The Dead Zone by Stephen King


source: purchased
title: The Dead Zone
author: Stephen King
genre: horror/thriller
published: 1979
pages: 402
first line: By the time he graduated from college, John Smith had forgotten all about the bad fall he took on the ice that January day in 1953.
rated: 3 out of 5 stars

Stephen King’s #1 New York Times bestseller about a reluctant clairvoyant who must weigh his options when he suddenly sees the terrible future awaiting mankind.

“There was only blackness and that universal emptiness… Cold limbo. Johnny Smith stayed there a long, long time.”

When Johnny Smith was six-years-old, head trauma caused by a bad ice-skating accident left him with a nasty bruise on his forehead and, from time to time, those hunches…infrequent but accurate snippets of things to come. But it isn’t until Johnny’s a grown man—now having survived a horrifying auto injury that plunged him into a coma lasting four-and-a-half years—that his special abilities really push to the fore. Johnny Smith comes back from the void with an extraordinary gift that becomes his life’s curse…presenting visions of what was and what will be for the innocent and guilty alike. But when he encounters a ruthlessly ambitious and amoral man who promises a terrifying fate for all humanity, Johnny must find a way to prevent a harrowing predestination from becoming reality.

my thoughts:
I randomly decided to re-read The Dead Zone not too long ago. I just plucked it from my bookshelves one morning before heading off to work after I finished reading a Neil Gaiman book the night before.

The protagonist Johnny Smith is at a carnival with his girlfriend Sarah when he wins big cash on a spin wheel. That same night when he takes a taxi home he is involved in a major car accident that leaves him with a severe head injury and in a coma for more than four years.

The Dead Zone was a sad story from the start. It is one of those all around unfair stories. The way of that fateful night for Johnny is that he won big money on the wheel at the carnival, so good luck has to be offset with bad luck. The bad luck being the car wreck and coma. Sarah and Johnny are in love and are about to start their lives together but fate intercedes and he falls into this coma for several years. As usual, King draws you in, setting the story up, taking you inside these characters daily lives with the little details that say alot.

She suddenly realized she was sitting in an apartment by herself late at night, eating an apple and watching a movie on TV that she cared nothing about, and doing it all because it was easier than thinking, thinking was so boring really, when all you had to think about was yourself and your lost love.
p.21, The Dead Zone by Stephen King

When Johnny finally awakens from the coma his psychic visions are extremely vivid. He needs painful surgeries to help him walk again and it is several months before he can leave the hospital. When word gets out to the local media that he has a sixth sense that works by touch he becomes somewhat of a local celebrity.

Johnny’s pain both physical and emotional, is palpable. He is living in a world that has moved on without him. On top of that, his psychic abilities have people viewing him as either a freak or a fraud.

He wasn’t over the hurt of the past. For him, time had been crudely folded, stapled, and mutilated.
p.186, The Dead Zone

As the story unfolds, Johnny’s premonitions set him on a course that helps the local police find a serial killer and it helps him interfere with a maniac who is running for President. In this way, the coma awakened his psychic abilities and it helped him save others, although it ruined his own personal life. I felt this story was about yin and yang, the balance of things.

It was scary the way Johnny had no control over his visions, they took over and frightened not only other people watching, but himself as well.

It might have only been in his head that he screamed. But he had wanted to scream; to scream out all the horror and pity and agony in his heart.
p. 255, The Dead Zone

While I enjoyed the first half of the story where Johnny aids the police in finding a killer and where his visions help save lives, the last part of the book dragged. It turned more to politics and how Johnny wanted to stop a man from eventually becoming the President of the U.S. I became bored with this turn of events. Maybe it is because our current political situation is such a stressful one, so this hit close to home. The candidate in the story-line is a fraud, he gets the crowds riled up with impossible promises and has no political background.

Also, I thought I’d mention it, in the first part of the story there is a disturbing scene where a dog dies. I skimmed it when I realized what I was reading, but I thought I’d mention it anyway for anyone who plans on reading this one. It takes place early on in the story and it is the only scene like it in the book. I hate reading anything with animals being abused.

Overall, The Dead Zone is a good one if you enjoy suspense and thrillers with a good dose of melancholy thrown in. Lost love, psychic visions, politics and a serial killer are all in the mix.

I watched the film version years ago and will be looking to watch it again if I can find it on NetFlix. I used to watch the tv series and that was good as well.

about the author:
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes The Bill Hodges Trilogy, Revival, and Doctor Sleep. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of The Dead Zone.

13 thoughts on “The Dead Zone by Stephen King

  1. It has been awhile since I read this myself. I do remember that it was a sad story. Lost chances, due to unfairness, can be particularly poignant. I also find the dog part disturbing.

    I also remember really liking the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A big fan of the author when I was a teenager but I don’t think I ever read this one.The last one of his books that I read as an adult was Needful Things which was dark enough for me without being overly scary.

    Liked by 1 person

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