The Dead Zone (Audio Book)
Johnny Smith awakens from a five-year coma after his car accident and discovers that he can see people’s futures and pasts when he touches them. Many consider his talent a gift; Johnny feels cursed. His fiancée married another man during his coma and people clamor for him to solve their problems.
When Johnny has a disturbing vision after he shakes the hand of an ambitious and amoral politician, he must decide if he should take drastic action to change the future. With “powerful tension that holds the reader to the story like a pin to a magnet” (The Houston Post), The Dead Zone is a “faultlessly paced…continuously engrossing” (Los Angeles Times) novel of second sight.
Since I can count the number of books I’ve read by Stephen King on just one hand, I decided to pick up one of his earlier works. And, now I’ll need to watch the movie starring Christopher Walken, but I digress.
The premise of this book is a fascinating one: a man wrestles with his power of sight and what he should morally and ethically do with it. How much should he influence the lives of others around him by telling them things they may or may not want to know? Will they even believe him? King does an excellent job with those aspects of the novel.
Although originally released in 1979, the narrative stands the test of time. In fact, I found the political climate and commentary to be eerily relevant to today. I’m sure for some readers this may come off as tedious ranting, but I didn’t mind it. However, for me, the strongest element of the book lies in the relationships King depicts, like between Johnny and his father, for instance. Yet, even more so, it’s Johnny’s bittersweet connection with Sarah still tugs at my heartstrings.
One of the things that didn’t quite work for me: the long tangents that seemed to veer from the core of the story. I found myself struggling to care about some of the extra fluff present in the novel. Also, the head jumping is somewhat disorienting. I had to strain to follow along a few times.
There’s enough here to make this book a worthwhile read. And, King’s turns of phrase are often both vivid and poetic. He’s definitely a word craftsman. It’s also worth noting that if you’re into audiobooks, James Franco does an amazing job making the various characters and scenarios come to life.