Next up in the #ChronologicallyKing readalong! Chandra and I took a pass on the rereads of The Shining and Night Shift last month, but March was one we were looking forward to!
THE DEAD ZONE – Stephen King (Originally Released 1979)
Waking up from a five-year coma after a car accident, former schoolteacher Johnny Smith discovers that he can see people’s futures and pasts when he touches them. Many consider his talent a gift; Johnny feels cursed. His fiance married another man during his coma and people clamor for him to solve their problems. When Johnny has a disturbing vision after he shakes the hand of an ambitious and amoral politician, he must decide if he should take drastic action to change the future.
Chandra’s Thoughts: 4/5 stars
I kind of want Johnny to touch me…. wait, that doesn’t sound quite right but those of you have read this book will know what I mean ;). Would you be afraid of him touching you or would you be curious on what he could possibly see? OoOoOoOo!
I can tell you one thing, I would never listen to the audio because James Franco… no thank you. But reading this again literal decades later was very interesting. I realized that certain things came back to me as I read but since it’s been SO LONG, it almost read like an entirely new book. I’ve seen some reviews about people going, “WAIT A MINUTE, THIS ISN’T HORROR?!” Okay people, please please realize that King writes way more than just horror, even though that’s what he’s best known for. I just feel like people should know this after the centuries he’s been around. Tee hee.
In any case, I really enjoyed Johnny’s journey through this… and his relationship with Sarah – no matter how troubled it was throughout the years. Sometimes there’s just that one person who sticks to you no matter what… and King creates these wonderfully. Was this my favorite by King? No. Did I find this too political like some people did? Also no. I did enjoy this reread way more than I thought I would and do think this is underrated overall by readers in general.
Now this next part will be a bit spoilery, so LOOK AWAY if you don’t want to be spoiled:
SPOILER: I found it interesting that King took a character like Johnny who ensures the demise of a candidate that would’ve been President which would have led the country into a horrific future. Then later he takes another character in 11/22/63, with Jake, and had him go back to STOP the assassination of John F. Kennedy and that book to us to a different future that we didn’t know would come because of it. Get me? *wink* God, I love how King’s mind works sometimes.
My Thoughts: 4/5 stars
What I love about doing this reread is that I get to revisit books I haven’t read in over a decade. Some details on a few were fuzzy but I could remember the general parts of the story, and I feel like THE DEAD ZONE was one of those books.
Johnny Smith was having an incredible bit of luck until a horrible car crash that leaves many dead, and Johnny in a coma. Years later, he awakes to find his world completely flipped on him and he has developed a new ability – he can peer into the souls of those he touches.
This definitely falls into the question of, if you knew something that was going to happen, would you try to prevent it? Is this a blessing or a curse? What would you do with the information you found out? So many questions as this story progresses and I think King does an incredible job creating these characters for us. Johnny’s background and his relationship with Sarah are what made him feel authentic and real.
I wouldn’t categorize this as horror, but as avid King fans will know, he doesn’t solely stick to the horror genre. I would probably categorize this one as more of a science fiction novel. I think this book benefited from the reread because its a title that often gets overlooked. So I would highly recommend it!