Wow, this was a long one for me. I must've read a dozen other novels while this one was still going on, which is extremely unusual for me. Finally, last weekend I seemed to turn a corner with it and read the entire second half in one marathon push to the finish. I've been trying to work out why I found the first half such hard going. It certainly starts with a bang, and the mystery of the dome is established with the author's expected skill, but I think what possibly got the better of me for some time was the sheer, unadulterated human trash with whom a lot of the early drama is concerned, and the number of bad things that just keep happening to good people. Sometimes, King's characters are so contemptible that I can't muster the energy even to read about them. The Rennie's are perfect examples of that, as are the utter morons orbiting them. The book also manages a vast array of characters (I read somewhere that it was over a hundred?!) and frankly, it's often difficult to keep them all straight in your head. This eases up somewhat as the main actors move to the forefront, but it makes for an exhausting first third and I'm sure this also contributed to the fatigue that caused me to keep putting the thing down. I'll spoiler-tag the rest just in case. Spoiler It's when Barbie is thrown behind bars that things began to turn around. From about the food riot onwards, this thing motors. It still suffers a little bit from the huge cast, but as the mystery of the dome actually deepens (brave, Mr. King, very brave), and the narrative balance starts to shift towards our nominal good guys (and one curious pooch), we actually have people we start to really care about and cheer for... not all of whom will make it, but that's okay. The explosive climax is terrifying, tragic, and brings the narrative sharply into focus around the (few) survivors. There was a certain element of wiping not just the town but the whole plot and all of its characters off the face of the map, and I was surprised to find so little of the book left with major questions around the dome and its generator left basically unanswered (although of course, a "96% complete" Kindle indicator on a book this size still means there's a fair chunk to go), but ultimately I found the treatment of the aliens and Julia's solution extremely satisfying. It reminded me in no small part of It's final showdown, but in any case the story really isn't about the McGuffin, it's about the consequences, and I wouldn't have been seriously put out even if the generator had never been explained. In fact, there was a moment there where I thought the story was going to end with the Dome still in place and all our heroes dying on the inside. Overall the story offers a lot to think about, with the dome an allegory for any number of real-world barriers. I would like to think our world isn't populated with Rennie's and Randolph's, but alas, that just isn't the case, and rarely have I wanted to reach in and squeeze the life from a character as much as I did for our esteemed Second Selectman and his cronies. Overall I found "Under the Dome" hard work, but deeply satisfying, much as the author did, by the sound of it.