Title/Author: Under The Dome by Stephen King.
Narrated by: Juan Esparza.
Genre: Dark Fiction/Speculative Fiction.
Publisher: Recorded Books.
Favorite character: Romeo Burpee and Joe McClatchey.
Favorite Quote: "I like it because it is bitter and it is my heart." ~Pastor Piper Libby.
Synopsis: 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. ~Goodreads.com.
My Thoughts: I just have one thing to say: This was an amazing book, Baaaarrrrrbieeeeee. I mean readers. (But if you've listened to this, you know what I'm talking about.)
I had initially avoided it 1) because of the length 2) because I knew how the mystery of the dome got there and it seemed underwhelming 3) A few reviews said it was just over wordy. However, since there is not a lot of choice in my library for audio books I took this one out and I'm so glad I did. I LOVED it. So much in fact that when it was time to change the CD I would get frustrated because I didn't want to stop listening and would fumble for the next one as quickly as I could.
Yes, it is wordy and yes there is background on characters and situations that is possibly not needed. But I feel that King likes his readers to know exactly why some of his characters do certain things and think certain ways. One example that comes to mind is when the book explains that Jim Renie liked to watch the girls High School Basketball team because of their visciousness. Also, the Reverend Piper Libby wasn't just a spiritual leader in the town, she had deep seated anger issues and found her way to God through them. Plus, we all know that is King's style. I let all this go and maybe it was because I was listening to it that it didn't bother me. Perhaps if I was reading Under The Dome in print, it would have frustrated me more, butI'm in the car anyway (that's where I listen to my audio books) and I'm not going anywhere until I get out.
This is a powerful story and elicited a lot of emotions. I found myself cursing at some people (I even called one woman the "c" word out loud because I was so angry), rooting for others, and fearing for many lives. There are a lot of characters to follow and get to know and admittedly at first it was a bit difficult, but the people in the book soon fell into place.
Personally, I could see echoes of The Stand in terms of style. You have two factions of people trying to survive a new situation. One side is trying to do what's best for everyone and the other is trying to control and make sure their interests are taken care of first and foremost. It's scary when people use God as the reason for their behavior, no matter if that behavior is at the edge of darkness or bathing in it. It is ignorance at it's peak.
Also, as in many of King's books he makes use of the town as a character as well, fueled by the most powerful personalities. Mills is a small town with small town values, but nonetheless has it's fair share of secrets and corruption and becomes more polluted as the responsible parties become more powerful and greedy.
There are so many great characters in Under The Dome. Dale Barbara the main character and hero is someone I didn't think much of when the story started, but as King peeled back layer after layer you see him for who he truly is. A brave and good man who posesses more than meets the eye. I adored Joe McClathchey, the super smart 13 year old who thinks differently from those around him. I love kids who aren't bratty and posess a worldliness beyond their years. Pastor Piper Libby was another character that resonated with me. She is a dual person with deep levels of anger yet also tampers it with her religious belief. I also really loved Romeo Burpee, the owner of Burpee's Store. I don't know if it was just that he was so trustworthy, or if it was because of his portrayed accent and passion. The characters came to me with ease and felt real. There is glimpses of humor here too that let me connect with them more, like when Barbara and Rusty were joking around and playing word games in less than stellar circumstances.
The glitch that I felt is the documents that Brenda Perkins had in her posession outlining all of Jim Renie's misappropriations and actions. It kind of fell to the wayside and literally got lost in the shuffle and I wish it had been utilized. I didn't feel a big payoff for his bad behavior. Although what ultimately happens to him is realistic and believable I really, really wanted to see him exposed and made to account for his actions. Because I knew the reason for the dome beforehand, I went into the story not minding that the payoff might be (would be?) disappointing, so to be honest, I think that helped me enjoy the rest of the story.
Narration: Superb! I think it's the best audio I have ever encountered in a book. Each and every voice is different and distinct. And you know how some male voiceovers just can't get a woman's voice? They either go too high a falsetto or sound like they're whispery and seductive? Well Juan portrayals were seamless so I wasn't even thinking about any gender transition. It just flowed. With so many characters in UTD, you'd think he'd run out of "material" so to speak. But he has an arsenal of characters within him. From little children to old men to southerners to Yankees. I truly think this audiobook would never have been so enjoyable without his narration. I did wonder why Big Jim sounded like a southerner, but it still didn't bother me. He sounded arrogant and evil and I chalked up the way he spoke to his being so relaxed he was insolent.
Serendipitiously, The Dome is coming to television (CBS) as a mini-series in June and I can't wait! I am looking forward to seeing how they handle it.
All in all: A fabulous concoction of intriguing characters and the examination of human behavior under severe circumstances.