Under the Dome by Stephen King
Special feature: Author’s Afterword read by Stephen King
Short Review: A beautiful autumn day in the small town of Chester’s Mill, Maine is interrupted by a clear impenetrable dome which cuts it off from the outside world. Our story carries us along to meet a broad cast of local characters. Great reader and a captivating (but long) story.
Long Review: This massive, intricate and suspenseful novel drew me in and kept my attention from start to finish. I will admit that I am a sucker for character driven stories. I love getting to know people – learning their stories and watching their paths cross. About half-way through the story (so about fifteen hours in) I remembered this was a Stephen King novel. You have to know that he is going to take you on a wild ride. I like that there are some clear good guys and some clear bad guys, but most everyone we meet is somewhere in between (just like in the real world).
Thirty-five hours is a long time to listen to one person talk – so it was crucial they found a great reader. I feel that they did a great job. I cannot speak to the accuracy of Esparza’s accents – but I can say that I enjoyed his reading. His voices were creative enough to make character identification easy. His narration had a nice rhythm to it. Looking for a good story to listen to as you make a long distance drive? I suspect that Under the Dome could get you nearly across the country and keep you very entertained along the way. I also particularly enjoyed the afterword read by the author that shares some of the story behind the story.
There are only two things I would change. First – the MP3 CDs I listened to broke the book up by the large named sections – some as long as forty-five minutes. I usually listen to books in my car, but sometimes (especially when I am as engrossed in a book as I was in this one) I want to bring my CDs into my house to keep listening. Because of the very long sections this was basically impossible unless I was lucky enough to end my drive at the start of a new section.
The second change I would make would be to include the map of Chester’s Mill apparently included in the front of the print edition. A lot of the story depends on your mental mapping of this small town. Chester’s Mill is not just the setting – it feels like another character in the story. It would have been fabulous to be able to open up the CD case and look at the map while listening.
Overall, a big thumbs up for King’s latest effort. Not sure if this will be too scary for you? Well, I don’t love horror movies and I don’t seek out scary stories as a rule but there are a lot of not nice things in store for our merry band of small town residents. It did not give me nightmares but your mileage may vary.