The Dead Zone
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The Dead Zone

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  101,521 ratings  ·  1,304 reviews
Johnny, the small boy who skated at breakneck speed into an accident that for one horrifying moment plunged him into The Dead Zone.

Johnny Smith, the small-town schoolteacher who spun the wheel of fortune and won a four-and-a-half-year trip into The Dead Zone.

John Smith, who awakened from an interminable coma with an accursed power—the power to see the future and the terr...more
Mass Market Paperback, 402 pages
Published August 1980 by Signet/New American Library (first published January 1st 1979)
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The Stand by Stephen KingIt by Stephen KingThe Shining by Stephen KingMisery by Stephen King'Salem's Lot by Stephen King
Best of Stephen King
13th out of 122 books — 2,096 voters
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Best Horror Novels
38th out of 1,114 books — 3,421 voters

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Community Reviews

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Dan Schwent
Johnny Smith wakes from a coma with the psychic ability to read a person when he touches them. Will he use this ability for good or for selfish reasons? And what's the deal with this Greg Stillson character that's swiftly becoming a heavy hitter in the political realm?

Sometime in early 2013, I resolved to read some of the Stephen King books I missed during my binge around the turn of the century. Along with The Shining and It, the Dead Zone is something I'm surprised I hadn't read years ago.

What comes from knowing things? Nothing. What is the purpose of knowing the future? So you can change it? But wouldn't what you knew about the future and the change you were going to bring to the future, be the way it was supposed to be anyways? Just think about it...

I think in the case of Johnny Smith and The Dead Zone , I would have to say what happened to Johnny and the events surrounding him, happened for a reason.

This is not a horror novel, in my opinion. This is more of a sci-fi novel don...more
Nandakishore Varma
In my own personal opinion, this is the best story Stephen King has ever written. Not the most frightening, not the most thrilling, no: but this novel has true literary merit. And a tragic hero (not a mere "protagonist, mind you) who really qualifies for the title.

John Smith (his name immediately marks him out as the "common man") is blessed and cursed with second sight. It began as a minor ability due to a skating accident in his childhood; but when he wins big time at the roulette wheel in a v...more
Three-fourths into this book, I realized that the slow burn that King tended was turning into something much fiercer; after reading the final paragraph, I was struck with a keen sense of melancholy and loss. In brief, this is a story about a man who is struck with a tragic circumstance, and how he deals with it. A sketch of the social and political situation in America circa the mid-1970's runs, at first, parallel to this account; later, it all intertwines with the kind of neatness that one find...more
Stefan Yates
For some reason, my recollection of reading this book before was very vague. Therefore, I went into the rereading process without knowing what to expect at all. Boy, was I surprised. After finishing it, I think that The Dead Zone is one of King's best novels.

The character development is superb and I think that Johnny Smith is possibly one of King's best developed characters. We also spend considerable time with his family members and the principle villains and these characters are all strongly d...more
THE DEAD ZONE was my very first Stephen King book, and I would like to thank David Cronenberg, Christopher Walken, and one of my high school best friends- Natalie Kowalski- for introducing me to the world of John Smith, and in turn the world of Stephen King.

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After watching and falling for the character John Smith- in the 1983 movie THE DEAD ZONE, I decided to search out the book that it was based on. I had never heard of Stephen King- I had read a lot of mysteries, but had never read a horror nov...more
4.0 to 4.5 stars. This was the first Stephen King book that I ever read and after finishing it I immediately went out and bought every Stephen King book that my local book store had in stock. Loved the characters, the story and the exploration of the moral question asked in the novel, "knowing what you know now, if you could go back in time and kill Hitler, would you do it." Great stuff and classic King.
I'm left little speechless and I don't know from where to begin.

I'll write a review a little bit later, I need some book with HEA right now for therapy.

I decided it was time to read a Stephen King's book. I've read The Colorado Kid by Stephen King , but I can't put it in the same place as The Dead Zone or Pet Cemetery or etc
So, I started it, but I didn't know what to except. While I read the first maybe 20- 30% of the book, I was like this description I was waiting for something very scary to happen. But nothing that scary happened,...more
Eric Althoff
While Stephen King has rightfully garnered a reputation as a horror writer, some of his best fiction revolves around stories of everyday humanity affected by elements of the supernatural. After awakening from a five-year coma, John Smith has come back from the ether with a clairvoyance to see certain futures and hidden pasts of others by touch alone. Opting to use his powers for good, John is called upon for such tasks as helping the police to catch an elusive rapist. But when he shakes hands wi...more
I know almost every person on this planet is familiar with the story, but I want to tell you this: Forget about any movie or TV series you've ever seen and get your hands on a copy of The Dead Zone. It's a book that will warm your heart and then rip it apart. A book that will tell you about finding love and losing it because it was just too good to be true; about the shit life has in store for us and the consequences we have to deal with; about getting a great 'power' and accepting the responsib...more
As people may have gathered by now from my reviews, I never liked Dubya very much. While he was President, I would often think of The Dead Zone and hope someone would try to shoot him.

I didn't want them to kill him or even cause him any physical damage. I just wished that he'd instinctively grab a nearby kid and attempt to use him as a human shield. Stephen King is right: that would have made people take notice.
La zona morta
Non vi è mai capitato di non riuscire a ricordarvi qualcosa? Intendo qualcosa che vi è accaduto o che vi è strettamente familiare. Ad esempio, io alla mia festa di laurea c'ho dato dentro non poco e dopo essermi bevuto l'impossibile e fumato l'impensabile, finii (ovviamente) la serata prono sul water con un amico che mi reggevo la testa ed a cui dicevo in ogni lingua conoscevo quanto gli volessi bene (diciamo che dicevo a tutti che gli volevo bene ed in quel momento era anche vero)....more
Nicholas Armstrong
This feels very much a precursor to 11/22/63. I won't drag into the details because I guess it isn't relevant to the quality of this book, but it is interesting, as if King couldn't let the idea go and crystallized it in 11/22/63.

Anywho, the problem with this book is mostly that it is out of focus. We are taken on a journey that scampers and leaps across time and characters. I never really felt like I had a strong grasp on any place, person, or thing because the novel leaps from one to the next...more
I didn't really know what to expect from this novel. I knew the plot and I had seen the movie with Christopher Walken, but I had postponed reading the novel. A few summers ago I finally decided to give it a try.

The thing that really stood out to me ,and caught me somewhat flatfooted, was the theme of change. Rapid breathtaking change and the fact that it happens whether we like it or not. In this respect I realized this was a very personal aspect that the story was hitting on.

The Dead Zone wa...more
I have to say The Dead Zone is my favorite King novel for a rather non-literary reason. Although I have a number of signed books by him, it is the only book in my collection which is personally inscribed to me from Stephen King. I met Mr. King at a book signing. At that point in his life, he was not yet flooded with fans so there was plenty of time to say a few works to him and ask a few questions... and for him to actually add a personal touch in his signings. Oh, for the old times...

As for the...more
The dead zone has got to be one of the most criminally under-rated King books of all time.It is rather a psychological or a paranormal thriller than a conventional horror book.It deals with Johny Smith who gets precognition power after a fateful car accident.In spite of sounding cliched i must say this book critically examines the concept of "With great power comes great responsibility" way before Spider-man turned it into a pop culture reference.

This is a dark book & also has an interesting...more
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I'm rereading this -- probably for the fifth time or so -- because it's likely my favorite of all of King's novels. The way he combines plot with characterization is nonpareil. This man is one of the very best contemporary novelists we have.
What?!? How is it possible that one person can write so many books that are so good?!? This one had a bit of a slow start - I chipped away at it for a few months, but once I got to the halfway point, I couldn't put it down. When the whole mess with Frank Dodd comes to light, and the reader realizes that Johnny may use his psychic abilities for a higher purpose...that's when it really starts to get good. It's a great thriller, but it also raises some really interesting moral questions, too. And K...more
I was a big fan of The Dead Zone tv show starring Anthony Michael Hall and couldn't help comparing the book to the show as I read. Knowing pretty much what to expect from having watched the show, the book had less of an impact than it would have if I had gone into the reading without any expectations.

The television show made some, mostly minor, changes in the interest of being able to produce the show long term. I personally liked their changes better than the book itself. Walt's role in the boo...more
Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: I am re/reading Stephen King's books in chronological publishing order. This was my next book. I have also gotten into the habit of starting my year off with a Stephen King novel.

I was really looking forward to this one. I have fond memories of really enjoying the book. I have only read it once before which was this exact paperback copy and I would have been 12 at the time. I don't really remember the story from the book, though, as I have flashes of scenes from the movie wit...more
I hadn’t read Stephen King’s work since I was a teenager, but I was in the mood for something creepy for Halloween so I turned to the man who scared the bejesus out of me way back when with Pet Sematary and Misery. The Dead Zone wasn’t as scary and spine-tingling as I was hoping and expecting it to be (I thought the narrator would be talking to dead people or something, from the sound of the title), but it definitely hooked me from the start and kept me on edge waiting to find out what would h...more
I am a frighteningly devout Stephen King fangirl, but sometimes his writing habits just become too tedious and this was one of those times. His fixation on religious fanaticism is particularly boring to me at this point in my consumption of his work, so I had only irritated sighs for the parts of this book that involved the mother. It is interesting that Joe Hill recently listed it as one of the five best books of all time, since I do not think it contains anything remarkable or even very memora...more
Aug 17, 2010 Megan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Megan by: Scott Sr.
Earlier this summer my father-in-law started randomly talking about this book. I don't know what started the conversation, but he talked a little bit about the setup and then he mentioned one plot point, which I'm not going to mention here, because it did two things: it made me have to read this book and it utterly spoiled the ending for me. Naturally, due to the nature of the plot point, and the way the book is written, I didn't realize HEY THE ENDING IS TOTES SPOILED until the very very end.

So I think I've learned that no matter how uninterested I am in the beginning of a King book, I should just push through it because I always end up satisfied.

For me, King's work divides itself into two categories. There are the novels that grab you by the throat( usually indicative of his later work) and the novels that build slowly but no less intensely(his earlier work). Bag of Bones is one of the former, The Dead Zone and 'Salem's Lot are of the second. While the Dead Zone starts off innocen...more
May 22, 2008 Jason added it
The Dead Zone, one of Stephen King's earlier classics, follows one Johnny Smith, a regular guy with an amazing talent, a type of psychic ability that enables him, upon touching people, to know things about them, about their past, present, or even future.

It starts when Johnny's a boy and has an accident while playing on the ice and is blown wide open when he's in a near fatal car accident as an adult. After four years in a coma, Johnny wakes up with his abilities much stronger than they ever wer...more
Very high 3 (on the Stephen King scale - a standard all its own)

Once again, King took his time weaving this plot together but he never disappoints a patient reader. I tore through this one pretty quickly - mostly many late nights spent up in Vermont reading until 1 or 2 in the morning! Totally atmospheric.

The Dead Zone had great character development, plot twists and pacing. Going into it, I thought the book would be scarier - more on the level with Salem's Lot - but I would say this particular...more
It had been so long since I'd read this early King novel that I'd forgotten how terrific it is. The efficiency of the writing (something lacking in much of his later novels) packs a powerful punch. Part genre thriller, part social commentary, King is at the top of his storytelling prowess. What really struck me in this reading is how contemporary the political landscape King paints sounds. I don't know if that's prescient writing or just a sad commentary of how little the political climate in th...more
Matt Garcia
Amazing, incredibly heart-wrenching novel. Johnny Smith is such an excellent, relatable character and you can't help but feel empathy over the awful hand he was dealt in life. This "regular guy" manages to do and experience some rather extraordinary things. I loved this novel and found myself cheering for Johnny Smith the entire time. Flawless character development and political intrigue highlight this superb novel from a master of the craft.
Mary JL
Dec 18, 2009 Mary JL rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Sf or horror
Shelves: mystery-horror
I always put Stephen KIng in the "mystery-horror" shelf, because that is where people look for him. But a lot of his work has a mixture of horror ansd science fiction, and the Dead Zone could just have easily been listed as Sf.

The first book by King Iread, it is a exciting page turner. The idea of seeing the future is well handled, and Johnny Smith is a fascinating character.

If you by some unique circustance, you have never read Stephen King, but you like science fiction, this would be a great s...more
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Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father's family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, M...more
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