King already imagined the apocalypse once in The Stand... and this post 9-11 version of The Bell Jar is a worthy follow-up. After a literal dome descends over Chester's Mill, Maine, the townspeople are variously resigned to their fate or utterly freaked out. Others end up stumbling around in a haze of migraine pain and murder a couple of ex-lovers (hey, it IS Stephen King). Most frightening of all isn't the expectation that the townspeople will turn on each other, but the taut tension created between the town's freethinkers (an ex-Army man, the editor of the local newspaper, and a trio of teenagers) and the establishment (town selectmen gorging on a pure power trip). Who will win out in the end? It could all go bad Under the Dome.
Although I've given King's longer novels a pass in recent years, choosing instead to stick to his well-shaped short stories, this was a pleasant surprise. Teens who love King will find appeal aplenty here, and adults who appreciate psychological horror are a natural audience. The science fiction angle may attract new readers to King - purchase in bulk (if you can lift them) for the holidays as the perfect gift for readers tired of sparkly vampires, zombies or werewolves.