Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Dead Zone” as Want to Read:
The Dead Zone
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Dead Zone

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  187,965 ratings  ·  4,386 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
Mass Market Paperback, 402 pages
Published August 1980 by Signet/New American Library (first published August 30th 1979)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Dead Zone, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
SmarterLilac Yeah, yeah, It is fine. And very relevant to a whole swath of major social issues affecting the psychology of an entire generation.

So is The Dead Zone…more
Yeah, yeah, It is fine. And very relevant to a whole swath of major social issues affecting the psychology of an entire generation.

So is The Dead Zone. In a big way. Really a transgenerational condemnation of how our parents (and grandparents) effed up our society and what it would take if anyone wanted to (or could) avoid the worst. But I don't think about this novel as mere social commentary, (even the important, non-sentimental kind) but as a brutally insightful discussion of the burden of Knowing, either as a psychic, a prophet, a scientist, an historian or anyone else, that Bad Things are coming and You are the sole obstacle in their way. It is a heavy and hard responsibility to carry, and very few will be able to wield it well. Even John Smith, though he makes the right choice (just barely) finds his 'luck' run out eventually. And what of those who remain? The other characters have all chosen to try to save society in other ways--but we know how well conventional approaches worked out for the Boomers, don't we?

Pennywise? Has nothing on Frank Dodd. What Bill, Beverly, et al experience? Has never moved me the way John Smith's last stand(s) did.

What's past is prologue. The Dead Zone is every bit as important to 2016 readers as it ever was. (less)
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
141 books — 3,518 voters
The Shining by Stephen KingIt by Stephen King'Salem's Lot by Stephen KingDracula by Bram StokerPet Sematary by Stephen King
Best Horror Novels
1,785 books — 5,451 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  187,965 ratings  ·  4,386 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Dead Zone
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, hea
Mario the lone bookwolf
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: king-stephen
A heavily shattered psi protagonists deals with the demons his unwanted gift shows him by playing the more or less voluntary hunter (view spoiler).

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 w
Jeffrey Keeten
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, book-to-film
“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, mayb
Apr 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Carol by: Florence
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'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 politi

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 fro
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star
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 si
Leo .
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nandakishore Varma
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
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
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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 thi
R.K. Gold
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 famil
Sep 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dan Schwent
May 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, 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.

Johann (jobis89)
A shining example of how a reread can change your entire experience with a book. My expectations were different on this reread and it hit me hard. What an underrated gem. Full review to come.
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 th ...more
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Amazing really enjoyed 💕' ...more
Edward Lorn
Oct 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: King fans and fans of politics
For Goodreads: 2.5 stars.

I think I dislike this book a little more every time I read it. The Dead Zone is, for the most part, boring setups that lead to lackluster climaxes, if they can be called climaxes at all. Maybe "payoffs" would be a better word... But I think what I dislike the most about this book is all the political mumbo jumbo. I simply don't give a shit about politics, and this book is full of it. If Johnny Smith isn't thinking about how shitty he has it, he's ruminating on the poli
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'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 t
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.

[image error] photo 7944f53f-01da-402e-bfc1-0d0e2bc6f0d4_zpsec2f5fa1.jpg

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
Oct 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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-li
Oct 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 usin
Oct 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary, horror
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
Paul Nelson
Sep 23, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-books-read
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 outstandi
Sadie Hartmann
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: king
January 2016-
Oh man! I totally read this book in January of 2014! I even wrote that in the book so I wouldn't forget. I mean, the minute I read the prologue, I knew I had read it recently. Johnny Smith, falls down ice skating and his world is never the same again. How can I forget that I read this? It wasn't even that long ago-two(ish) years ago?
So let me give more of a review though:
This is one of King's greatest character developments. The protagonist is someone we find ourselves very connecte
Michael Jandrok
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some time last year I decided that it would be a fun idea to reread a lot of the Stephen King canon, starting with his first novel, “Carrie” and then keeping to a more or less chronological schedule, adding in stuff like “The Dead Zone” and “Firestarter” that I had skipped back in the day for whatever unknown reason. I got as far as “The Shining” when I realized that I needed to get off track and knuckle down on “Doctor Sleep,” King’s 2013 sequel to the original and find out what happened to the ...more
Apr 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have had this book on my to read list for so long and finally decided to take the plunge. I had watched the film many years ago and maybe that was why the book didn't quite grip me the way the film did. The premise of the book where a man who wakes up from a five-year coma and is able to see the future and past of people he touches is certainly fascinating and opens a lot of avenues for the author to explore. The story is laid out well and there are some good characters but the book didn't qui ...more
Valliya Rennell
1.25 stars
DNF @89%

Me at the moment:

The Dead Zone is my least favorite Stephen King novel so far. I genuinely didn't like it at best, really hated it at worst. I thought it was boring, in-comprehensive, and bland. The main story centers aroudn Johnny Smith, your average ya-hoo, who happened to get himself into an accident and (after 4.5 years in a coma) wakes up to find himself being a seer. Interesting enough set-up. Unfortunately, the book becomes a mess after these first chapters.

First, I'd l
Nov 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, 2020-reads
A paranormal thriller form Stephen King published 1979.

4 star excellence.
This is a book that has been kicking around my place for years. A book I promised myself that I’d get round to one of these days. Then after reading some glowing reviews on GR I thought now is the time.

It turned out be a great read.

On this occasion SK delves into one of his favourite topics, the latent power of the human brain.
After two accidents, one minor and the other serious, Johnny Smith ends up in a coma, a coma that
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
Michael Sorbello
Johnny Smith has it all. A wonderful streak of luck, a great sense of humor, a promising career, a loving family and an amazing girlfriend. Johnny's luck finally runs out when a catastrophic car crash kills several people and sends him into a coma for four years. When Johnny finally wakes up, his world has been flipped upside down and he gains the haunting ability to peer into the souls of those he touches. Is this a blessing or a curse? After reading to the end, I can't help but feel that it's ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Spanish Readers: La zona muerta [Noviembre 2019] 9 116 Nov 28, 2020 09:16AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Add an alternate cover edition: Popular novels with ACEs? 3 14 Oct 19, 2020 12:41PM  
Fox Book Club: Stephen King 3 183 Mar 24, 2020 03:25PM  
Goodreads Librari...: ISBN 1501144502 (ISBN13: 9781501144509) 5 27 Oct 17, 2019 07:19PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Roadwork
  • The Long Walk
  • Thinner
  • The Running Man
  • Rage
  • The Regulators
  • The Body
  • Misery
  • The Exorcist
  • Blaze
  • NOS4A2
  • Horns
  • The Bachman Books
  • Heart-Shaped Box
  • The Breathing Method
  • The Green Mile: The Screenplay
  • Interview with the Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles, #1)
  • Collected Stories
See similar books…
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

Articles featuring this book

You know winter is coming. You don't blink around statues. You're a true believer. When it comes to escapism, you're an expert. To...
80 likes · 21 comments
“Some things were better lost than found.” 197 likes
“We all do what we can, and it has to be good enough, and if it isn't good enough, it has to do.” 70 likes
More quotes…