimsily realized. However, his explanation for the dome has a prestigious pedigree (Shakespeare’s King Lear), and his way with mayhem remains nonpareil.

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Suite 101

Above average
Reviewed by Janina-Monique Wildewood on Jul 26 2010

Under the Dome is a good read for those that love a big novel full of action, suspense, and twists.

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Suite 101

Excellent
Reviewed by Lindsey Mason on Sep 27 2009

Under the Dome is a must-read for all Stephen King fans, thriller fans, and those who enjoy life-changing novels.

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Huffington Post

Good
Reviewed by Jackie K. Cooper on Dec 03 2009

It takes a while to read but Under the Dome is worth every minute spent on it.

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Pajiba

Above average
Reviewed by Jen K. on Jan 01 2010

It’s basically a lot like reading other Stephen King novels, with a few different elements.

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Oregon Live

Below average
Reviewed by Steve Duin on Dec 06 2009

Under the Dome -- all 1,072 pages -- is strangely dull.

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Review (Barnes & Noble)

Above average
Reviewed by Charles Taylor on Nov 10 2009

Under the Dome sustains itself for all of its length.

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Denver Post

Good
Reviewed by Dorman T. Shindler on Nov 29 2009

"Under the Dome" rates high on the list of the lap-crushing epics that also deliver page-turning thrills.

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BellaOnline

Above average
Reviewed by Alice Andersen on Jan 01 2010

This is a book that makes the reader question human behavior and ask yourself – what would you do?

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MostlyFiction Book Reviews

Above average
Reviewed by Lynn Harnett on Jul 08 2010

King’s latest is longer than it needs to be, but compulsively readable, like all his books.

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SF Signal

Excellent
Reviewed by John DeNardo on Dec 08 2009

Under the Dome thus works on two levels: as a dramatic, page-turning story about realistic people and as commentary on the recent political climate. It’s both entertaining and relevant. For this reason, Under the Dome offers an outstanding reading experience and is highly recommended.

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Book Buzz

Good
Reviewed by Gloria Fogal on Jan 19 2011

I’m glad I finally decided to give it a try because once I read about the woodchuck, not once did I consider putting it down until I was done.

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Oprah.com

Good
Reviewed by Cathleen Medwick on Jan 01 2010

Trust Stephen King to create more hellish scenarios, in the 1,072 pages of Under the Dome, than you could ever imagine, yet still have you wanting more.

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Book Forum

Below average
Reviewed by Justin Taylor on Nov 06 2009

For all its structural and stylistic problems, and despite its bloat, there is a lot to admire in this book, even a bit to love. That cataclysmic fire, for example, is one of the most vivid disaster scenes I have ever encountered in King's work...

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Strange Horizons

Below average
Reviewed by Abigail Nussbaum on Aug 02 2010

The former master of horror is no longer quite as sharp an evoker of place and character as he once was.

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Esquire

Excellent
Reviewed by Benjamin Percy on Nov 04 2009

King's ability to create a gripping world is so great, his pacing so effortlessly swift, that it can feel as if you're caught in a cat's claws, at once fearful of and delighted by the horrors the next page might bring.

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Open Salon

Good
Reviewed by Steven Axelrod on Dec 21 2009

This book is everything I hoped it would be –reiterating King’s favorite themes of enclosure and redemption, good versus evil, order versus anarchy.

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The Celebrity Cafe

Good
Reviewed by Justin Key on Dec 17 2009

"Under the Dome" is a great achievement in character development, social commentary and overall entertainment.

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Military.com

Good
Reviewed by Military on Nov 23 2009

It's well-paced, with plenty of action and subplots that come together before all is said and done.

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Shiny Book Review

Above average
Reviewed by Jason on Sep 13 2010

Recommended borrow from the library unless you have to have every King book.

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News Review.

Below average
Reviewed by Craig Blamer on Jan 07 2010

The main weakness of the narrative is that King slams the lid down on the town before there’s ample time to flesh out any of the players, leaving thinly drawn archetypes to scurry about under the magnifying glass. However, even at 1,000-plus pages, Under the Dome is a compulsive page-turner that rarely stops moving...

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California Literary Review

Excellent
Reviewed by Katherine Tomlinson on Nov 10 2009

Forget Blaze and Duma Key, the King is back. Long live the King.

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The Anniston Star

Below average
Reviewed by Brett Buckner on Jan 25 2010

Under the Dome simply isn't worth the effort. And that's what kept running through my mind disappointing chapter after disappointing chapter — I could have read three books by now ... three good books.

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Horror News Net

Above average
Reviewed by Todd Martin on Dec 19 2012

Was it good? Yes. Was it a literary masterpiece? No.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by LearnLoveLaugh on Feb 01 2010

Steven King definitely raised the bar for modern novels and delivered an intense, atypical story that every avid reader is dying to get a hold of!

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Helium

Good
Reviewed by Bruce W. Follett on Sep 02 2010

The book starts at a gallop and rarely even slows to a trot. King has thrown in enough mayhem to keep attention deficient gamers happy, and the last quarter of the book cranks the pace to a head-long sprint.

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Helium

Above average
Reviewed by Silva Payne on Feb 21 2010

The pace is maintained all the way through with subtle twists and turns and ever growing references to an end that is fast approaching.

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Reviewing the Evidence

Good
Reviewed by Sharon Katz on Oct 01 2010

UNDER THE DOME is worth the time it will take you to read it. Don't let the size of it frighten you.

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The Christian Manifesto

Good
Reviewed by Melissa Willis on Jan 12 2010

Under the Dome has almost everything I like in a novel—good suspense, great characters, original plot, realism, and lots to think about.

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Reader Rating for Under the Dome
78%

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Michael Manley 20 Aug 2013

Rated the book as 4 out of 5

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BruceNolan 20 Oct 2013

Rated the book as 4 out of 5

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