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Book Review: The Dead Zone

The First Time I read The Dead Zone by Stephen King, I was just a kid. I didn’t like it. But I was coming to it on the heels of the novels “It,” The Tommyknockers, and Misery, all by the same author. Those were books that scared me to death, and at that point I expected every single book by Mr. King to be a non-stop scarefest. Zone is more of a thriller. But I read it again a couple of years ago and loved it.

Summary of The Dead Zone

Johnny Smith–how’s that for a generic name?–has a pretty good life. But then he gets into an accident and a five-year coma sucks the fun out of things. Five years later things have moved on. His town. His comely lady-friend. And so on.

the dead zone stephen kingBut Johnny has also awakened with an unwelcome visitor: he is now a psychic. He can see things that he shouldn’t be able to see. As with most books about people with preternatural abilities, it is both a blessing and a curse. He is able to help local law enforcement catch a killer, he is able to provide comfort to several people with unanswered questions in their lives, and is generally able to be a helpful chap.

But he’s not very happy. Any reluctant hero needs a purpose, and Johnny finds his when he meets a maniacal politician and has an unsettling vision of the man, and the world’s future. If you’ve read any dystopian books like Swan Song by Robert McCammon, you’ve seen what happens when the wrong person gets their finger on the button.

Smith’s vision in this case isn’t quite that bad, but it’s bad enough that he decides to put a stop to the man’s candidacy.

As an adult looking for more than scares, I enjoyed The Dead Zone on a lot of different levels. It’s a great story, a great mystery, and it didn’t hurt that Christopher Walken played Johnny in the movie. Recommended for fans of Stephen King, stories about seers, or police procedurals.


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