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The Dead Zone (Signet) Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 1980
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
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In the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost & Gothic Writers, Gary Westfahl predicts that "King has already earned himself a place in the history of literature.... At the very least, he will enjoy the status of a latter-day Anthony Trollope, an author respected for his popularity and social commentary.... More likely, he will be enshrined as the Charles Dickens of the late 20th century, the writer who perfectly reflected, encapsulated, and expressed the characteristic concerns of his era."
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." --Fiona Webster
"Stephen King has done it again. A spellbinder, a compulsive page-turner."
-Dallas Times Herald
“Enthralling…superb.”—Dallas Times Herald
“Stephen King has done it again. A spellbinder, a compulsive page-turner.”—Atlanta Journal
“Faultlessly paced…continuously engrossing.”—Los Angeles Times
“Powerful tension holds the reader to the story like a pin to a magnet.”—Houston Post
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Novel Premise: Interesting! If you could travel back in time and kill Hitler, knowing what you know now, would you? Similarly, if you knew a politician running for office today would be the cause of the end of the world, would you assassinate said politician? And what would it be like if you were put into a coma, only to wake up years later, your life forever altered? There is an interesting romantic element to the novel, though tragic, and not the central topic.
Overall Impression: You'll be sucked in by the novel, though not right away. Give it 25 pages. Once King has you in his grips, per usual, you will not be able to put the book down. There are better King books. However, this novel treats death and relationships (past and present) with an interesting spin due to the supernatural and psychological premise. This book is not as scary as it is intense, not as horrific as it is the kind of book to stick a block of dread in the middle of your stomach, page per page.
Literary Merit: None. This is a genre novel, by an author at the top of his genre. Compared to his better works, this ranks higher than, say, books like 'The Tommyknockers' or 'Gerald's Game', but does not come close to novels like 'The Shining' or 'The Stand' where literary methods are in better representation.
The Bottom Line: Great for a Stephen King fan. Great for someone who is interested in the premise. Great for someone looking for an easy, relatable read. Not for someone who is a horror-novel junkie, you'll be underwhelmed. Not for someone who dislikes thriller novels, you might get queasy. I liked the book and rated it four stars out of five.
The takeaway is that, if you have a King section in your library, this deserves to be in it. If you're a King fan and haven't read this, you should. If you feel like I do, that one of King's greatest strength is his character development, then, I think you'll enjoy this.
This book is about a young man named Johnny, a high school teacher, who survives a fatal a car crash only to wake up with incredible psychic abilities. However, the car crash recovered Johnny's psychic abilities first occurred briefly after he fell, hitting his head at the age of five. Johnny, a good, loving and caring man awakes after four years in a coma. He awakes in a body once strong and lean, now broken. The world has changed. Frightened, in pain and heartbroken, he begins the process of recovery.
After touching staff members at the hospital, he learns of his gift of sight into the past and future. As word gets out, he is embraced as a hero while being cast as a fraud by others. All he wants is to live in peace. He does not care to be famous nor does he want to make money off of human sorrows. He is a humble, funny guy who loves to teach. However, life is more complicated and Johnny realizes fulfilling his calling means sacrificing his own future.
One day, after shaking the hand of an ambitious political wolf, his life course sets and he journeys to save the world from the horrors shown to him that afternoon.
Sad, endearing and emotional, this novel tells of human goodness and sacrifice a young man makes to ensure the continuity of life.