Title: Beyond the Dome: A Blue Collar Hero Author: C.S. Mills Publisher: C.S.Mills Language: English Format: Digital Pages: 161 Genre: Sci-Fi, Action Publication Date: December 16, 2016
After his father passed away, Kai Mallory aims to become a Blue Collar, a hero that will dedicate their lives to protect the dome, which was created to protect its inhabitants from savage beasts that roam the world. The path to becoming a Blue Collar isn’t an easy one, though. You must not only survive a night in the dangerous S-Grounds, but you must also synthesize with something and awaken your power. Failure to do so would result in rejection… if you escaped with your life. Should you pass, your journey to becoming a Blue Collar has only just begun.
Beyond the Dome: A Blue Collar Hero not only follows Kai, but six others in their quest to become Blue Collars. While the majority of the story is dedicated to this journey, we do end up with a twist where there is someone behind the scenes who has a vested interest in Kai. The back half of the story shifts to this person’s intentions and what it means for not just Kai and the other Blue Collar hopefuls, but to the rest of the inhabitants of the dome as well.
The story itself was pretty straight-forward and even with the introduction of the main antagonist, which served as the story’s pivotal twist, it didn’t really branch out in many directions. This isn’t a bad thing; however, as the story was supported very well through its diverse cast of characters, each with their own backstories.
Each character had their own distinct personality that set them apart from each other. Starting off with Kai, he became a shell of his former self since his father passed away. He would typically hide his face behind his hair and/or the hood on his sweater. Rarely speaking unless necessary, Kai drove home the fact that he suffered greatly from the loss of his father, but still felt a determination to honor him by becoming a Blue Collar. One has to ask at what cost though? Even those who tried to help him cope with his loss were pushed away. It’s almost if Kai wanted to shut the world off and confine himself to his own proverbial bubble. There were some flashes of regret in doing so, though, but the situation was never favorable for him to make amends with the one he pushed away most: Rey.
Rey was Kai’s childhood friend and, at one point, a possible love interest. She tried to help him cope with the loss of his father, but she was pushed away at every attempt. She, herself, began to wonder if she was destined to be alone and she, too, shut off her emotions. Unlike Kai; however, she had no trouble showing those emotions when she became angry. This even earned her the nickname of “stone face”. I liked how Rey broke her personality when she had been given just a sliver of hope that Kai would start talking to her. It showed that she was different from Kai in the fact that she was still yearning to be accepted. It was like she was reaching out hoping for someone to take hold of her hand and pull her out of her own darkness, but that hand just wouldn’t come.
Next up we had Clay who is a mixed bag. On one hand, he boasts about himself every chance he gets, thinking that he’s some kind of ladies’ man, but then he will cower and become nervous when the slightest hint of danger approaches. He is a character that likes to talk, but rarely wants to back it up. This changes a bit, though when he ends up meeting his brothers and sister inside of Rhi-vault. You get to see a more humble side of him, but thanks to his siblings’ antics, you kind of see where he gets his personality from. What started off as a rather obnoxious character turned into a pretty relatable one.
Sora reminded me of Silica and Pina from Sword Art Online… just more giggly and upbeat. Sora ends up synthesizing with a lesser beast… a bird named Lo. The two of them end up training to get stronger together. The only thing that bothered me about the character was that I felt her backstory was left unfinished. A moment was teased where her father, Icarius, had lied to her and she took off running only to come back and apologize. I would have liked to have seen that fleshed out a little more to see just what the lie was, if there was any to begin with. Other than that, Sora was just a typical bubbly girl.
Ra’d is Clay’s childhood friend and is kind of a quiet one. He does have a moment where he takes interest in Kai when he asks him what he synthesized with during their time in the S-Grounds. That was the only time we really see a personality change with him. Outside of this, he just seems to be Clay’s lackey more than his friend, but when a grave event befalls him, you do get to see the bond Clay has with Ra’d which proves that he is something more than just a simply lackey. Ra’d is a good example of a character you can sympathize and attach yourself to vicariously through the actions of other characters and not through the character directly.
Anastasia, or Tasia for short, felt more like a background character than any other. She seemed to take Runa’s side on quite a few occasions, but outside of this, she seemed to pop in whenever the story needed her to.
Speaking of Runa, she seemed like she would be the story’s main antagonist, but all of that changed with the introduction of Jun. With his introduction, you get to dive deep into Runa’s backstory to understand why she did the things she did. This helped you build a connection to her character and set up for a nice redemption moment. I won’t go into too much detail as it would serve as a major spoiler for the story.
Which is also why I won’t go into too much detail with Jun, either. He is the current ruler of the dome and anything beyond that would be a spoiler. I will say that his personality was a little over the top, but his actions supported the personality that the author gave him.
Finally, we have Ace. He is a Blue Collar and has been put in charge of watching over and training Kai, Rey, Clay, Ra’d, Tasia, Sora and Runa into become Blue Collars themselves. He has an outgoing personality, but doesn’t really seem to carry much authority with him. We find out that this is the first time he’s been put in charge of a group and even has doubts about himself being able to train them. Like Kai, he aspires to be like his late father and only wants to make him proud.
Beyond the Dome: A Blue Collar Hero was an enjoyable read from beginning to end. While the story was rather straightforward and didn’t really offer much in the way of twists and turns, it didn’t need to. The characters did a fantastic job of filling in those gaps and everything from their backstories to their powers all tie everything together nicely. Not every character was equal in importance in relation to the other, but it doesn’t really have to be that way. It seemed as if the characters filled their roles they were intended to fill, when they needed to be filled and that’s all that matters in the end.
The world itself was described really well. Everything from the environments of the S-Grounds, to the scales of the walls that surround the dome (which even come with a backstory as well), to Rhi-Vault itself, it was all easy to envision. It gave you a great sense of the world that the characters lived in and made it easy to picture them in each location!
My only complaint would be that we didn’t really get as much time establishing the main antagonist as I would have liked. The majority of the first part of the book focused on Kai and company’s journeys to becoming Blue Collars, but then we get our introduction to the antagonist and it felt just a little bit rushed after that. Everything still worked out in the end, but I just felt that he could have had a little more time to develop.
All in all, this was a very solid read and I recommend that you give it a shot! You can find it on Amazon or Smashwords for the obscenely high and ridiculous price of FREE! That’s right! This book will only cost you your time and after reading through it, I can assure you, it is time well spent!