Title: Under the Dome
Author: Stephen King
Narrator: Raul Esparza
Published: 2009; Pages: 1074
Audio Duration: 34 hrs, 29 mins
Genre: [Science] Fiction
In Short: A giant mysterious and inexplicable dome falls over the sleepy Maine town of Chester’s Mills.
Why I Read/Listened to it: My interest in Under the Dome grew after the first promo for the mini-series aired during the 2013 Superbowl. Several of us chitchatted about a readalong and here we are! A big thanks to Natalie from Coffee and a Book Chick for hosting the #DomeAlong
Thoughts in General: Dear readers. It is here that I will admit that I’ve been a bit of a book snob the past couple of years and am now wondering what the heck other great books and authors I’ve passed up on because I’ve assumed they’re too pulpy. And then here will I admit that I have a bit of a reader crush on Stephen King. It has been years since I’ve read so many of one author’s books in such a short time period (five in a year with another on the horizon) and soon he will be my most reviewed author in the six years I’ve been blogging. Crazy, right?
Why have I turned up my nose at poor King? Because I don’t like scary books! I used to read RL Stine and Christopher Pike in grade school and the books would keep me up all night. I loved them but it finally got to a point where I just couldn’t muster the courage anymore. I did pick up a few King books in high school but the timing was never quite right for me to actually read one. What I didn’t know about Stephen King was that he was such a masterful storyteller. He creates these fantastic worlds with characters that you adore and hate, both passionately, and their mythology and history becomes real. It has been such a long time since I’ve been this excited about books that I’ve read that I want to put them into everyone’s hands so they can share with me.
What else have I been missing out on?!
I supposed you want to know a bit about my actual experiences reading Under the Dome. Ugh. Fine. (wink). The beginning of Under the Dome was quite reminiscent of The Stand to me–there was an epidemic of sorts, a million characters, several deaths, story threads all over the place. I took a good 30% of the way into the book before things began clicking for me and I was hooked. But once King has you hooked, it’s tough to wriggle away! There are good characters and evil characters and some characters that you’re just not sure about. But all of the characters are fantastically drawn and incredibly human.
Under the Dome is quite long-winded (a bit like this post) and by the end you will know more about the characters and the town of Chester’s Mill than you could have ever imagined. It’s easy to forget that the events in the book span a relatively short period of time because it is so action-packed, but after that 30% at the beginning I think most readers will be perched at the edge of the chair while reading this one. It is a non-stop thrill-ride rollercoaster. Do I need to start including a disclaimer at the top of my posts that say “by the way, I’ll talk your head off but tell you very little about the actual book”?
Bottom Line: While Under the Dome isn’t my favorite King (so far), I found myself well immersed within the story and in the characters’ lives. Some characters I grew to love and others I grew to hate and I always appreciate that King can instill such a strong reaction in me. I had a tough time coming to terms with the reason for the dome but at the same time the reason felt like such a minor part of the book that it didn’t necessarily hinder my enjoyment. If pressed for a favorite King novel (so far), I’d say 11/22/63 (go read it!), but I certainly recommend Under the Dome as well. And fear not–there is some minor gore and mystery but certainly no horror. At least not of the Pennywise variety…
A Note on the Audio: Raul Esparza is a new-to-me narrator and it took a little while for me to fall into pace with his narration. I was grateful to have read a good chunk of the book before I started listening so that I could get the rhythm of the story down, especially as I had some difficulties reconciling some of the accents he chose for the characters. I give Esparza kudos for distinguishing each character’s accent from the other but it was also distracting and pulled me out of the story. Otherwise Esparza’s narration didn’t particularly stand out to me in any way. I don’t not recommend the audio but I can’t highly recommend it over reading either.
A Note on the Television Series: We finally took some time this past week to watch the first three episodes of Under the Dome on CBS. If you’ve been paying attention to the buzz around the show you might have heard that there are quite a few differences between the show and the book. Stephen King had a fairly heavy hand in the production and explains some of the reasoning for the changes in a letter to his fans. After about three episodes I think I’ve finally reconciled myself to the differences and can digest the book and the show as separate products. At this point, though, I can’t say that I’m particularly drawn in.
Where will I go from here? Well, next month Paxton and I will be hosting a readalong of The Talisman. Grab your copy and read with us! We’ll post details soon but we expect to read the month of August.
Have you read Under the Dome? Or have you watched any of the series? Or am I not doing a good enough job convincing you to pick up your first King book?