The Dead Zone is an excellent book. Once I started reading it, and became drawn into Johnny's amazing life, I literally could not put the book down. The emotion, the suspense, and my concern for Johnny and those he loved kept me reading, and I finished the book within a single day. It was effortless to sail through the pages of King's simple yet effective prose.
That said, although this book is not long and can be read quickly, it is NOT a light read. The story is complex, filled with thought-provoking symbols and motifs (for those who care to look for them), and the outcome of the story is heartwrenching to say the least. Over the course of the book I grew to care deeply for Johnny and Sarah, the star-crossed lovers, and it was very difficult for me to witness them both suffer so much by various twists of fate. King's writing, as always, conveys such depths of emotions, such humanity, such realism, that when I had finished reading the last page of this book, there was a sizable lump in my throat--and a few tears on my cheek.
I am not saying the ending is all bad. Indeed, Johnny achieves a major victory for himself and for the entire human race at the end of the book. But it doesn't come without a price.
I just thought I would warn potential readers of this book that although the book as a whole is riveting and captivating, you will feel sad when you get to the end. The overall depressing tone of the book is the reason I gave only 4 stars to a brillant book.
Johnny and Sarah and their story will stay in my mind a long time. Once again King has succeeded in telling a tale that is both suspenseful and moving.
Reason for Reading: I am re/reading Stephen King's books in chronological publishing order. This was my next book. I have also gotten into the habit of starting my year off with a Stephen King novel.
I was really looking forward to this one. I have fond memories of really enjoying the book. I have only read it once before which was this exact paperback copy and I would have been 12 at the time. I don't really remember the story from the book, though, as I have flashes of scenes from the movie with Christopher Walken in my head, some which actually don't even happen in the book. And I was a fan of the TV series which was loosely based on the same premise as the book. So it was great to re-read the original and get the real story firmly planted in my head again.
Excluding the Bachman books, up to this date "The Dead Zone" was King's first non-horror story. This is a story about a psychic and involves him solving a serial killer case and later on facing a prediction that he must decide whether he should take care of the problem before it happens and contemplates that age old hypothetical question, "If you could go back to 1932, knowing what you now know, would you murder Adolph Hitler?" The book carries a rather small cast, comparitively for a King book and we get to know Johnny, the main character, very well. He is very likable and someone we can relate to throughout the book. This book kept me up late at night as I just didn't want to put it down and had virtually forgotten how the book ended though it wasn't hard to predict. King uses very little stream of consiousness in this book; it is a plot driven novel with great character insight and a fast read. I loved it even more than I expected to! Great early King!
While re-reading these books, I also like to look for the connections to previous books and found three while reading. A girl actually mentions the book "Carrie", there is a street named Flagg (a nod to Randall Flagg from The Stand) and the town of Jerusalem's Lot is mentioned. (otherwise known as 'Salem's Lot).
If you are not really into horror books but would like to sample Stephen King, this is an excellent book for your first read and fans can't miss out on this classic old-school King novel.
I've always had sort of weird feelings about The Dead Zone. It is a fantastic novel, yet it has never rated among my personal King favorites. Maybe it's because I envision the story taking place in a cold, harsh world, devoid of color and light. This really isn't a horror novel at all, so there are really no thrills and chills to be found until the few exhilarating moments that make up the climax of this pretty depressing story. The Dead Zone is one of King's most accessible novels, however, and it exemplifies so many of this great author's strengths. First and foremost, the man knows how to tell a story - no one does it better, in my opinion. King's magic gift for characterization is also on display here, as John Smith, a thoroughly "Everyman" protagonist comes across as quite real and exceedingly human; he's a truly ordinary man placed in the most extraordinary of conditions. King truly does the character right in the form of a truly masterful conclusion, as well.
If you could go back in time to 1932 and meet Adolf Hitler, would you kill him? That's the kind of question that ultimately comes to consume Johnny's mind as this story nears its end. Would you sacrifice yourself for the lives of so many other people, virtually all of them strangers?
John Smith is just an ordinary fellow; he's got a job he enjoys, he's fallen in love with a good woman, and he's as happy as he's ever been. Then The Accident happens, and Johnny wakes up to learn that his world will never be the same. He's been in a coma for well over four years, and he faces a painful road to recovery both mentally and physically. His girl has married someone else, his mother has gone off the deep end of religious zeal, he faces painful, scarring surgeries in the brutal months ahead, and he really struggles to find a reason for living in such a harsh new world. He has gained something from the awful experience, however, and it's both a blessing and a curse. At times, he can see the future just by touching a person or an object. It's a frightening power, one that alienates him even further from those around him. When word gets out, he finds himself deluged with pleas for help from people all over the country. All he wants is to live an ordinary life again, but his psychic powers make this impossible. His mother believes God has special plans for Johnny, and in the end he thinks she may be right. He alone, as things turn out, can save his country and maybe the entire world from devastating future destruction wrought by a madman.
Smith is one of King's most sympathetic characters. He's one of us, really, and we suffer along with him as he starts life anew. His physical problems are horrendous, but they pale in comparison to his emotional loss. He's lost his girl, yet he can't even blame her for thinking he would never recover and thus starting her life anew in someone else's arms. He doesn't know what to think or do about this strange power he has developed; it scares people, and it scares him - yet he knows it allows him to do some good things for people. He also knows he can't run away from it. The problem is that no one really believes his predictions until they have proven themselves to be accurate. That is why he has to make the most heroic, most gut-wrenching decision of his life completely on his own.
John Smith is a fabulous character, and The Dead Zone is a truly masterful modern novel. While some of the subtext of the story is rooted in the 1970s, this really is a book for all seasons. It will never make my list of King's top five novels, but it's one of the most compelling stories you'll ever read.
on December 14, 2003
Overall, this book was very good. As I was reading it, I never wanted to stop. The main character was described very well, and his actions seemed to have merit. I had no problem with the basic premise of the story. The one problem I had was his ability to sense things by touching them. If he had this power he would have gone mad with images from everything around him giving him signals from the past or future. He would of had to live in a bubble to not get totally engossed by everything. Besides that one thing that annoyed me, I enjoyed this book fully. I put that flaw aside, and read the story for what it was, and it was very good reading. The author has characters you love or hate immeadiatly, and you remember the characters when you put the book down. I always thought that if you put a book down and think about the story weeks later, then it must have been a pretty good book. This novel is one of those books. The ending took me a little by surprise, but then I thought of who the author was, and thought that to myself that the ending he came up with was approriate. A book well worth reading.
on May 8, 2003
the main character is a man with potential psychic powers. sometimes he get visions. then he falls into a coma after an accident. wakes up after a few years. his psychic powers truly awakened. there is a lot of things that happen, so i won't go into detail. mainly in this story he gets to know that a certain man will become president and start nuclear warfare. and he must stop it. there is a lot of things happening before this, as he gets to know a lot of thing. there are some good details here. and i enjoyed the basic plot. but there should be but one plot here. the other things happening are not really sub-plots, just happenings, losing their relevance as we get to know what is really important here. so reading this the first time is interesting, re-reading it has always been a downer for me. kills a little of the suspence too. a murderer has relevance e.g., but considering nuclear warfare he is a boring sidetrack. i got into the characters, nothing to complain about there. the ending worked well.
on April 29, 2003
The Dead Zone by Stephen King is a suspense novel about a man named John Smith. He lives a normal life with a normal job as a teacher. He also has a girlfriend named Sarah. One night Jahn and Sarah go to the carnival in the next town over, and something very strange happens. Johnny walks up to the Wheel of Fortune, a wheel to make bets on and places his money down. Sure enough, the number spun was his number. He contunues to place bets and wins each time. To everyone's amazement, John wins five-hundred dollars before stopping. After dropping Sarah off at her home, John gets in to a taxi. At this moment, his luck starts to change. He gets in to a horrible accident that leaves him in a coma. He finally wakes four and a half years later to a totally different world. Sarah has married another man and his mother has become a religious lunatic. Even more different are Johhny's visions of the future, which he gets when touching people. This first occurs in the hospital when he tells a nurse about her house which is on fire. After this, Johnny helps solve a stirng of murders taking place in Castle Rock, Maine. Johnny's most horrific vision come afterwards. He has a vision of the end of the world when he shakes a local politician's hand.
I believe that this is an excellent book with a great story line. The way the autor uses symbolism and thrilling sub-plots to move the story along is amazing. With all these subplots the story still moves along very smoothly. It remains suspenseful and entertaining until the very end. My favorite part of the book is when Johnny experiences his first vision, of the nurse's sone in a burnig house. This like many other parts of the book is very compelling. King made sure that you would never get bored while reading this book.
I would recommend this book to almost anyone. If you enjoy an interesting and suspenseful story, than this is for you. Also if you are a fan of horror or suspense then this is a "must read book". stephen King's The Dead Zone is a great book that will definately not let you down.
on April 17, 2003
The Dead Zone by Stephen King is a fabulous book. From the very beginning the reader is drawn into the story and is left hanging on to the edge of you seat with every turn of the page.
The book is about a high school teacher, John Smith, who gets in a car accident and stays in a coma for four years. As everyone was giving up on John coming out of his coma, he wakes up. But Johnny does not come back completely normal, he comes back with something extra, which enables him to touch people, objects, anything and recieve images, words, information about the people or the people that held them.
But he soon starts to despise his gift, "This is my gift, this is also my curse," and refuses to use it. People send him things and want him to tell them what he sees. But then brutal murders start to occur and the local sheriff asks him for his help. He tells Johnny that he is his last resort. At first he refuses to help, but soon his own guilt gets the better of him. And so starts a mystery that will leave you in suspense and keep you wondering what will happen next.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in mystery, suspense, or things that deal with the supernatural.
on April 4, 2003
A Review by Kyle
As a young boy Johnny liked to ice skate, he wished he could play hockey with the big kids but he wasn't old enough, even though he was still going to get a taste of what it would be like. Johnny was just learning how to skate backwards when he got laid out by a huge hockey player everyone was afraid he would be dead, but he was alive and he woke up with a slight power to see into the future but it was not fully developed until he got older. An older Johnny now teaching high school was going to the fair with his girlfriend, she got sick so he took her home but he didn't know that he would not see her for the next four and a half years.
This book was a great descriptive book such as this "Between these two was a picture of the almost totally demolished taxi, lying on its side like a dead dog." Mr. King also lets you get to know the characters even before the enter the storyline, he tells the story of a door to door salesman named Greg Stillson and shows him as an evil man as he beats a dog to death. The only thing I didn't like was that it was hard to understand where he was going when he would jump off topic and talk about someone or something different such as when out of nowhere he started talking about how Sarah was dealing with Johnny being in a coma and how she started dating again.
I think that this is a great book and it is a must read for adults but I would not let any children read it because it dose get sexual and there are many bad words.
on February 17, 2003
Stephen King's 1979 novel about Johnny Smith, a man who comes out of a coma with psychic powers is, not surprisingly, much better than the recent TV series it spawned. The book is certainly darker and grittier, but most importantly, if makes sense. Where the TV show invents a nonsensical character who is part physical therapist and part sidekick, as well as a weird three-way relationship among Smith, his former fiancee, and her new husband; the book is far better written and has none of this. People make sense in this novel.
Johnny Smith is a New England schoolteacher, the reluctant recipient of strange visionary powers after he emerges from a car-crash induced coma. He gains a momentary celebrity when he uses these visions to solve crimes and avert disasters. But Smith himself is unhappy, floundering in the question of why he was given such a strange gift/curse. His angst is resolved when he begins to realize that he bears the responsibility to stop a young, charismatic politician who, he sees, will evolve in the coming years into a major force of evil - a new Hitler. Smith faces a set of personal and moral decisions as he grapples with how to deal with this nemesis. "The Dead Zone" delivers on the promise of all of Stephen King's novels: an entertaining supernatural page turner that can be read in a weekend without unduly challenging a reader. Not great literature, but a great pop novel.
on November 9, 2002
I found this to be a haunting and sad story-- a love story. John Smith has met the love of his life, and is probably on the verge of tying the knot with her. His life is interrupted by a terrible auto accident that leaves him in a coma for 8 years. When he comes out of the coma, his girl is married to someone else, and the world has moved on without him. And when he awakes he has a powerful psychic ability to see the future, evidently triggered by the accident, and activated by touch.
John Smith tries to adapt to his new life and his new power. The rest would be telling. However, it is fair to say that the book moves at a pretty good pace, with a decent storyline and good prose. This isn't one of those King novels that gets bogged down with far-out stuff--it is rooted essentially in reality except for Smith's psychic power. Even that is presented in a pretty believable way, not wildly different from the documented ability of psychic Peter Hurkos.
This is my favorite King novel. I found it to be believable, moving, and upsetting. And a ripping good read.