Under the Dome
narrated by Raul Esparza
page count? a lot
death count? also a lot
I talked a little bit about this one already (leatherheads!), but I had to come back and ramble on about the characters. Because Under the Dome has my most favorite (to date) Stephen King bad guy:
Big Jim Rennie.
Dude is whacked. Seriously. I’m gonna go out on a limb and state that Rennie is scarier than Pennywise, because people like Rennie actually exist. On the surface he’s an upstanding citizen…town selectman, church-goer, business owner. But underneath? Whoa doggy.
(Side note on the narration of this puppy: Esparza nailed Rennie. He oozed fake sincerity. However, in my opinion, he had serious problems with all of the young women and teenage voices. They all sounded like 4 year-olds. It took me about 1/2 way through the audio to notice it, because most of the early characters are men and older women. Also, the Maine accents were hit and miss. And Rennie sounded like he was from the South. But then every time Rennie made an appearance I promptly forgot my issues, because OMG, that voice…aaaaahhh! Still, I’m not sure that I’d recommend the audio for this one.)
Back to Rennie. The guy is a megalomaniac, and I swear my anxiety spiked every time he made an appearance. He started off just slightly off. Like you knew he was up to no good, but you weren’t sure what that no good was. But then. He just got worse. And worse. And even worser. And just when you thought he couldn’t get any worser…he did! How worse? Let me count the ways (AND DON’T READ THIS IS IF YOU’RE GOING TO READ THE BOOK): First he starts off by manipulating a riot, then he moves on to murder, and then he sets up and arrests our beloved Barbie for the murders, and he manages to hire the town hoodlums to the police force (even though he’s not the police chief) and by the way, have I mentioned the meth lab (?!?) that he’s operating and then conspires to blow up? Oh, and when his kid dies…he’s happy! I told you the guy was whacked.
Luckily, to counteract all this badness, we have Barbie. Barbie (Dale Barbara, so Barbie is a he) is the voice of reason that can’t quite seem to get a break. I loved Barbie. He’s like Stu, only better, ’cause his Frannie is Julia, and Julia actually has a brain! (And that sentence only makes sense if you’ve read both Under the Dome and The Stand.)
While I actually liked the overall story of 11/22/63 better, I think Under the Dome is a fascinating look into what happens when a group of people are cut off from the rest of society (think Lord of the Flies). Everyone’s base nature is revealed…power-hungry people like Big Jim Rennie take advantage of the situation, ignoring the future and seeing only what is in it for them. Others, like Barbie, are forward thinking and work for solutions.
On second thought, maybe I like Under the Dome more.