Under the Dome
In Stephen King’s return to epic form, the day-to-day small-town routine of Chester’s Mill, Maine, is suddenly disrupted when a force field is slipped over the town like a transparent Skinner box. The alien ant farm immediately goes about devolving into 3,000 folks getting about what 3,000 folks would go about doing if suddenly set to sweating out the bunker mentality. 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, building to a penultimate coda that rivals anything King has written for sure bloody-mindedness—which is a good thing, though it leaves the reader to stagger along with King through the closing pages as he tries to wrap the whole thing up. But King is obviously having fun here, the force field mostly serving as a McGuffin while he goes about indulging in social satire, the contents of the bubble playing out as a collection of political cartoons positing what ails the world as a whole.