Book Review: The Dead Zone by Stephen King


Stephen King, the man who wrote some of the most memorable scary/thrilling novels which were so successful; they made movies based on them: IT, The Shining, The Green Mile and The Dark Tower (which premier was yesterday!)

Starting this review, I have to say that the name “The Dead Zone” bares a huge load of nostalgia, you see, the TV show which was aired from 2002 to 2007 was (and still) one of my favorite shows ever, however – to my shock – the novel can’t be more different to the show. Please note that this review contains major spoilers.

John Smith is your everyday’s guy, a nice looking English teacher who’s in a relationship with his fellow teacher; the sweet Sarah. The crux of the events starts when we learn that Johnny had a small accident when he was a child, his head was bumped and he blacked out. One night Johnny and Sarah went to a small festival and after some small events, Johnny ends up winning a nice amount of cash due to a lucky streak while playing some sort of a festival roulette. Johnny drove Sarah home and left her his car and went to his place by a cab since she was feeling ill. The 1st major highlight occurs here, the cab which Johnny was riding in got into a huge head-to-head collision with another speedy car and the drivers passed away immediately while Johnny went into a long 4 and a half years coma.

John’s family and Sarah gave up on him waking up, Vera – John’s mom – started to crowd with some religious kooks whom were convinced that God will send them a UFO to take them straight to heaven. Sarah got married to a guy in the politics business and had a kid. Johnny suddenly wakes up from his coma and after some series of events which include him saving a nurse’s home from burning down by notifying her and calling the fire department, he discovers that he possesses a special ability where he gets flashes of things that happened/ are going to happen the moment he touches a person’s hand.

Skipping all the emotional parts where Johnny is devastated due to Sarah slipping away, Vera was convinced that God sent John back with his new ability because of a plan he devised for him, she later on got a heart attack and passed away following to seeing him on TV since the media went insane over the “new born psychic”.

Meanwhile, the writer starts to reveal another character called Greg Stillson who’s a scum looking to find his way to be the president of the US, as the story progresses, we learn that Greg kicked a dog to death, got his kicks from terrorizing teens and so forth.

Johnny -after his recovery- helped solving a murder case, however, a splitting headache starts to get more severe as the story goes. Johnny and Sarah encounters were almost rare since she is a married woman with 2 kids now, at this point, Greg is a huge pillar of the story, we saw him gaining his fan base over things like “free hot dogs to everyone” and “I’m going to get rid of the trash and pollution and send them to outer space” non-sense.

Johnny decided to check this loony out, he went to a one of his rallies, and had the chance to shake his hand only to get a weird vision of “blue filters with yellow stripes”, John fainted after this encounter, but he believed that Greg is an imminent threat which needs to be dealt with.

At this point, John’s headaches are getting more and more intense, in addition, his vision is getting doubled and blurry, Johnny bought a rifle to finish this once and for all, and right before heading to his final destination, he dropped some letters in the mail box. John went to the town hall and was posted in his higher level position and waited for the morning to come since Greg was having a gathering here.

When Greg got on his podium, Johnny was ready, he stood up and aimed toward Greg, the people who were attending went into a massive hysteria as johnny had missed 3 shots, Greg used a small boy who was wearing a blue jacket with yellow stripes as human shield. Greg’s body guards succeeded putting John down with 2 or 3 bullets, meanwhile, the mother was yelling stuff like ” You bastard, I’m going to tell everyone that you used a small boy to protect yourself” and luckily, there was a young man who took some photos of this and got chased by Greg’s thugs to destroy his camera, but they never got to.

At the end we learn from a mix of testimonies and the letters he sent to his father and Sarah earlier that John had a huge tumor on his brain and how Johnny saw that if Greg made it to the presidency, he will start nuke wars and destroy humanity, therefore, he had to kill him for the sake of all of us.

The story ended by Sarah crying and talking to Johnny’s grave stone while laughing on his joke which he said to her many times during the story “You still siniffin’ that wicked cocaine?”. She felt a hand touching her neck, when she turned around she saw a distant figure of Johnny fading away while giving her his signature grin. Was it John? She will never know, she was asking herself this question while driving away from the cemetery.

So, what do you – Spider Bro – think about this novel?

Well, I believe it’s unique, King certainly went out of his usual way to come up with something like this, plus, I really admired the political spotlight; a guy who’s getting more popular by the second despite of his disturbed background and his non-sense, the masses are susceptible by nature, it only takes some few words and free hot dogs! While the guy who’s from the few sane crowd, he saw that this guy is a complete nut job (even without his ability, this is why he went to check him out on his own), got accused of being phony/insane, etc. This is a real indicator of our present lives, he/she who speaks the truth gets attacked, while the deceiving party is the one to be loved. At least Greg lost his popularity after exposing him as the low life he is, on the contrary of what’s happening today.

Finally, I give this novel a solid 4.5 out of 5, I believe the lost 0.5 is due to some of the verbiage which really took me some time to get through.



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