Under the Dome by Stephen King

read by Raul Esparza

The 'dome' is an invisible barrier which suddenly one day descends upon
Chester's Mill, a small American town, entombing its inhabitants in a pressure cooker of crime, venality, and greed: all the brutishness of fundamentalism and capitalism, and the United States in microcosm.

The main protagonist is Dale Barbara, a former soldier who has returned from the war in Iraq with a troubled conscience. Working as cook in the local diner, Barbara attracts the scorn and hatred of all the town's bullies - principally 'Big Jim', the town's political chief, his psychopath son Junior and Junior's deadbeat friends.

Attempts to breach the wall through bunker-buster bombs fail and, as the temperature inside the dome increases, all the town's petty and not so petty differences run riot. Electricity has been cut off from the start; then food, petrol and the propane for the 'jennies' start to run out or are requisitioned. People start to disappear. The Bible, naturally, contains all the explanations and solutions required.

'Big Jim' uses the situation for his own political and criminal ends; Barbara and Julia Shumway, editor of the local paper, form a resistance, Hummer vs Prius. Bush's indifference to global issues meets Obama's inability to persuade an ignorant and pigheaded majority. Chaos ensues. Promised land and Waste Land. And, in a startling denouement, the trapped survivors beg for redemption and for their way of life from unbelieving aliens. As flies to wanton boys are we to 'the leatherheads'.

King's ability to pick a grotesque theme and then to build tension and character is unrivalled in contemporary popular fiction. With over 24 hours of audio, this listener was gripped throughout - a tribute to reader Raul Esparza's bravura performance: measured and compelling. A genuine tour de force and highly recommended.
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