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The Dead Zone

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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 terrible fate awaiting mankind in The Dead Zone.


402 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published August 30, 1979

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About the author

Stephen King

2,077 books815k followers
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, Maine, for good. Her parents, Guy and Nellie Pillsbury, had become incapacitated with old age, and Ruth King was persuaded by her sisters to take over the physical care of them. Other family members provided a small house in Durham and financial support. After Stephen's grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the mentally challenged.

Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums.

He met Tabitha Spruce in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University, where they both worked as students; they married in January of 1971. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men's magazines.

Stephen made his first professional short story sale ("The Glass Floor") to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men's magazines. Many were gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.

In the fall of 1971, Stephen began teaching English at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,869 reviews
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,739 followers
January 8, 2020
This was my second time in The Dead Zone. I remember the first time fondly as this is only one of two Stephen King books I read in one sitting (the other being Pet Sematary). The first time was in the late 1990s at an all-night coffee shop in Cincinnati. I read until the sun came up fueled on caffeine and the enthralling words of the Master of Horror himself.

I suppose knowing that I read it in one sitting says a lot about what I thought about it – I LOVED IT! It blew me away. It was creepy, heart-wrenching, introspective, speculative, terrifying, thought-provoking – and on and on and on. I just knew I had to read it again now to see if I still felt the same. And, I do! I definitely do!

I think many people recommend Carrie or The Shining to people just starting King. I rarely hear The Dead Zone. But, to me, this would be a fantastic place to start. It is not too long to be daunting (like It or The Stand). It does not involve the potential commitment of a series (like The Dark Tower or Hodges Trilogy). I think the story is fairly straight forward and would be easily accessible to many. Also, hoping that I am not saying too much, I think this story is particularly terrifying in the world’s current political climate.

This time around I did the audio. I was skeptical at first because it was James Franco and he usually seems kind of silly to me (most of my memories of him are Seth Rogan stoner movies). I am guessing he may have been invited to do this audio version because of his involvement in King’s 11/22/63 mini-series – which I still need to watch (Update 1/8/2020 - Just noticed I said I still need to watch this, but I did in 2019. It was great!)! I think he did a great job narrating this book and I will gladly do other books in the future narrated by him.

You ask me what King book I recommend – this is it! You haven’t read it yet? Why not!?
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
769 reviews3,498 followers
September 27, 2020
A heavily shattered psi protagonists deals with the demons his unwanted gift shows him by playing the more or less voluntary hunter .

Mental powers are a commonly used trope in King´s works and I couldn´t name another author who uses it with such ingenuity, because he unleashes the characters to observe how they freely develop their angelic or hellish powers and become the mentalist, mind penetrating elve, psych necromancer with daddy issues, or whatever. One could say it are descriptions of what his subconsciousness imagines certain magical powers might be made out of and how they could manifest in normal humans, ghosts, or any mythological figure.

King found himself in a similar position after he was nearly killed in a car accident, so the scenes he´s describing the slow convalescence and therapy of the protagonist became a kind of self fulfilling prophecy.

A fun fact: King said that it was highly irritating that many people were more upset by than by many other scenes in his books including violence against women and children and ironically said that this is pretty telling about human nature. „Stop hitting that dog, spank your kid instead! Thanks!“ The same happened with the completely consensual sex scene in his novel It, go read it immediately, that was considered worse than all blood, gore, rape, and torture combined. Humans are strange, man.

Having psychic power is a great super trope, be it with touch, senses, taking certain drugs to get in the right mood and mindset, feed on happiness, fear, or boredom, hey, that would be funny, controlling and brainwashing other people, etc. Easily combinable with time travel, alternative realities, fantasy, sci-fi in general, and fine to implement in any half or full breed real life events, not to forget innuendos and connotations.

It also shows the immense flaws of the anachronistic system of identification with one glorified political leader, loving and adoring a puppet instead of dissecting and understanding the system behind it. But because the puppet can easily turn Child´s Play Chucky, slaughter the puppet masters, cut its strings, and go full extermination world domination war, it should possibly be considered to modify the system to a more direct democracy model if possible, but that´s a mess all of its own too, although nothing compared to the current facepalmity. Yea, pessimistic outlook on everything, get used to it in such drivels.

This is horrible, no matter when it happens in life. If one is young, the described could happen, but when kids at any age are involved, this could mean having the memory of a toddler and a kindergartener and being confronted with 2 unknown people who are both adults now and maybe even have own kids. The ultimate irony of very bad faith would be to wake up so old that one wouldn´t even survive long without the severy physical consequences of the coma, just to realize that one has missed some of the greatest periods of a human´s life.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
December 15, 2019
“We all do what we can, and it has to be good enough, and if it isn't good enough, it has to do.”

 photo 1239f876-1169-4e93-ba31-3efb5dcb1290_zps6iebs0gr.jpg
Who else but Christopher Walken could play Johnny Smith in the highly praised David Cronenberg film?

Johnny Smith is a rookie teacher with $8 in his pocket, just enough money to take his best girl Sarah, also a new teacher, to the local county fair. Sarah is coming off a couple of recent relationships that were exciting with aggressive, unpredictable men. Johnny is a step in a new direction, maybe a more responsible direction not driven as much by physical attraction as by mental stimulation.

She has no idea who Johnny is, but that can’t be helped because Johnny doesn’t really know who he is either.

We get our first inkling that something is different about Johnny as they are leaving the fair. The Wheel of Fortune guy running a crude version of the roulette wheel tempts Johnny over to try his luck with his last few remaining dollars. Johnny starts by betting on black or red and wins. As his confidence grows, he starts picking exact numbers and keeps winning. A crowd is drawn to this run of luck.

But is it luck?

He turns his meager money into three months pay.

Sarah becomes sick from a bad hot dog. Johnny quits the game to take her home. Since they came in her car, he takes a taxi back to his apartment.

There is an accident, and Johnny goes through the windshield.

He doesn’t wake up for four and half years.

His mother, never a stable person before, becomes more frantically religious. She throws herself at every new religious concept, even going so far at one point to joining a commune who are waiting for alien space ships to come pick them up to take them to God. With each new religious venture she brings the Smith’s closer to bankruptcy. Religious zealotry is always so scary to me. They believe it, whatever it is, so fervently that any rational thought is wrestled to the ground and pinned by unquestioning faith.

When Johnny comes out of his coma, he has the ability/curse of being able to touch someone or something owned by that person (psychometry) and see pieces of their future. Some key elements always seem to be missing, and those murky parts Johnny calls The Dead Zone.

An ability like this? Well...it scares people.

”The nurses were lined up against the glass of the nurses’ station, staring at him. Suddenly they reminded him of crows on a telephone line, crows staring down at something bright and shiny, something to be pecked at and pulled apart.”

That does seem to be our nature to fear what we don’t understand, quickly followed by the need to destroy what we fear. Anyone different, whether they have a unconventional sexual orientation or a disfigurement or just see the world differently, will feel the constant pressure to conform or...disappear. It is only logical of course that if Johnny knows about a fire before it happens that he must have been involved in setting that fire. The possibility of clairvoyance is too unique, too extraordinary for others to comprehend.

Johnny is ridiculed, exposed as a charlatan. He is fine with that. It might mean he has a chance to find a normal life.

He is doing well until a small town Sheriff can’t catch the Raincoat Serial Killer.

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A handshake can be so revealing. And yes that is Martin Sheen playing Greg Stillson.

As Johnny is finding himself back in the spotlight, there is another man, a Bible salesman by the name of Greg Stillson, who is starting to have big thoughts, dreams of more power than any lunatic should ever have.

Stephen King is setting up a collision course between the two men, both unusual, both psychotic, but on opposite sides of the same scale.

When Johnny shakes Stillson’s hand, he sees a future that can not be allowed to happen.

If you could build a time machine and go back to 1932 and kill Adolf Hitler, would you do it? It seems logical that you would save millions of lives, which I can’t even calculate the number of descendants of those saved lives. The implications of lives that never existed in our timeline suddenly being thrust into our era are staggering. The reshuffling of the DNA deck is mind boggling. On a micro level it could change your own personal history significantly. Your grandfather might marry someone different or your mother might meet someone before your father that didn’t exist before. You could wink out of existence before you can even fire up the time machine to return to 2015. Knowing the historical results of Hitler being alive, even though there is always the risk that someway, somehow by altering history you might make our present worse, I would still have to vote that I would gladly assassinate Hitler. On top of being a monster, Adolf was also monstrously annoying.

I might even take a short detour and take out Joseph Stalin as well. I’m already rolling the dice, so why not cast them out there one more time? I’d chalk up another couple of million lives saved.

Alter another gazillion time lines of history.

Good lord, the enormity of it and the logic and the illogicalness of it all start to circle back around until it becomes very easy to talk oneself out of such a risky decision.

Nobody wants to destroy the world while trying to save it.

Johnny goes through the same thought processes. Logically, he should find a way to stop Stillson, but there is the nagging worry that he could just make things worse.

This is not a horror book. It is a psychological thriller written by a writer near the top of his game. While working in the book business, I have always puzzled over why Stephen King was read by so many people. Of course, then I didn’t read him. I didn’t need to read him because there were already plenty of people queuing up to buy and read his next book. My job, of course, was to read people like Cormac McCarthy or Alan Furst, or writers like John Williams and try to bring them to a wider audience. I have tried a couple of newer King offerings, but have found them to be bloated, overwritten, and ponderous. I read The Shining, fairly recently, and realized that the King’s gold is in the dusty trunks of his early writings.

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The book spawned a movie, which spawned a popular TV show starring Anthony Michael Hall.

King even made a playful reference to his book Carrie in this novel which made me laugh-out-loud. It was a bit of tongue in cheek referring to his own celebrity.

This book also fits very nicely into my 1970s nostalgic tour of horror books even though technically I can’t call this horror. Here are the other books that I've read on this quest.

The Exorcist Review
The Shining Review
Jaws Review
The Omen Review
Harvest Home Review

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,122 followers
June 6, 2020
WOW! No horror or gore here, just bits of well done paranormal and one hell of an excellent story!

Meet John Smith, he is a good guy.......you'll like him. He has a great sense of humor, loves his parents (including his lunatic mother) and Sarah. Even after life deals him a devastating blow with recurring consequences and difficult challenges, Johnny still perseveres.

Visit a carnival and spin the wheel of fortune, see inside the mind of a sick serial killer, and watch a dangerously radical politician hopeful in action with his deadly threats and evil intentions.

Oh, and don't despair, The Wheel of Fortune, The Laughing Tiger, and Notes from The Dead Zone are all stories related to Johnny, just different phases of his life, as he experiences The Dead Zone.

For those leery of KING reads, don't be......for those opposed to animal cruelty (like me), there is a quick incident, but just wait till you see what happens to the evildoer and find out his identity, AND......for those who like song lyrics and current events of the time interspersed with their stories, you'll find that here too!

THE DEAD ZONE......a 2016 super favorite!

Profile Image for Baba.
3,530 reviews788 followers
November 7, 2021
2016 read: Originally written in 1979, yet still potent and topical! Head trauma leads to some unlikely talents for Johnny Smith; which in turn forces him to have to make some critical decisions to save lives. The special thing about this book, is that you can't really determine where the plot is going at any given time, which in turn, makes it that more readable and compelling. A Castle Rock jam, with a definite old skool King feel to it. :) 8 out of 12.
Profile Image for Nayra.Hassan.
1,260 reviews5,208 followers
November 9, 2022
اعمل الخير و القيه في البحر..نعم!ا
جون مدرس علوم يحب مهنته..يعتني بطلبته..يعشق خطيبته..عالمه ينهار ذات ليلة بعد حادث مروع..يدخله في غيبوبة لخمس سنوات يصحو منها ليجد انه صاحب قدرات تخيفه قبل غيره
.تنبؤ..تخاطب..قراءة ماضي..سايكومتري ..و اجمل ما في القصة انها حدثت بالفعل و لم يتعب كينج كثيرا في تأليف احداث مثيرة

ا"لماذا انا"سؤال إنساني يتبادر إلى ذهن البشر ..كلما اصابتهم مصيبة..و هل هناك مصيبة اكبر ..من الاصطدام بالشر في أعتى صوره؟..
كلما مسست بشر ستجد مصاءبهم تهبط على عقلك..و بالطبع الرواية مأخوذة بتصرف عن قصة حقيقية

الأنانية..كلمة لابد إن تمحوها من حياتك..ما ان تبتلى بتلك القدرة
التي تمكنك من معرفة ماضي الجماد و البشر ..ما ان تمسهم يديك

ا"ان تعرف اكثر من اللازم..فلابد من دفع الثمن"..حتى لو خسرت كل شئ
تدور الأحداث عبر 10سنوات ..مليئة بتفاصيل طبية..وأخرى سياسية عن الولايات المتحدة في السبعينات. .بها الكثير و الكثير من الشخصيات الثانوية
ولكن يظل جون سميث المدرس البسيط مثالا للرجل العادي عندما تلقى عليه مسئولية غير عادية ..و قد أقتبس كينج شخصيته من الواقع لرجل كانت الشرطة تستعين به بسبب قدراته سالفة الذكر

..لغة كينج كانت اكثر سلاسة وشاعرية..لم اتعاطف كثيرا مع علاقة جوني وسارة
ولكني تعاطفت مع مبدأ جوني و مثاليته و تضحياته..حتى صار بطل ذو معدن أصيل

"We all do what we can and it has to be good enough..nothing is ever lost.."johnny choose good for others ..and finally knew that everything thing happens for a reason ..
A novel about faith. .goodness. .and sacrificing. .Just brilliant
Profile Image for Matt.
908 reviews28.1k followers
July 31, 2021
“We all do what we can, and it has to be good enough, and if it isn’t good enough, it has to do…”
- Stephen King, The Dead Zone

Stephen King’s The Dead Zone would have made a perfectly snappy short story or novella: A man gets into a car accident, slips into a coma, wakes up five years later, and can foresee a person’s future by touching them. He runs into an ascendant politician, realizes the man is a mortal danger to the nation, and sets out to stop him. The climax sets you up to expect one thing, then delivers another.

Boom. The End.

Like I said, this would have made a fine short story, or even an episode of The Twilight Zone. The concept takes a very common trope – the apparent blessing that is actually a curse – and overlays that onto a very clean, very effectual story arc. Indeed, in his adaptation, Cronenberg boiled the plot down to its bones, yet his film – a sleek hour-and-forty-three minutes – doesn’t miss a single story beat.

But this is Stephen King we’re talking about.

While a solid short-story writer in his own right, King is best known for his ability to write massively entertaining doorstoppers of prodigious length. Coming in at 426-hardcover pages, The Dead Zone does not have anywhere near the mass of The Stand, It, or Under the Dome, but it is expansive enough to provide an epic character study of an ordinary man named Johnny Smith, who flies through a windshield, falls into a half-decade slumber, and awakes with the terrible gift of prophecy.

By the end, my only wish is that it was longer.

In many ways, this does not feel like a typical Stephen King novel (and I feel I am slowly reading enough of his vast back-catalogue to venture these observations). For one, it is a psychological thriller, with nary a horror element in sight. For another, it has a certain seriousness of purpose. Many of King’s literary tics – the careful curating of pop cultural trivia; the garrulous characters who answer yes/no questions with lengthy monologues; the fetishization of rock-and-roll – are missing. Instead, he plants his story (published in 1979) firmly in the midst of Nixon’s America, riffing on the governmental mistrust and paranoid politics that defined the era. The shadow of Vietnam and the specter of Watergate have cast their pall over others of King’s books. Here, it takes up a podium on center stage, as King delivers a rather pointed critique along with the usual twists and turns.

It also features a brief cameo by Jimmy Carter!

I have found King to be at his peak when his focus is tightest. My favorites – Pet Sematary, Christine, The Shining – have a limited number of characters, powerful themes, and the emotional wallop you get only when an author knows exactly what he is attempting to convey. The Dead Zone falls into this category, to a point.

Johnny Smith is the star of this show, and though King allows his third-person viewpoint to rove at will, most of the novel is devoted to his experiences. While Johnny is prone to bouts of self-pity (which is probably an accurate depiction, but is a personality attribute that doesn’t exactly leap off the page), he is genuinely compelling, especially as the years go by, and the aftershocks of his car accident take their toll. Despite the lackluster name, Smith is really well drawn. He often acts in an irritating way, or says irritating things, but he always acts and speaks in a way that is in keeping with his fundamental nature.

(As an aside: The novel proper begins in 1970 and ends in 1978. King does a marvelous job of efficiently evoking the passage of this time, especially the years when Johnny is in a coma).

The supporting cast, however, is a bit of a mixed-bag in terms of quality and memorability. Roger Chatsworth, for instance, a wealthy man who hires Johnny as a tutor, is complex and multifaceted. There were times when I expected him to act in rote, stereotypical ways, and he didn’t, which is always a nice surprise. The relationship between Johnny and Dr. Sam Weizak is also effective, conjuring a real sense of mutual affection.

Others, though, are underwritten or bluntly cliched. Johnny’s onetime girlfriend Sarah is nothing more than “the one who got away,” and their brief romance is too slender a reed to support the weighty emotions King heaps upon it. Johnny’s mother is a religious zealot who we are asked – more like demanded – to despise. It would have been far more interesting if King had allowed that she was right about certain things. An entire subplot – featuring a Castle Rock sheriff and a serial killer – feels rushed and half-baked.

Then there is conundrum of Gregory Ammas Stillson, the big-bad of The Dead Zone. If we were to place him on the moral spectrum, he would be all in black. There is not a hint of gray, not even the suggestion of shading. When we first meet him, he stomps a dog to death.

That is Greg Stillson in a nutshell.

Thus, in a certain sense, Johnny’s antagonist is one step away from cartoon villainy. And frankly, cartoon villains are boring.

On the other hand, King’s portrait of an insurgent political candidate, a maverick gone rogue, a man-of-the-people populist who wears a hardhat, gives out hotdogs, and is able to whip up his constituencies’ base emotions, is rather captivating.

Other than a rather weak bench, my main criticism of The Dead Zone is that it was too short. Sure, up top, I said this was short-story material. But King convinced me there was a lot more to explore with this idea. Unfortunately, partway through, he seems to have abandoned the notion, and settled for something less ambitious. The Castle Rock serial killer subplot, for instance, either deserved more space, or should have been excised completely. The other characters in Johnny’s orbit could have used an extra dimension or two. Towards the end, it really felt like King was finding ways to cut corners, as a lot of the story’s heavy lifting is done with cheap epistolary techniques, such as quoting letters, newspaper articles, and legal testimony. This left me with a lot of questions, questions that should have been confronted directly, especially with regards to Johnny’s late-game decision-making.

These shortcomings probably keep The Dead Zone out of my personal pantheon of undisputed King masterpieces. Nevertheless, when the harshest condemnation that comes to mind is my desire for more pages, that is rather telling indeed.
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,744 followers
September 29, 2017
Johnny Smith is one bad-luck bastard.

He starts off well enough as a nice guy with a talent for teaching and is in the early stages of what looks to be a very promising relationship with Sarah. However, a car accident leaves Johnny in a coma which nobody thinks he’ll recover from. Miraculously, he wakes up 4 years later, but he finds that Sarah has married someone else, his mother has turned into a religious lunatic, he’s got a long and painful rehab to endure, and he faces a mountain of debt from his hospital bills. Oh, and he now has psychic ability to learn details about a person by touching them or personal objects as well as sometimes seeing their futures. This might seem like a gift, but as Johnny quickly learns it’s really a curse that eventually puts him on a collision course with a dangerous politician named Greg Stillson.

I’ve always thought this was one of King’s better books but hadn’t read it for years. A new audio version with James Franco narrating and doing a pretty good job of it got me motivated, and I’m pleased to find that it mostly lives up to my memory of it.

The elephant in the room on this one is that even though it was published in 1979 the Stillson plot is about a populist demagogue who manages to rise in politics despite being a crazy and corrupt piece of shit just because he has talent for making rubes think that he’s a maverick who tells it like it is even as they willfully ignore the obvious warning signs. So it’d be easy to say that King is a prophet these days. Yeah, he hit the mark with that one, but on the other hand there’s plenty of writers who have done stories about shady politicians.

What I found more interesting here is what King did with Johnny’s mother, Vera. She starts out as someone with strong fundamental religious beliefs, but Johnny’s accident sends her over the high side and into the realm where she starts believing tabloid stories about Jesus living underground at the South Pole. She’s completely immune to facts and logic, and she’d rather rely on prayer than medication to handle her high blood pressure.

It’s fascinating to read a character like this in the ‘70s setting where tabloids and poorly printed tracts are how Vera gets her crackpot theories, and how even then she uses them to create her own view of the world because reality doesn’t suit her. Fast forward to the 21st century where some people pick their news web sites based on how it conforms to what they want to believe as they spread rumors on Facebook about child sex rings in the basement of pizza restaurants that don’t even have a basement, and you realize that King had tapped into something that was on the rise even then.

Leaving aside the eerie similarities to America today, what sets this apart from his other novels is the way that King focused on John Smith and made his story a genuine tragedy. Johnny just wanting to try and resume some kind of normal life, but unable to stop himself from using his power to help people and put himself in a media spotlight is incredibly compelling.

Uncle Stevie takes his sweet time with this so that it comes across as more a slow burn, and it’s not really a horror novel although it can be creepy at times. You can see where the bigger plot involving Johnny and Stillson is headed for a good long while although King still makes the journey there worth the trip, and Johnny is one of his characters who haunts me the most.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56k followers
May 5, 2022
The Dead Zone, Stephen King

The Dead Zone is a horror/supernatural thriller novel by Stephen King published in 1979. It concerns Johnny Smith, who is injured in an accident and remains in a coma for nearly five years. Upon emergence, he exhibits clairvoyance and precognition with limitations, apparently because of a "dead zone," an area of his brain that suffered permanent damage as the result of his accident.

The prologue introduces the two main characters. In 1953, a young boy named John Smith is knocked unconscious while ice-skating, When recovering, he mumbles a strange message ("Don't jump it no more") to an adult on the scene.

The knot on Johnny's head fades after a few days, and he thinks no more of it. A few months later, the adult is seriously injured while he tries to jump start a car. Two years later, during an unconnected incident in Iowa, a young door to door Bible salesman, Greg Stillson, who suffers emotional issues and dreaming of greatness, vindictively kicks an aggressive dog to death.

By 1970, Johnny is now a high school teacher in eastern Maine. After visiting a county fair with his girlfriend, Sarah, and eerily winning repeatedly at the wheel of fortune, Johnny is involved in a car accident on his way home which lands him in a coma for four and a half years. Upon waking, Johnny finds that he has suffered neural injury, but when he touches people and objects, he is able to tell them things that they did not know.

For example, he knows that a nurse's son would have successful surgery; states that his doctor's mother, long believed dead, is living in Carmel, California; warns his physical therapist that her house is about to burn down; tells Sarah that her lost wedding ring is in her suitcase pocket; and later recounts the story behind a St. Christopher medallion that is owned by a skeptical reporter. ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سی و یکم ماه اکتبر سال2015میلادی

عنوان: منطقه‌ ی مرده؛ نویسنده استیفن (استیون) کینگ ؛ مترجم: سما قرایی؛ تهران نشر قطره‏‫، سال1392؛ در570ص؛ شابک9786001195174؛ موضوع: داستانهای ترسناک از نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده20م‬‬

کتاب «منطقه مرده» در ژانر وحشت، به قلم «استیون کینگ»، که نخستین بار در سال1979میلادی منتشر شده‌ است؛ «جان اسمیت»، یکی از شخصیت‌های این داستان، در تصادفی مجروح می‌شود، و حدود پنج سال در کما به سر می‌برد؛ وقتی هوشیاریش را به‌ دست می‌آورد، قادر به درک و مشاهده ی رازهایی ترسناک است، و این توانایی، لحظات وهم‌آور داستان را رقم می‌زند

نقل نمونه متن: (پیش درآمد: یک: زمانی که «جان اسمیت» از کالج فارغ التحصیل شد، دیگر خیلی وقت بود که خاطره ی روی یخ افتادنِ ژانویه ی سال1953میلادی را فراموش کرده بود؛ حتی چند سال پیش از آن، یعنی وقتی که دبیرستان را تمام کرده بود، به سختی یادش میآمد که در آن اتفاق چه بلایی سرش آمده است؛ پدر و مادرش هم که اصلاً از جریان خبر نداشتند؛ روی یخ صاف برکه ی «ران اراوند» در «دورهام» اسکیت بازی میکردند؛ پسرهای بزرگتر با تکه چوبهای قدیمی، و دو سبد سیب زمینی که جای دروازه گذاشته بودند، هاکی بازی میکردند؛ کوچکترها هم مثل همیشه برای خودشان بازی میکردند، مچ پاهای لاغرشان به شکل خنده داری به داخل و خارج خم میشد، و در سرمای بیست و یک درجه زیر صفر نفسشان با بخار بیرون میآمد؛ یک گوشه ی یخ برکه، لاستیکی آتش زده و پدرها و مادرها دورش نشسته بودند، و بچه هایشان را تماشا میکردند؛ هنوز خیلی مانده بود که اتومبیلهای مخصوص حرکت روی برف ساخته شوند، و سرگرمی زمستانی به معنی تکانی به خود دادن بود، نه تکانی به اتومبیل خود دادن؛ «جانی» اسکیتهایش را روی شانه انداخته، و از خانه اش که دقیقاً بالای جاده ی «پونال» بود، پایین میآمد؛ با اینکه فقط شش سال داشت، اسکیت باز خوبی بود؛ نه آنقدر خوب که بتواند برود با بزرگترها هاکی بازی کند، اما میتوانست دور بیشتر کلاس اولیهای دیگر بچرخد، که مجبور بودند دستهایشان را برای حفظ تعادل از دو طرف باز کنند، یا در نهایت از پشت پخش زمین شوند؛ «جان» داشت در منتها الیه خط برکه، اسکیت بازی میکرد، و سعی داشت بتواند مثل «تیمی بندیکس» عقب عقب هم اسکیت بازی کند، از دور صدای خفه ی هیاهو، و داد و بیداد بازیکنان هاکی، و همهمه ی پدرها و مادرها، و تلق و تلوق کامیون حمل نیشکر، میآمد، که در راه خود به سوی «یو.اس جیپسوم» در «لیسبون فالز» از روی پل میگذشت؛ خوشحال بود که در چنین روز زمستانی و سردی زندگی میکند؛ هیچ مشکلی نداشت، ذهنش آشفته نبود، هیچ چیز نمیخواست...؛ جز اینکه بتواند مثل «تیمی بندیکس»، عقب عقب اسکیت بازی کند

از کنار آتش گذشت و دید که دو سه تا از بزرگترها، با هم بطری نوشیدنی رد و بدل میکنند؛ با صدای بلند، به «چاک اسپیر» که بلوزی گشاد، و شلوار پشمی سبزی، پوشیده بود، گفت: به منم بدین! «چاک» نیشش باز شد، و گفت: بزن به چاک بچه؛ مامانت داره صدات میکنه؛ «جانی اسمیت» شش ساله هم لبخند زنان گذشت؛ در جاده ی کنار زمین اسکیت بازی «تیمی بندیکس» را دید، که از شیب پایین میآمد، و پدرش هم پشتش بود؛ فریاد زد: «تیمی»، ببین چیکار میکنم! برگشت و به شکل ناشیانه ای با اسکیت عقب عقب رفت، حواسش نبود که دارد به جایی که بچه ها هاکی بازی میکنند، نزدیک میشود

یک نفر فریاد زد: آهای، بچه جون! برو اون ور!؛ «جانی» نشنید؛ مشغول عقبکی رفتنش بود! تازه توانسته بود ضرباهنگ درستی به پاهایش بدهد ـ مثل تاب دادن پاها بود...؛ هیجان زده پایین را نگاه کرد، تا ببیند پاهایش چطور تاب میخورند؛ توپ هاکی بچه های بزرگتر به لبه ها خورد، و بدون اینکه دیده شود از کنار او گذشت؛ یکی از بچه های بزرگتر، که اسکیت باز خوبی هم نبود، توپ را دنبال کرد، و با چوبش کورکورانه ضربه ای ناگهانی پراند؛ «چاک اسپیر» آن صحنه را دید؛ بلند شد و فریاد زد: «جانی»! مواظب باش!؛ «جان» سرش را بلند کرد، و در همان لحظه اسکیت باز دست و پاچلفتی ای با سرعت تمام به طرفش آمد، و هیکل هشتاد کیلوییش را به او کوباند؛ «جانی» از جا کنده شد، و با دستان باز به هوا پرتاب شد؛ لحظه ای بعد سرش به یخ اصابت کرد، و از هوش رفت؛ از هوش رفت، از هوش...، رفت و همه جا یخ سیاه شد، سیاه؛

به او گفتند که از هوش رفته بود؛ تنها چیزی که از آن مطمئن بود، آن فکر عجیبی بود که مدام در مغزش تکرار شده بود، و بعد ناگهان چشم باز کرده و با دایره ای از سرها ـ سر بازیکنان هاکی، بزرگترهای نگران، و بچه های کوچولوی کنجکاو روبرو شده بود؛ «تیمی بندیکس» پوزخند میزد؛ «چاک اسپیر» نگهش داشته بود؛ همه چیز سیاه شد، سیاه؛ «چاک» پرسید: چی شد؟ «جانی»...، حالت خوبه؟ بدجور سرت خورد زم��ن؛ «جانی» به آرامی گفت: سیاه، یخ سیاه شد؛ «چاک»، باتری به باتری نکن؛ «چاک» با نگاهی ترسان اطراف را نگاه کرد و دوباره به «جانی» خیره شد؛ دستش را روی پیشانی باد کرده ی پسرک گذاشت؛ بازیکن دست و پا چلفتی هاکی گفت: ببخشید، اصلاً ندیدمش؛ بچه های کوچیک نباید نزدیک قسمت بازی بیان؛ قانون مون همینه؛ و اطراف را نگاه کرد، تا شاید کسی از او طرفداری کند؛ «چاک» گفت: «جانی؟»؛ نگاهی که در چشمان «جانی» بود، به نظرش خوشایند نمیآمد؛ نگاهی تاریک، خیره به نقاط دور و سرد بود؛ خوبی؟ «جانی»، بدون اینکه بداند چه میگوید و تنها در فکر یخ، یخ سیاه، گفت: زیاد باتری به باتری نکن؛ انفجار؛ اسید؛ «چاک» به «بیل گندرون» گفت: بهتره ببریمش دکتر؛ خودش هم نمیفهمه چی داره میگه؛ «بیل» توصیه کرد: بذار یه چند دقیقه ای بگذره؛ چند دقیقه صبر کردند و ذهن «جانی» روشنتر شد؛ زیر لب گفت: حالم خوبه؛ بذار بلند شم؛ «تیمی بندیکس» هنوز داشت پوزخند میزد؛ «جانی» با خودش فکر کرد: پسره ی لعنتی؛ حالا نشونش میدم؛ بذار آخر هفته بشه؛ چند بار دورش اسکیت میزنم...؛ هم عقبکی هم رو به جلو؛ «چاک» گفت: بیا یه کم بشین کنار آتیش؛ رنگت حسابی پریده؛ گذاشت کمکش کنند تا نزدیک آتش بیاید؛ بوی لاستیک سوخته تند و زننده بود، و دلش را به هم زد؛ سردرد داشت؛ ورم بالای چشمش را کنجکاوانه لمس کرد؛ به نظرش میآمد که چند صد متر بالا آمده؛ «بیل» پرسید: یادت میاد کی هستی و اوضاع چه جوریه؟ - آره، آره، حالم خوبه؛ - بابا و مامانت کیه؟ «هرب» و «ورا هرب» و «ورا اسمیت»؛ «بیل» و «چاک» به هم نگاه کردند و شانه بالا انداختند؛ «چاک» گفت: چیزی نیست؛ و برای سومین بار گفت: ولی بدجور زمین خورد، رنگش حسابی پریده، نه؟ «بیل» با اشتیاق به دختران هشت ساله ی دوقلویش که دست در دست اسکیت بازی میکردند نگاه کرد و دوباره متوجه «جانی» شد

گفت: خوب شد بچه س، اگه آدم بزرگ بود جون سالم به در نمیبرد؛ «چاک» پاسخ داد: البته نه هر آدم بزرگی؛ و هر دو زدند زیر خنده و بطری را دوباره دست به دست کردند؛ ده دقیقه بعد سردرد «جانی» کمتر شده بود، و دوباره داشت روی یخ اسکیت بازی میکرد، و ورم بالای چشمش هم مثل یک مارک عجیب روی پیشانیش خورده بود؛ به خانه که رسید، دیگر زمین خوردن و از هوش رفتن را، از شوق اینکه یاد گرفته بود چطور عقبی اسکیت بازی کند، فراموش کرده بود؛ «ورا اسمیت» همینکه «جانی» را دید، گفت: یا خدا، پیشونیت چی شده؟؛ گفت: افتادم زمین؛ و سوپ گوجه فرنگیش را هورت کشید؛ «ورا» ورم پیشانی او را آرام لمس کرد، و پرسید: حالت خوبه، «جان»؟؛ پاسخ داد: آره، مامان، خوبم؛ و خوب هم بود، به جز اندک مواقعی که کابوسهای بدی میدید، و این کابوس تا ماهها پس از آن هم ادامه داشت، و بعد تمام شد؛ گاهی هم پیش میآمد در ساعاتی از روز که سرحال بود، چرتش میگرفت، اما این مشکل هم همان موقعی که کابوسها به پایان رسید، حل شد؛ حالش خوب بود؛ اواسط فوریه بود، که «چاک اسپیر» یک روز صبح از خواب بیدار شد، و دید که باتری ماشین «دو سوتوی» چهل و هشت قدیمیش خالی کرده است؛ سعی کرد که با استفاده از باتری وانت قدیمی مزرعه اش باتری به باتری کند؛ سیم دوم را که به باتری ماشین «دو سوتویش» زد، باتری در صورتش منفجر و تکه های باتری و اسید روی صورتش پاشیده شد؛ یک چشمش کور شد؛ «ورا» میگفت لطف خدا بوده که هر دو چشمش کور نشده است؛ به نظر «جانی» تراژدی وحشتناکی بود، و یک هفته پس از ماجرا با پدرش به ملاقات «چاک» در بیمارستان «لویستون جنرال» رفت؛ دیدن «چاک» تنومند که آنطور مریض احوال و نحیف روی تخت بیمارستان افتاده بود، «جانی» را حسابی ناراحت کرد، و همان شب خواب دید، که خودش روی آن تخت خوابیده است؛ در سالهای بعد «جانی» حدس و گمانهایی میزد که درست از آب درمیآمد ـ مثلاً پیش از آنکه رادیو آهنگ بعدیش را پخش کند، او میدانست که آن آهنگ چه خواهد بود یا چیزهایی از این دست ـ اما هیچگاه این موضوع را به اتفاقی که روی برکه ی یخ زده افتاده بود، نسبت نمیداد؛ آن اتفاق را دیگر فراموش کرده بود ...)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 22/03/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 14/02/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Leo ..
Author 3 books378 followers
March 7, 2022
Fantastic book. Sixth sense. Teacher in an accident. Visions of the future. Great film too starring Christopher Walken.🐯👍

Loved the scene in the film when Christopher Walken is talking to Herbert Lom, his doctor.

He asks him, being that he is a Jew, if he could go back in time and get close to Adolf Hitler...Would he kill him?

Herbert Lom replies that he is a doctor and his job is to save lives...And finished by saying he would kill the son of a bitch! Classic Stephen King!

Imagine if you could go back in time like, 11:22:63 his other book, and take out a despot, or foil an assassination. The repercussions today would be...

Anyhow, the world would be a different place today. Even just one simple thing, changed in the past would have such an impact today. Ripples in the pond of time. 👍🐯
Profile Image for Luffy.
940 reviews702 followers
August 11, 2020
The Dead Zone is a brilliant book. It has practically no filler. It's criminally underrated. It was a fun read from beginning to the end. In a way, Johnny Smith reminded me of myself!

The bare bones of the plot are not important. I thought that a human life should always be considered with dignity. That sometimes doesn't happen with our hero. I use the term "hero" in the Greek sense of tragedy.

Please read this book if you haven't yet. It's far better than recent King books. I tried, on another site to ask for underrated King books. The Dead Zone was part of this recommendation. Everyone knew except for me. So, yeah.
Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,239 reviews2,229 followers
January 21, 2016
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 village carnival, this "gift" proves to be his undoing. Because while coming home late from the carnival, the taxi John is travelling in meets with a horrific accident, and he is precipitated into a four-year coma.

While he is asleep, John loses his career, girlfriend, everything. He wakes up a pauper in material terms, but endowed with the full-fledged version of his latent childhood gift.

And thus begins the career of John Smith, the clairvoyant.

As he moves from discovery to horrific discovery, the amount of darkness he unearths in human souls pushes John further and further down into a sort of spiritual abyss. There seems to no purpose to his tragic life, until he meets Greg Stillson, prospective presidential candidate. A casual handshake allows John Smith a look into the cesspit that is the soul of the future president of the USA: and suddenly, he finds that there is something he has to do. Finish of Stillson, before he finishes of civilisation as we know it...


There is horror in this novel. But it is not supernatural, oh no: John's supernatural power is benign. The horror is in what that power unearths. Yes, Greg Stillson is the boogeyman in this story.

One must pay homage to Stephen King's gift of seeing into the future. At the time the novel was written, people would have laughed at the idea that a secular democracy would elect a blackguard like Stillson into office. I would humbly suggest that events of the past two decades have convinced me otherwise.

This is one of the most meticulously crafted books that I have read. John's and Greg's careers start simultaneously, sure to meet at some point of time: yet King weaves the narrative so expertly that when the meeting finally takes place, there is no sense of the let-down of predestination. And the denouement (like in 11.22.63) is totally unexpected.

The last chapter, "Notes from the Dead Zone", is one of the most beautiful passages of prose in my experience. Stephen King rises almost to the level of a poet here, the way the words flow.

Five stars, all the way.
Profile Image for Ginger.
739 reviews341 followers
September 22, 2021
I’m not sure what to say in this review that hasn’t been said in the 4,000+ reviews done for the book, but here goes.

I’m late to the party with reading The Dead Zone!
It was published in 1980 and I finally got to it in 2021. Better late then never?!

The Dead Zone has politics, a serial killer, and star-crossed lovers.
It’s got tension, some mystery, heartbreak, and a deep empathy for the main character.
I ended up loving Johnny Smith by the end and all the characters were fantastic, even the ones that you hated.

The Dead Zone isn’t really horror, but it could feel like horror if you suddenly have the same ability that Johnny Smith does after his accident.

Years ago, I watched the movie staring Christopher Walken that was made in 1983. I was a bit surprised by some of the differences in the book vs movie.

My advice to you dear reader is, if there’s a movie being made of a Stephen King book, read the book first!
The movies usually don't compare and I can only think of a few examples that did a fantastic job with one of King's books.

Some thoughts after reading the book.

✔️ The book is more heart wrenching and raw. After reading this, I felt like I’d been stabbed in the heart.

✔️ I was more reflective while reading this and wondering how I would react if I had Johnny's abilities and life.
What’s that saying? It’s a gift and a curse.
Yep, that about sums it up.

✔️ The book is a wonderful character study about a happy and unassuming man, and then watching him go through dreadful changes when his life is shattered and he's given God like abilities.

Yeah, I'm really glad I finally showed up at the party!
I loved everything about this book and was not disappointed!
Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
628 reviews4,259 followers
March 25, 2021
“We all do what we can, and it has to be good enough, and if it isn't good enough, it has to do.”

I love early King. I still love current day King of course, but these early books are so powerful - he truly is firing on all cylinders in The Dead Zone. When I first read The Dead Zone years ago I was hungry for horror and so was left feeling a little disappointed. This time around, having matured as a reader in general... I was able to appreciate this one for what it is - an incredible novel that touches on love, lost chances and obligations.

Johnny Smith is in a car accident, which leaves him in a coma for over 4 years. When he awakes he has gained psychic abilities - he is able to see the past, present and future of those he touches. The Dead Zone feels like King dipping his toe into what would become 11/22/63. In the novel Johnny asks the question “if you travelled back to 1932 and are given the opportunity to do so, would you kill Hitler?” Johnny is left with a number of difficult decisions to make over the course of the story.

We all talk about Sadie and Jake, and Roland and Susan...our favourite King couples, but I gotta vouch for Johnny and Sarah. They are on the brink of falling in love at the beginning of the book before Johnny has his accident. We get such a short time seeing them together, but it is impactful and you just ACHE for them to be together. I love Johnny as a character - he has a great sense of humour and I just found him to be so damn likeable. Which makes it even more heartbreaking as he is dealt blow after blow. It hurt my heart.

The Dead Zone is more of a drama than a horror, with some science fiction elements thrown in, but what is truly terrifying are the parallels that can be drawn between Greg Stillson, the politician that Johnny forsees causing a nuclear war, and Donald Trump. The similarities are so eerie! King MUST have some some Johnny Smith powers of this own!

I am so glad that I decided to reread this one, as it has become a new favourite. And dare I say - one of King’s best endings?

5 stars.
Profile Image for R.K. Gold.
Author 13 books10.1k followers
December 1, 2020
Okay here we go Mr. John Smith. I know you have this strange ability to see into the future but did you see this review coming? Well, did ya? You feeling lucky John? Cause I sure as hell am after reading this. I'm not as sad to finish it as I was the dark tower series (because i poured so much emotion into finishing those damn books) but this was quite an enjoyable read; one I could really sink my teeth into when given a full day to do so.

The development of John, his relationship with his family (and Sarah) and the progression of his ability/the perception of his ability by others, was the driving force of this novel. In fact, it was more entertaining than the ultimate climax of the text, which dealt with the question of "if you could stop Hitler before he rose to power would ya?"

John felt an inordinate amount of pressure from his gift, which I thought serviced this book well. Rather than making him a superhero, his gift became more a question of mankind and morality.
Just another lovely King book that makes him the legendary author he is.
Profile Image for Zoeytron.
1,028 reviews661 followers
October 19, 2019
An incredible run of good luck with a Wheel of Fortune game at a county fair is the start of things spinning out of control for John Smith.  He is about to lose five years of his life in a horrible way.  When he returns, everything has changed.  Fate and predestination play their parts.  The stink of burning rubber persists, and there is a dead zone inside his brain.    

I'll lay it right down on the table for you.  More frightening to me than any monster are religious fanatics.  There is one in here who will give you a run for the money.  Eyes shining with a crazed light, she gibbers maniacally, spewing dire warnings of hellfire, and spraying spittle far and wide in her self-righteous fervor.  Bring in the clowns, even the spiders, if you must.  They are nothing compared to the nut job inside these pages.   

Originally published in 1979, it was a stroll down memory lane for me with reference to thirteen cent stamps, those old rabbit ears antennas augmented with the aluminum foil, and Walter Cronkite closing out the evening news with his signature "And that's the way it is."  I bought it hot off the presses when it was released and now, 40 years later, my estimation of it has gone up with this second read.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,895 reviews10.6k followers
October 29, 2013
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.

The Dead Zone has a simple enough premise: Johnny Smith returns from a coma with clairvoyance. What King does is turn it into a story of a man deciding how to use those abilities, whether or not to play God. And he does it fairly well.

Some of Stephen King's books are so overwritten that I think if I was in an elevator with Stephen King and asked him what time it was, he would tell me how to build a clock. Not so with the Dead Zone. This is King at his leanest and meanest, when he was still trying to be Richard Matheson and John D. MacDonald rather than the author no editor could tame. It reads more like a crime book than King's later works.

From reading On Writing, I thought this book would focus on Johnny Smith vs. Stillson, but that only happens in the last 20% of the book. It's not a trial version of 11/22/63 like I originally thought. Mostly, it's a man trying to play with the hand he's been dealt.

It's a pretty gripping read but it's not one of my favorite King books. I like the story but the only characters I felt any kind of attachment to were Johnny and his father. I was surprised by the ending, though, but I guess I shouldn't have. Stephen King was just getting started tearing the guts out of his readers at this point.

One thing I'm not sure if I liked or not: One of the characters references a book called Carrie. In the context of the Dark Tower series, does this mean The Dead Zone takes place in the Keystone world where Stephen King is writing the saga? I think it does. On the other hand, it also mentions Castle Rock. Does Carrie not take place in the universe as most of King's other books? Things to ponder...

The Dead Zone is a good early Stephen King book and probably the best book I've ever read that was turned into a movie starring Christopher Walken. That's about all I have to say about that. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,723 reviews6,664 followers
May 26, 2017
I've read some of Stephen King's titles but nowhere near enough, so I have made it a personal goal to read little by little until I get caught up...if that is even possible. This genius of a man has written a lot of books! I chose The Dead Zone for my next King novel simply because of the recently released audiobook. It's narrated by James Franco!! I absolutely adore him. Seriously, he could do a Pepsi commercial and I would DVR that sucker! Not only did he do a superb job in his narration in this audiobook, but King did a superb job in his writing of it. I loved this book and not only because of Franco. I found King's storytelling intoxicating. I have always enjoyed the books I have read by King but I have never felt as invested in a main character until The Dead Zone. Johnny is a well-written and complicated character, the many integrated situations he intervenes in are engaging, mysterious, and thrilling, and this fictional character written in the 70's who can foresee the future appears to have predicted America's current political dynamic, almost 40 years later. I don't discuss politics on social media and will always respect and support whoever holds the office of president, but I have to admit this element was more than a bit eerie. If you like King, Franco, the existing adaptations of this book, or just want to see what all the buzz is about (politically speaking), I strongly recommend checking out The Dead Zone!

Note: If interested, you can listen to an online interview clip with James Franco about the audiobook experience HERE.

My favorite quote:
“Ninety-five percent of people who walk the earth are simply inert. One percent are saints, and one percent are assholes. The other three percent are people who do what they say they can do.”
Profile Image for Simone James.
Author 10 books11.8k followers
March 20, 2023
Reread of one of my all-time favorite books. I read it every few years or so and always find something new. I adore it. I also love the audio narrated by James Franco. I said what I said :)
October 7, 2022
King does it again! I’m in love with this book!

But it did make me a little sad at the end it’s about the only King novel I have read that I have wished for a happy ending!

A real creepy read very hard to put down – it is also very current in 2020! I hadn’t really thought of the Dead Zone as one of SK greats as it is often overshadowed by IT, The Shining, Carrie and many MANY others – but this really was a stand out for me and maybe and good introduction to King. This book wasn’t as gory or ‘scary’ as a normal King but it is disturbing and thought provoking!

The characters are so believable in this book somehow even though the circumstances seem impossible! I really love Johnny and rooted for him throughout this book! This book is 100% worth the read and is just long enough at just shy of 500 pages.

"We all do what we can, and it has to be good enough, and if it isn't good enough, it has to do."

"The Question was this: If you could jump into a time machine and go back to 1932, would you kill Hitler?"

This is my second read of this book and I enjoyed it just as much if not more. I also watched the film straight after which is also really worth a watch!
Profile Image for Gabriel.
446 reviews587 followers
November 23, 2021
La historia sigue a Jhonny Smith, quien luego de un accidente despierta casi 5 años depués. Sí, mucho tiempo. Demasiado. Lo bueno (o lo malo) de esto es que despierta con un extraño poder; visiones. Todo objeto y a cada persona que toque inmediatamente sabrá cosas de ella. Una habilidad que a lo largo de todo el libro hará pensar al protagonista si es un don o una maldición.

Hablemos primero de Jhonny, que es lo más importante y es quien nos cuenta la mayor parte de la historia. En el prólogo lo vemos como un niño que sufre un pequeño accidente y tiempo después, ocurre lo mismo, pero esta vez peor, dejándolo en coma. Cuando despierta se encuentra con la realidad, que lo golpea con rudeza pues el tiempo se lo ha arrebatado todo. Es un personaje con muchísimos matices. Pasa por distintas circunstancias que te harán pensar y reflexionar. Y lo bueno del libro es que nunca te aburre. Y no, no es que haya mucha acción sino que el personaje pasa por momentos interesantes, haciendo que el lector tenga una montaña rusa de emociones.

Los demás son secundarios y sí aportan a la historia pero no es mucho lo que aparecen; Está Sarah, la ex-novia que ha seguido con su vida luego del accidente; Herb, el padre comprensivo y Vera, la madre religiosa fanática, quien deja una marca muy fundamental en Johnny; también tenemos al Dr Weizak, al sheriff Bannerman, Frank Dodd, Chuck y muchos más que tienen una pequeña pero importante relevancia. Ah y no nos olvidemos de Greg Stillson, El Tigre que Ríe.

Ahora, la sinopsis me llamó muchísimo la atención desde siempre, pero a medida que leía me decepcionaba mucho porque pensaba que era una trampa para el lector; donde este creía que esa sería la trama principal pero se estrellaría con otra cosa distinta, pero no del todo mala. Sin embargo, Greg Stillson sí fue un villano en la obra, con sus dotes de grandeza y sus actos descarados y aberrantes... pero al fin y al cabo no fue un villano con mucha relevancia. Él simplemente aportó algo indudable en el clímax de la trama: fue la desicion más díficil e importante de Johnny. Al principio, me decepcionó mucho que no fuera tanta su importancia como había pensado, pero una vez que terminé el acto final comprendí el por qué.

Así que hay tres cosas que no se deben esperar de La zona muerta:
1. Esta no es una historia donde el protagonista tratará en todo el libro de asesinar al futuro presidente de Estados Unidos.
2. Tampoco donde veremos al villano haciendo y deshaciendo en muchas páginas, como en otras obras de King, que lo profundiza más.
3. Mucho menos una historia llena de constante acción.

No se dejen llevar solo por la sinopsis (como me pasó a mí). La historia es mucho más que eso; lo vemos todo con los ojos del protagonista, a personajes con miedos e inseguridades pero con decisiones que van dejando marca, sea para bien o para mal. La historia de Johnny Smith es triste, cautivadora, reflexiva, emotiva y en cierta parte tranquilizante. Es una historia donde gran mayoría de los personajes no se olvidan y eso es gracias al protagonista.

Lo bueno: los personajes, todos ellos, pero más Smith; ese se lleva el puesto.
Lo malo: Quedé con ganas de más. Después de mucho pensarlo eso fue lo peor que me pudo pasar y es que el final me dejó frío.
Profile Image for HaMiT.
163 reviews23 followers
March 5, 2021
یکی دیگه از کتابای کینگ که شخصیت اصلیش بصیرت داره و میتونه گذشته، حال یا آینده رو ببینه و سعی می‌کنه از قدرتش درست استفاده کنه
با اینکه یه جاهاییش خسته‌کننده می‌شد و اضافه به نظر می‌رسید ولی راحت‌خوان بود. به جز قسمتی که مربوط به شرح یه جنایت می‌شه، چیز ترسناکی هم نداره
اقتباس سینمایی کراننبرگ هم جالب نبود. همون قسمت ترسناک رو هم تغییر داده بود. فقط داستان رو پیش می‌برد و تقریباً فیلم هندیش هم کرده بود و شخصیت پردازی درستی نداشت. شخصیت پردازی کتاب خیلی بهتره
Profile Image for Delee.
243 reviews1,101 followers
November 14, 2013
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 novel. To me this was the perfect start into the genre. It is suspenseful and gripping without being gory.

Johnny Smith- is a well liked small-town schoolteacher. After dropping off his first love -Sarah- at her house , he gets into a horrible car accident, which puts him into a coma for five...long...years. When he finally wakes up, everything has changed. Sarah has moved on, his mother is even mooooooore unstable, his father is having a hard time coping with his marriage and hospital bills, and a man called Greg Stillson has entered into the world of politics. Something else is different too- while John has always had an uncanny ability to find lost things or predict small future events, now this "gift" has turned into something much more powerful.

This will always be one of my favorite Stephen King novels- partly because it was my first, and also because of John Smith and his story- he is certainly a character I have never wanted to let go of. This is my second reading of the book, I watch the movie at least once a year, and I also loved the cheesy -TV USA Network starring Anthony Michael Hall- version of it as well.

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Profile Image for Michelle.
1,341 reviews115 followers
June 13, 2020
'If this talent was a gift from God, then God was a dangerous lunatic who ought to be stopped'

When I decided to read all SK works in publication order it was purely because I was told this was the easiest way to spot signs of the multiverse and I think I've found my first cross overs! This book directly mentions Salems Lot and Carrie. I am of course wondering if I missed any subtle links though so help a girl out if there's others in this book.

Another brilliant read from SK! I imagine reading this in the early 80's the character of Stillson would have seemed ridiculous but you can definitely see the parallels between him and Trump.

Really loved Johnny Smith, such an all round genuine character that I found so relatable and just rooted for. And Herb, ahhh Herb!

I didnt overly love the ending, I'm left with a few unanswered questions but overall I really enjoyed this.

Four stars.
Profile Image for Justin.
273 reviews2,248 followers
November 24, 2018
The first part of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone was just straight-up fun to read. It had that Something Wicked This Way Comes vibe to it with the spinning wheel, the creepy carnival worker, and Johnny Smith pressing his luck and drawing a crowd. It was the first chapter in what ultimately becomes The Saga of John Smith, Psychic or Something.

The rest of the book walks through events where this psychic ability becomes useful in a number of ways, ultimately leading up to a thrilling, larger-than-life climax that puts ole Johnny in a precarious situation with huge stakes, really unbelievable stakes, but, man, when you get there, who even cares anymore? This guys is magical and he’s saving the world!

Having multiple plots building on each other was a little awkward at times. I finished one storyline and moved on to the next section, and this time Johnny has landed a new job of living somewhere else, time jumps forward a bit, and those precious events are only mentioned a few times, replaced by something even bigger this time. Johnny’s gotta take his powers to the next level. Time to ditch the minor leagues and show the majors what you can do for once.

Mr. King never fails at setting a scene or developing his characters, and his abilities are on full display here as well. Vera, the mother, is a little over the top with her fanatical religious antics, but it’s there for a reason. Sarah and her adventures that become more subplot are drawn up very well and her relationship with Johnny plays out in an interesting, and mostly believable way. The bad guys are bad. There are a few of them around. I loved the small town setting, especially as the political stuff started to kick in later. Hearing King bounce his political views around a bit through the dialogue was a treat. I dig his style.

This was certainly a thrilling adventure, and at times it even made me think. If I had that kind of ability, if I could see things happening down the road, how would I handle it? What decisions would I be willing to make? It was cool to read a King book and get myself all mixed up in a wild story, but I also came away thinking about life just a smidge. That doesn’t always happen with this guy. Sometimes it’s vampires and werewolves. Other times it’s dead zones and saving people.

Firestarter is next (which my iPhone insists should be two words, so maybe I’m wrong here). I haven’t read that one yet, ever. Looking forward to taking another step on this read-King-books-in-order trail. I’ve never made it this far before, and I’ve got a long way to go, but it’ll be nice to fill in the gaps with books like this one that I skipped in the past or just never got around to. Also, Drew Barrymore.

Profile Image for Marchpane.
293 reviews2,106 followers
October 1, 2020
Most of Stephen King’s famous early novels have an iconic scene (Carrie at the prom), an iconic character (number 1 fan Annie Wilkes) or just a really simple hook (vampires; deserted creepy hotel; zombie pets; killer dog; killer car; killer clown etc… )

The Dead Zone, on the other hand, is the one with the ordinary schoolteacher (John Smith, no middle name) who might be a touch psychic, who gets in an accident, ends up in a coma, wakes up from the coma to discover he’s really psychic, avoids using this new ability, then (reluctantly) uses it a bit, mostly to save people/property from fires, once (reluctantly) to chase a serial killer, then … eventually … to try to save America and the world from a loose cannon politician.

So yeah, it’s baggy and unfocused but I remember being totally engrossed the first time I read this (probably around age 12 or 13). Even minor details and scenes have stuck with me—like the traveling salesman hawking lightning rods at a dusty roadhouse bar. It’s the storytelling. It doesn’t matter that it’s slow and sinuous, that the pacing is uneven, that it’s kind of cheesy, King the Storyteller casts some kind of spell.

This re-read was a lot of fun, but something niggled at me. Something felt different since I last read this book. It’s not that it seems dated (it was already dated the first time around) or that I’m a more discerning reader (although I’d like to think so!). Eventually it clicked… 11/22/63. I’d read 11/22/63.

Published 32 years apart, 11/22/63—which does have a really simple hook: time travel to save JFK!—and The Dead Zone are like fraternal twins. Both involve political assassinations. One has a psychic who can see the future; the other has a time-traveller from the future. John needs to prevent a fictional disaster; Jake needs to change a real historical event. John aims to preserve our reality; Jake attempts to change it. It’s killing Hitler versus… saving JFK.

It’s not like 11/22/63 is a complete rehash, they’re very different books in many ways. But the similarities that are there make it all the more obvious when these two novels diverge on big questions like ‘can one man be a hero?’ and ‘can you ever cheat fate?’ And it made me see the ending of The Dead Zone in a whole new light.
Profile Image for Metodi Markov.
1,273 reviews294 followers
February 7, 2022
Първата книга на Краля, която прочетох още като младеж (тогава тийнове нямаше още).

Естествено, бях запленен и съм му заклет почитател, ако и през годините понякога да не са ми допадали творбите му.

Но "Мъртвата зона" си остана една от любимите ми книги, заради интересните герои и страхотно развитата история. Многократно съм я препрочитал, винаги с голямо удоволствие.

И не веднъж съм се чудел, как ли щях да действам, ако аз бях на мястото на Джони и какви избори бих направил.

Да успееш читателят да се припознае с героя ти е много трудно постижимо и се отдава на малцина автори, но за това Кинг е Краля и няма втори като него!

За да дойдат после "Гняв", "Дългата разходка", "Кристин", "Сейлъмс лот", "То", "Особени сезони", "11/22/63", "Сестричките от Елурия" и последващите патила на стрелеца Роланд, и още, и още...
Profile Image for Paul Nelson.
627 reviews140 followers
October 28, 2014
Next up on my Stephen King quest is The Dead Zone, again it’s not a review as such but a collection of my thoughts on the book. So there may well be spoilers but I think pretty much everyone has read it a long time ago anyway, all except me.

After reading The Stand & Salem’s Lot in quick succession, you start to appreciate what a spellbinding storyteller The King can be and I can compare these to the other end of the spectrum, his newly released material, Mr Mercedes & Doctor Sleep. The outstanding feature in his new material is the depth he gives to his characters, a depth that was touched on but not prevalent at the start of his career. His new stuff wraps the art of storytelling neatly into a bundle, with gripping characterization and plots that leave you hanging on for more.

The Dead Zone sort of explores Stephen King’s development as a skilled author, in this book he shows that his characters are becoming more deeply fleshed out than previous works but in my opinion he loses his way with the story a little, concentrating more on one aspect of the story and dropping the ball in others.

I did enjoy the story of Jonny Smith, he is a character that is easy to invest everything in but my problem lay with the bad guys. They simply weren’t in the story enough to get any feel for, There was a chapter about the killer early on and then nothing more until he was identified, which was a little too easy, there should have been more airtime devoted to the killer to ramp up the tension, no reveal but more focus around his acts themselves.

Then we have Greg Stillson who for me just wasn’t a worthy bad guy for the end play, truthfully I couldn’t give a flying fuck what happened to him and Jonny’s mission to kill the guy seemed almost meaningless to me. I appreciate he saw him becoming President and heralding a nuclear war but I was more taken in by Jonny and his teaching successes with Chuck, the lightning strike and his relationship with Sarah than I was with how the book ended.

I know this book is well thought of by most, even a favourite but for me it was a case of the writer honing his considerable talents for future forays, primarily a character driven story that sacrificed plot devices that when I think back could have been made a classic so easily by simply veering slightly off the path he set for himself.

Anyway that’s just my opinion and I guess most wouldn’t wholeheartedly agree with it but it’s my Stephen King trip and that’s how I see it.

So that’s 16 completed from my target of 66 books and a nice round 50 to go, a fair undertaking I think you’ll agree.

Profile Image for Dennis.
656 reviews263 followers
November 4, 2020
Stephen and I we have the most curious relationship.

I've got this list of Stephen King novels that make me beg to please let me die already, because of all of this time he takes to build his characters and their backstories, going into every minor detail of seemingly every experience they make, no matter how inconsequential they may seem to be for the plot. I also have this other list of Stephen King novels. The ones I adore, because of all of this time he takes to build his characters and their backstories, going into every minor detail of seemingly every experience they make, no matter how inconsequential they may seem to be for the plot. Sometimes I almost think it simply comes down to pure luck, or maybe timing, whether I like his books or not. Sure, there’s also this third group of books, those in which he is also waffling endlessly, but with no pay-off whatsoever. Or at least none that I am capable of seeing. But most of the time his books will land in one of the two categories above, where I can appreciate him as a writer and, for pretty much the same reasons, either love or hate the book.

This one here falls squarely on the positive side of the spectrum. Like pretty much every King novel it requires patience. But the story of a man that, in the prime of his life, has a tragic accident, spends years in a coma, wakes from said coma when almost everyone had given up hope, discovers that he now possesses a gift for knowing things about people by simply touching them, which soon turns into a burden as he tries to fight his way back into life, this story comes with a pay-off. It took its time to draw me in, sure. But there was still a lot of story left when I very much started to feel for Johnny, feared for what was going to happen to him, became curious about when and how he would cross paths with the other main character.

This other main character is a ruthlessly opportunistic politician that has a knack for entertaining the masses, and also a program that includes shooting garbage bags to Mars in order to solve the problem of pollution. Yes, he did indeed remind me of another clown politician, just like people had told me he would.

There’s also a side-plot about a serial killer, that makes Johnny turn up in Castle Rock, and a lot of (at the time) contemporary topics that King touches upon. It was a very immersive experience. And while I don’t feel quite the same love for it that I feel for It or Needful Things, it was definitely very rewarding and a highly enjoyable read.

A buddy read with the Stephen King Readers in SpecFic to be precise. Thanks, guys! It was fun.

Up next in my already failed attempt to read all the stories set in Castle Rock, before I will read Needful Things: Cujo
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