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Gaining supernatural powers after an accident is something Stephen King has done more than once, Duma Key springs to mind for one.
A happy trainee teacher is involved in a serious accident. He slips into a coma. When he wakes up his whole life has been turned upside down. Fiancee gone, and now he can see the evil in men's souls. The problem of course is no one will believe him when he tries to warn them of impending danger.
This is a great book, and it was a couple of nights I forgot to sleep because I was so engrossed. I am sure that you will be. It is not actually scary, except in a few places, but like many of his books it is very much disturbing. You will also relate to the poor man who's life is destroyed by a simple accident.
A King fan? You'll love it.
Never read King? Start here.
The Dead Zone was written by Stephen King more than 20 years ago, and was one of the very first of his many books that I read. Since then I have read it at least 4 or 5 times along with watching the film at least as many times. It will not be loved by those who are addicted to the horror/weird aspects of Stephen King's books. However, it is a masterful psychological 'thriller' in the development of the plot and the main characters, with excellent insights, too, into modern life and some of it's conundrums and misunderstandings. The minor characters, such as the Vietnamese gardener, are also well developed and offer interesting and thought-provoking insights. John Smith suffers a head injury in a car crash and lies in hospital in a coma for years. Upon awakening, he can accurately 'predict' events for individual people after touching them. Not unnaturally, this causes him pain and 'agnst' and notoriety, this coupled with the heartbreaking realisation that the world has gone on without him, his girlfriend has since married and has a child. He is asked by police to assist in the pursuit of a serial killer which for me is one of the most memorable scenes ever written by Stephen King, and so graphically portrayed in the film. Whilst he tries to slip back un noticed into society his “Gift” still haunts him and ultimately destroys him. I consider this novel King's 'tour de force' and would recommend it to those who enjoy suspense and the study of the human psyche - you will enjoy. Should you have not yet read the book or seen the film I would recommend you read the book first which will then set the tone for the film, which stars Christopher Walken as the tormented John Smith.
In the last few months I've gotten in to Bob Dylan, bought The Pearl by Brian Eno, read my way through the Hitchiker trilogy, not to mention experiencing what us mere mortals call 1984 by George Orwell. In retrospect it was a bad time to come back to The Dead Zone. When I read it two years ago it was thrilling and well crafted, and while it's still a great book, this time it just seemed a bit too Bestsellerish. There's a fantastic storey to be told, but sometimes it seems a bit corny. The dialogue is too often melodramatic, and ends up sounding like something from Sunset Beach. Perhaps what I wanted was the Stephen King who wrote The Shining. The Stephen King who created something so wonderfully impossible that I just had to believe it. The Stephen King who wrote something that you had to make an effort to read, not something that you can just scan read on an airplane. The Dead Zone is less of a challenge, I don't really have to think too hard or see things from anybody's angle. But anyway, as I said, the actual storey is good, if a little far fetched. Prologue Our leading man is John Smith. As a six year old he takes a fall while skating and gets a knock to his head. While dazed he mutters to a man called Chuck who's helping him up, 'Don't jump it no more. The explosion.The acid'. A few month later Chuck's battery in his car explodes in his face while he was trying to jump start it. He loses an eye. Nobody, not even John, remembers saying this, and so the whole accident is forgotten in a few weeks. As he's growing up he sometimes gets hunches about where lost items are or what record is going to be played next on the radio, but he never makes a connection between these and the accident. It then cuts to a travelling Bible salesman called Greg Stillson. He calls to a farmhouse, where it turns out there's nobody home. This lea
ds to a horrific scene where Greg beats to death a dog that approaches him. It's obvious he has problems controlling his temper, but he feels he's destined for something great. Main Storey John, now all grown up, is a high school teacher. His lovely lady, Sarah, is also a teacher in the same school. They go to a county fair where they inevitably act all lovey dovey, and realise they are infatuated with each other. Sarah eats a bad hot dog and becomes ill. On their way to the car they stop at a Wheel of Fortune. Here John gets some strong hunches and wins five hundred and forty dollars. He calls a cab from Sarah's apartment. On the journey back to his house the cab crashes into a car thats been racing another car in the street. John is sent through the windcscreen. He's in a coma. The shock sends his already deeply religous mother into increasingly more crazy beliefs, which crushes her husband to see her so unlike the woman he once knew. After two years Sarah remarries in the belief that Johnny will never wakev uphis belief is held by everybody except his mother, who believes that God has a plan for him. Four and a half years later he wakes up, and while dazed tells a nurse that her sons upcoming operation will be succesful, and this turns out to be true. He later tells a doctor after holding his wallet, that his mother wasn't killed by the Nazis in Poland, but is living in Poland. which is also true. It appears that he can sometimes see things in peoples lives after touching them or an item belonging to them. The press hear of his talent. I think I'll leave it there, but I will say that Greg and Johnny's paths do cross, in an attempt to prevent some terrible things that will happen if Greg is able to continue as he does. It's a wonderful storey, but it's not King at his full capabilities
Another superb work of fiction from the pen of Stephen King. I liked his earlier work alot and its good to see that he seems to be making something of a return to form with some of his recent work as well following a pretty poor spell where for me he tried to become too clever. Rose Madder, Deloris Clairborne, Gerald's Game, Needful Things etc. simply did not cut it in my opinion...but this, one of his earlier offerings, certainly does! The Dead Zone was one the first Stephen King novel I read ad I was instantly hooked. It tells the story of Johnny Smith, who after suffering a near fatal accident in a taxi falls into a deep coma which lasts for over four years. Awakening after this time he finds that his fiancee has married someone else and that his life is completely changed. He also discovers that he now has a bizarre ability to be able to see snippets of a person's future by touch alone, gift(curse?) which brings him elebrity statis and further changes his life for the worse. His new-found 'freak' status means that he is no longer welcome to return to his job as a school teacher but instead finds work doing private tutoring and involves himself in politics by wandering around conventions shaking politicians hands so that he can see what their future holds... Previous to this we are show a travelling salesman by the name of Greg Stilson who is shown to be a particularly unpleasant character in one of the most unpleasant(in my animal-loving eys anyway) scenes I have read in a King novel. I must say that animal cruelty seems to feature quiet prominently in some of King's work, but then I suppose he plays on what we the public are going to find repulsive to achieve the required reaction. Stilson arrives at a house and finds no one home but a barking dog which I guess annoys him so after spraying a vinegar solution into its eyes, procedes to kick it to death...for no apparant reason other than the fact that he is having a bad day.
The paths of these two characters collide when Smith eventually comes across Greg Stilson, now a future presidential candidate, and sees through his handshake that he will precipitate a nuclear war in the future unless he never becomes President. Naturally Smith is dismissed as a crank by Stilson who continues his political ascendancy and Smith vows that he must be stopped...whatever it takes... This novel is a real pager turner. King creates two strong characters in the sapling, pathetically weak Smith and the strong yet highly repugnant Stilson. Smith is shunned by society for his bizarre curse and appearance, whilst Stilson, a borderline psychopath who will later cause a nuclear war, is accepted with open arms because of his sharp suit and glittering smile. Neither character is particulary appealing to the reader but in the true nature of humanity we find ourselves rooting for the underdog who is Smith. King makes him feel like a friend, whilst Stilson is never portrayed as anything but a sleazy piece of scum right from the very beginning. Its a great story from start to finish. We are of course asked to swallow a number of gaping plot holes and believe the unbelievable along the way, but open wide and do so because if you can then you are in for a treat.
This was my first introduction to the weird world of Stephen King. It hooked me. The Dead Zone was responsible for a marked decline of interest in anything that wasn't supernatural, thought-provoking and downright bizarre. Based around the life of John Smith, this is a tale about the gift of Pyschometry, a paranormal activity that involves receiving psychic signals from whomever or whatever the person touches. John received a head injury as a child whilst ice-skating, and a further blow to his head during a car accident in later life, leaves him comatose in hospital for 5 years. During this time there are changes in his personal life that he is completely oblivious to, and his physical condition deteriorates as time takes it's toll on his muscles and general health. His waking is therefore considered miraculous, but everyone is unaware, including John, of just how miraculous his recovery will be. The psychometric powers display themselves early on, leaving him and others confused. This great gift has it's benefits but with the good comes the inevitable bad. The visions are emotionally charged which drain him, they are disorientating and terrifying on occasion, and there is one vibration that is incomprehensible and the carrier of a knowledge of dread. This is the key tale to the book... As I usually do, I will leave the plot at this point because if I didn't you wouldn't bother to read the book to find out the ending. Presuming, of course, that you haven't seen the film (starring Christopher Walken) and know the ending already. The storyline held me spellbound, as well as the romantic angle which had been complicated by his accident - Mr. King is very good at those. I loved the way the gift was tainted by it also being a curse to give the added edge of horror and suspense, showing both sides of the scale almost simaltaneously, the good of it with the awfulness of his burden. I have r
e-read this story many times over the years, and now it seems very naive compared to the complex and massive tomes us SK fans have come to expect. You could read this in a couple of days, and now recognise the places where he would have gone to make it more involved had he written it at this stage in his career. I'm glad he didn't. This is just right for those who want to start reading his works and gives an excellent foretaste of the entertainment that is still to come. This was my first. For that reason it stays with me as one of my favourites. The start of an incredible amount of unforgettable literary journeys that Mr. King has taken me on. Cheers mate!
This was the first Stephen King book I read, and it lead me to read more. The opener of the book catches you immediately, unlike other books that drone on until something starts happening. The main storyline is about a man called Johnny Smith who is involved in a serious car crash and ends up in a coma for 5 years. When he awakes, he is not only aware of the massive changes especially in politics, but he can also sense the past and future of a person by touching him/her or something belonging to him/her. A part of his brain was damaged by the crash, the part which he calls the Dead Zone. Since the crash, he could not recall place names and destinations. There are two sub-storylines in this book, the first of a serial rapist/killer who was "active" while Johnny was in the coma. As the public became aware of his so-called physcic abilities, he was called in by the police force to try to track down the killer. This story is full of the idea that people will only believe what they want to, no matter what the truth is. The second is of a "village idiot" type of character, who has a dark side of using force to get his own way. He uses this force to get himself into the mayor's seat. Because of Johnny's awareness of the political changes, he becomes paranoid of what this madman could do. Especially when he gets one of his "flashbacks" after shaking his hand. This is a very-well written and structured book. Small parts of the story in the early chapters which seem like space-fillers do become relatively major keys to the plot later on, a skill which many authors do not have.
If any of King's novels exemplifies his skill at portraying the concerns of his generation, it's The Dead Zone (1979). Although it contains a horrific subplot about a serial killer, it isn't strictly a horror novel. It's the story of an unassuming high school teacher, an Everyman, who suffers a gap in time -- like a Rip Van Winkle who blacks out during the years 1970-75 -- and thus becomes acutely conscious of the way that American society is rapidly changing. He wakes up as well with a gap in his brain, the "dead zone" of the title. The zone gives him crippling headaches, but also grants him second sight, a talent he doesn't want and is reluctant to use. The crux of the novel concerns whether he will use that talent to alter the course of history. The Dead Zone is a tight, well-crafted book. When asked in 1983 which of his novels so far was "the best," Stephen King answered, "The one that I think works the best is Dead Zone. It's the one that [has] the most story."
Does Steven King ever write anything less than works of art? Not in my opinion, I have just finished reading the Dead Zone by him, a story about a young man who has a tragic accident which puts him in a coma for years, he awakes to find years have passed, his sweetheart has married another guy and his mum is going crazy!, he also finds he posesses a special power which has made him phychic, he undertakes a task of finding the brutal murderer of sevaral young women, this leads him very close to home, although he now has to walk with sticks and has pins and bolts holding his joints together after numerous operations the result of the car accident he was in, he is still able to help find the killer who seems to choose his victims at random, from young girls to elderly ladies. A hit with me this book has also bee made into a major movie, although you can't beat the book in my view!
This is one of Stephen King's most consistently gripping thrillers, and one not unafraid to make a "statement" of some kind too. It tells the story of John Smith, who develops an ability to see the future, but is unsure whether this is a curse or a blessing until he foresees armageddon at the hands of a power-hungry and immoral politician and sets about changing the future. The characters are nicely developed in this novel, and unlike much of King's other books, it has a well rounded and satisfying ending. And a generally scathing assessment of American reactionary politics makes it far more interesting than just another horror thriller.
Whatever his shortcomings -- and he has some big ones -- Stephen King can tell a good story, and this is one of the best of them. But I think he has ambitions to be taken seriously by the EngLit crowd too, and there are themes in all of his books. The Dead Zone may represent the first appearance of a theme he more famously explores in Christine: the American cult of the automobile. The book's hero, John Smith, acquires a psychic talent in childhood when he injures his head skating on "cleared ice" at one corner of which "two rubber tires burned sootily". However, the talent lies dormant until Smith visits a fairground with his girlfriend and plays the "Wheel of Fortune" after which this part of the book is named. He has a flashback to the smell of burning rubber as he wins several hundred dollars. The same evening, travelling home from his girlfriend's house in a taxi, he is very badly injured in a car-crash and enters a coma that lasts for five years. He re-emerges with his psychic talent fully developed and his world startlingly changed. The most immediately obvious sign of the latter is that gas (petrol) is much more expensive and much scarcer. Once he has left hospital, Smith's talent leads him to take an interest in politics: by shaking hands with candidates for Presidential and Congressional office, he is able to "read" their futures. One day he shakes the hand of an ex-travelling salesman called Greg Stillson. Stillson is running for Congress. He plays John Denver at his rallies, wears a yellow hard hat, and gives away free hot-dogs. Nobody takes him seriously, but the handshake tells Smith that he will be President one day and destroy the world. So Smith decides he will have to assassinate him. Stillson's full name -- mentioned only twice, I think -- is Gregory Ammas Stillson. I don't think the initials are a coincidence: in part, The Dead Zone is intended to say something about the car. Bu
t it's more obviously intended to say something about an insane right-wing politician on his way to the White House, and one wonders whether John Hinckley came across a copy before he shot Ronald Reagan in 1981 -- and whether Stephen King likes to think so.