A local blogger has been missing in action since last Thursday when she was caught under a dome with hundreds of other Stephen King characters in King’s 2010 book Under the Dome. Weighing in at just under 3 pounds and 1,088 pages, Under the Dome has been occupying blogger Jenners’s free time since last Friday when she first began reading the chunkster on her Kindle.
“I don’t know what happened,” said a distraught Jenners, who was interviewed in her home surrounded by dust and unwashed dishes. “I started the book and then the next thing I knew, I didn’t have time for anything else. I felt like I was there, under the dome, with the townsfolk of Chester’s Mill.”
Reports from family and friends indicate that Jenners was particularly snappish when interrupted and opted to stay inside and read rather than witness the building of the neighbor’s new firepit. In addition, Jenners’s husband, Mr. Jenners, was quoted as saying: “The housework really went to hell in a hand basket this week. It’s like she didn’t do anything but sit there and read this book. Every time I tried to talk with her or get her cook dinner, she would hiss ‘Shush’ and go back to reading. It was frightening. I haven’t seen her this involved in an epically long book since she got sucked into the Twilight saga two years ago. Lord, that was awful. She read the entire 1,034,432-page Twilight series in a week. Thankfully, the only residual effects of that was a crush on some British actor named Robert Patterson. Oh, and she sometimes calls out ‘Edward’ during lovemaking. Don’t know what that is about.”
After a long hiatus from Mr. King’s works (with the most recent encounter being Mr. King’s most excellent Bag of Bones), Jenners had forgotten how involving and engrossing Mr. King’s stories can be. Despite descriptions of horrible deaths and gruesome goings on, Jenners was riveted by the tale of an entire small town in Maine that was suddenly cut off from the rest of the world by an invisible dome. “From the start of the book when a plane crashes into the dome and body parts rain down onto a cow pasture, I knew that Mr. King was going to suck me in again. Despite the horrible things that happen in the book, I found myself having to go on, knowing that somewhere in there would be good people that I would have to root for and learn their fate.”
Putting the small town of Chester’s Mill under a dome, cut off from the rest of the world, was a premise that allowed King to explore some of his most-loved themes: good vs. evil, the personality of a small town, and how many different ways you can have your characters die. As with most of King’s books, there are good and bad people locked in an epic battle for the soul of the town and their very lives. On the side of good, we have: Dale Barbara (“Barbie”), an ex-army sergeant turned drifter who has just decided to leave town when the dome makes it impossible; Julia Shumway, the local newspaper editor and spinster; Rusty and Linda Everett, a married couple who work in the local hospital and police department respectively; and a group of skateboarding kids led by boy genius Joe McClatchey. On the side of bad, we have: Big Jim Rennie, Second Selectman and used car dealer, whose lust for power is kindled to an out-of-control fire when the dome gives him unbridled opportunities to impose his will on Chester’s Mill; Junior Rennie, Big Jim’s son, who has some rather special girlfriends he keeps in a pantry; and new members of the Chester’s Mill police force, whose willingness to use force to impose Big Jim’s will brings to mind The Lord of the Flies.
These few characters are just the tip of the iceberg. The book itself starts out with a map of the town and a cast of characters (including notable dogs of the town). Although Jenners reported that she was worried about keeping track of so many characters, the pacing and King’s narrative was such that it was easy to remember who was who. “I felt, for a brief time, that I was an inhabitant of the town. I got to know these people. Plus, following around an omniscient and talented narrator like King helps immensely. I love that I even got to go inside Horace the Corgi’s mind several times.”
By giving up the pretense of trying to clean house or interact with others, Jenners was able to finish up the book late Sunday night, much to the relief of her family. “Mommy was just interested in reading her book and didn’t want to pretend to be zoo animals with me,” commented The Little One. “Thank goodness we’ll have some clean clothes again,” sighed Mr. Jenners.
After finishing up, Jenners emerged from her reading area looking a bit dazed and confused but satisfied. “It was nice to be plunged back into Mr. King’s twisted imagination again,”she said. “I forgot how much he can draw you in to his story. It was like visiting with an old friend. If I had to give it a star ranking, I’d have to go with 4.5 stars if you’re a fan of vintage King and 4 stars if you’re just looking for a engrossing epic of good and evil and an exploration of what it means to be human. However, if you have a weak stomach, beware that there is lots of death, violence, descriptions of not-nice-ways to die and their aftermath. It was brutal but involving, and I think King has something to say about how even good people can be flawed but can overcome it.”
When asked if she would recommend it, Jenners said she would but cautions readers that the book may cause being up too late at night and neglect of family, friends and household duties. Now that she has her life back, Jenners is focused on getting the housework done, finding out what has been going on with others, and catching up on her blogging.