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.
©2009 Stephen King; (P)2009 Simon & Schuster
I thought this was a very solid effort by King. The basic premise focuses on what would happen if you put a general cross-section of the population in the proverbial fishbowl. While the immediate outcome wasn't particularly surprising, the ending (whatever you think it is, it's not) was completely surreal. I thought it was a definite Deus Ex move, but if we're being honest endings haven't been King's strong suit for a long time. I still love the man's work, but...
At the core, it is a detailed examination of humanity reduced to its raw core. They say your true self comes out in a crisis; this was accurate for the characters in King's work (as it usually is). I'm not really sure why this is listed under horror instead of sci-fi, but I guess it revolves around the author's name more than anything else.
All in all it is well worth a listen and a credit.
The first twenty one hours of this book had lots of moments that felt like listeners torture. It would have been deleted unfinished if I hadn't been so awed by 11-22-63. Fortunately, "Under the Dome" got a lot better in the final twelve hours.
Stephen King in his talk after the book finished (a great feature in both books) indicated that the book originally was larger and was shortened with input from a helper. Thank heavens for that --- because a longer version may have done me in.
More pages isn't always better. This book could have been shortened by about fifteen hours and become a very impressive story.
While having almost all the bad guys being rock-ribbed Republicans and fundamentalist Christians got tedious after 500 pages, King still provides gripping prose and engaging dialog, and I was hooked, until the end, which was anemic. Raul Esparza did a passable job at the narration, but it made me long for William Hurt and his nuanced, brilliant narration of Hearts in Atlantis. Still, if you don't mind a hefty does of King's leftwing politics and some strange vocal characterizations (especially for several of the women and most of the children), then this is well worth your time.
"Under the Dome" is being compared to King's earlier and greater work, "The Stand." "Dome" is entertaining, and I give it 3 points mostly for King-isms such as "Nothing runs like a Deere." (Of course the narrator deserves some credit for the delivery too.)
It's no "Stand," however. The big difference is that King devotes the entire work of the "Dome" to the subject covered in about 1/6 of "The Stand" - that is, the destruction of the world he's writing about. "The Stand" deals with that and then moves swiftly on to the part which I personally found more interesting; would it be possible to reconstruct society after the loss of so many people? That King had to use the hand-wavium of supernatural events to pull the protagonists together into one location shows that Stewart's "Earth Abides" describes the likelier outcome of such a catastrophe, but in "The Stand," King manages to pull off a fairly exciting work on the subject. In "Dome," however, King becomes one of those kids burning ants under a magnifying lens that he talks about in the book; he creates characters - some really evil bad guys and some weak and ineffectual good guys - then he spends the rest of the book watching them jump through hoops while everything goes crashing down around them.
If you thought the best part of "The Stand" was part 1, you'll enjoy "Under the Dome." If you're a hard core SF buff and would like a more character-driven and more scientifically interesting look at this notion of what would happen if you were cut off from the rest of the universe, I highly recommend Robert Charles Wilson's "Spin" instead.
I really enjoy listening to audio books and I especially like Stephen King. But let me warn you, the narrator of The Dome is bad beyond description. The characters sound like half surfer dude and half Georgia chain gang boss. One of the main female characters sounds like the Queen of England. Its too much - I'll opt to read the book someday. I can't believe the author would have approved this reading. I only gave it two stars because I'm sure the story itself is good.
Stephen King has written some smart, well written and interesting books, such as Duma Key and The Cell, and they were done well in audio.
But this book, Under the Dome, is one of SK's weak stories. I like books with smart villains, smart heroes and smart everyone, but in under the dome all the villains are idiots; and I can't sympathize with them at all.
I only barely made it through this book and sort of wish I had stopped when I knew it would be bad. But I don't really judge SK badly for having made this book. I heard him say he thought of this book in the 1970's and has wanted to write it since then. What he forgot, though, is that he's grown up as a writer; and he regressed with this story.
I am an entertainer...so I spend a lot of time on the road. I take my audio seriously. I appreciate great writing and outstanding narration.
I SO wanted to really LOVE this BIG book. But what happens when books drone on and on? The characters do silly things and the plot takes twists that make you go...huh?
A reasonable effort. Certainly listenable. Just make sure you have a number of "grains of salt" to help you get through it.
I really enjoyed this audiobook except where I feel the last segment (5 parts) was rushed and the ending was a bit disappointing. Not my typical Stephen King ending. The narrator is very good as he has the voice of many many characters. This is another thing you may need to know.. many many characters here. Overall a very interesting listen. Approximately 54 hours I believe. Well worth your money. It took me about 2 weeks to get the whole book through and with me taking every day to see what happens next. I took this week me to the pool and just sit and relaxed.
As with all Stephen King's books this one is a real page turner; however, the characters were one-dimensional. His endings are always a bit lame. Being a big King fan though, I can't dislike it.
There have been so many really scary stories from King where the fear comes from the external environment. Great scares! This story studies that the real scare comes from within human nature. Under unreasonable, undeniable external stress, humans can act unnaturally scary. This story studies how a core of rotten characters added to a crew of extremely susceptiple folks; can twist a normal community into a terrifying place to be. And, isn't the most real of tangible of fears those that come from inside?
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