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Under the Dome

A Novel
Narrated by: Raul Esparza
Length: 34 hrs and 24 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (19,178 ratings)
Regular price: $46.60
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Publisher's Summary

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

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    3,109
  • 3 Stars
    1,094
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    298
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Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Best Stephen King I've Heard

Don't pass this great story up just due to some complaining in the narration department. That criticism is far overblown. The women sound like most men narrating women. A FEW minor characters rang false briefly.

The New England setting is PURELY for the color of the tree changes in fall. (For visual plot reasons, otherwise ANY small town in the south would do (see below).

So why do the "bad guys" have southern accents? I suppose our stereotypes & popular culture (our "zeitgeist")leads us to associate small minded or bizarre religious thinking to our "Bible Belt" (No offense intended, I know more of you are raised to be better mannered & more polite, and have fine religion beliefs than many "average" Americans.) But apparently the drawl is intentional, to creep you out and it does. Yes, very few people are religious fanatics but given the "dome" people's behaviors would indeed change.

One criticism is that the characters do act very in very bizarre ways - some explained by heavy drug use. I really didn't like how the book excessively glamorized some very dangerous and addictive substances but it was all needed for the plot and I didn't buy this book for moral guidance.

The plot works. The science fiction angle automatically adds enough verisimilitude (It's a big universe.) It is a well told story with decently drawn characters of sufficient depth.

Onto the story, it grabs you at once, in the first minute or two. Things start happening and the pace doesn't let up until a mighty climax.
I became quite fond of the heroes and hated the bad guys. That makes it a good book.

It's no masterpiece but it is one heck of an enthralling story. Just the concept of a dome is on Earth is original.

It kept me far more glued to the ears than many others books I've downloaded in months.

63 of 68 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Kaptivating King

Tons of characters and story lines that weave together perfectly with dialogue - this is what Stephen King does best and this book is another great example of his mastery. The dome puts a microscope on real people with everyday problems then it starts to fold them in on top of each other until everything collides. The only minor criticism I have is that the final scenes in the story take several hours to describe - it's like a football game with 2 minutes on the clock and both teams have all of their timeouts left - it takes 30 minutes to actually watch it. I guess skipping over parts would have garnered criticism as well though, so the detailed descriptions really are necessary to paint the complete picture. A really great listen overall - Raul Esparza is superb - I really hope he continues narrating.

29 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Stephen King!

34 hours and I didn't want it to end. Better than "The Stand".

19 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Glad I Listened to 11-22-63 First

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.

98 of 119 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Not a Stephen King horror or dark adventure story

I was worried about the title, but found that only a quarter of the way into the book my trepidations were well founded.
Without spoiling it too much, the story stays under the dome and the characters, pro and antagonistic, develop sides where the antagonists seem to rule with a very rude, obnoxious and maniacal hand.
But worse is that at several points I was led to believe there was a much deeper meaning to much of the story's plot, only to be disappointed at the end of the story.
From someone who enjoyed the horror of Salem's Lot, The Shining and myriad of his short stories and yet was drawn to the dark adventures in the Stand, The Dark Tower and The Talisman, "Under The Dome" held none of the horror or suspense I had come to expect and enjoy from Stephen King.
Now, since I have said all the negative I care to, let me say that Raul Esparza did a GREAT job of narration. The women didn't come off as well, but his reading of Renny, among other characters was awesome. I really started to loathe him and his associates and without Raul's well read performance I probably would have stopped listening halfway through the book.
If you are interested and want to give this book a shot, you are in for a comfortable "read". If you are expecting it to have anything to do with The Beam or any of the other Stephen King mythos, steer clear and move on to something else.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

A Good Listen, Though the Ending Disappoints

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.

45 of 56 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

No Stand

"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.

63 of 79 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Sure, Steve...

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.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Credit Worthy!

Wow - I am not generally a Stephen King fan, but I loved every bit of this one. I kept imagining a dome coming down as I was driving on the highway. Totally crazy to imagine - and King does it in full detail. This is a long one, but it holds your attention throughout. Narration is superb - distinctive voices for all of the huge cast.

Although King does go for full detail on some gore and depravity, this isn't a horror novel at all. I'd say it will appeal to anyone who likes a good small-town story, where the characters rule the roost. Human nature under a magnifying glass. With a little science fiction thrown in for good measure. Highly recommended!

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Unsophisticated Stephen King

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.

27 of 34 people found this review helpful