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Book Review: The Dead Zone by Stephen King

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In The Dead Zone John Smith wakes up from a 4 year coma with the ability to see the past and the future of the people he touches.

Some people see this ability as a gift from God. But for John, he sees it as a curse.

It all started 4 years ago when John, a Teacher, took his date Sarah, also a Teacher, to the Fair.

John is also known as Johnny in The Dead Zone and these names will be used interchangeably throughout this review.

All was going well until John tried his luck on The Wheel of Fortune. The first time he wins. Then the second and third time to. Again and again he wins. He just can’t loose, despite his head feeling like somebody is going at it with a jack hammer.

Continued below…

Meanwhile Sarah has become ill and is being violently sick after eating a bad hot dog. Johnny takes Sarah home and then calls a taxi.

Johnny’s taxi journey home is where it all goes wrong. A car driving on the wrong side of the road crashes into the taxi at speed, causing the deaths of the boy driving the car on the wrong side of the road and the taxi driver. John is propelled out of the taxi through the windshield and goes into a coma.

When Johnny wakes up, he discovers that everything has changed. His body is weak, despite being exercised with physiotherapy while he was comatose. His mind has a Dead Zone, a microscopic part of his brain that has been damaged. This Dead Zone causes him not to be able to imagine certain things and is perhaps also causing his new found ability to see people’s past and future by touching them.

John’s father seems to have dramatically aged much more than the 4 years that has passed. His mother who was always a religious woman, has become fervent religionist. Sarah is now married to another man and has a child.

As Johnny works hard to recover and rebuild his life. As he does so, he makes some startlingly accurate predictions including: finding the location of his Doctor’s lost mother, preventing a fire from becoming serious in his Physiotherapists house, telling Sarah where her lost wedding ring is, identifying a serial murderer and predicting a serious fire caused by lightening. Johnny soon makes news with his predictions and rides out the media storms the best he can.

Johnny doesn’t really want any of this. He just wants a normal life and more importantly the normal life the car accident robbed him of. But he knows that this is not possible. Too much has changed.

Johnny does various bits of work and creates a little hobby of shaking politician’s hands to see the future of election results. That is until he shake that hand of Greg Stillson. John sees Stillson becoming President and what a dangerous one he’ll be.

John becomes obsessed with Stillson and starts getting head-splitting headaches. John finds himself debating whether he would kill Hitler if time travel was possible. He decides that he would and that the same action needs to be taken to prevent Stillson from ever becoming President.

Every element of The Dead Zone was excellent and enjoyable. The description pulls the reader into the story from the beginning and until the end. The characters were charming, cunning and crafty. Johnny was particularly appealing and interesting, with the reader feeling for and relating to this character from the start of the book.

The plot was intriguing, fascinating and full of unpredictable, but perfectly pleasant twists and turns. The pacing was perfect at all times and felt like a car with cruise control doing 70MPH on the motorway.

The only tiny criticism of The Dead Zone was John’s name. John Smith. The story makes clear from the outset that John is an average guy, who happens to have something that’s both bad and brilliant happen to him. So using such a common place name to represent that he’s an average guy was not required. It stuck me as either lazy or uninventive on King’s behalf.

The Dead Zone is without any doubt a King classic. The Dead Zone is available to buy on Amazon and at all good book shops.

Review soon,



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