I read this when it was first issued in paperback, about ten years ago. I’ve just read it again for my book club, and it was even more intense and demanding the second time around.
This story about totalitarianism taking hold in a small Maine town shut off from the outside world by an invisible dome is so gripping, so packed with vividly imagined characters and events that its more than 1,000 pages zip past. As things go from bad to worse, and then become even more malevolent, you read on in fascinated horror, hoping it’s not all going to get as bad it does. Then you keep on reading, because you’re desperate to know how the characters are going to escape the ghastly mess they’re trapped in. And knowing what’s about to happen only increases the tension, because you keep hoping that this time, somehow, they’ll find a way to avoid the approaching apocalypse.
There is a happy ending. Sort of. But it comes at a terrible price. And I think this is the reason SK’s books will be continue to be read for many years after his death. Because for as much as he writes about vampires and zombies, invisible domes and telekinesis and all things supernatural, everything he does write is so thoroughly grounded in the real world that we can’t fail to recognise the essential truths about human nature he’s illustrating.
Reading Under the Dome, we can’t hide from the unpleasant suspicion that, given the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time, life could quite easily go from the mundane to the murderous.