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The Dead Zone (Signet) Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 1980

4.4 out of 5 stars 463 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

Review

"Stephen King has done it again. A spellbinder, a compulsive page-turner."
-Atlanta Journal

"Enthralling...superb."
-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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Product Details

  • Series: Signet
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; Reissue edition (August 1, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451155750
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451155757
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (463 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Dead Zone is one of Stephen King's best novels, a tale rich in every way. It's well-told, with excellent characters, loaded with symbolism and shocking events (oftentimes both), and full of the plainspoken yet lyrical prose that is King at his best. There is little in King's long and excellent list of titles that can surpass this novel.
We'll start with the basic story. A young teacher named Johnny Smith is "gifted," through a car accident that leaves him comatose for nearly five years, with a strange precognitive/telepathic ability. And here's the catch, evidence of King's genius if ever I've seen it: He has to be touching a person or object for the power to work. King takes this startlingly simple (and original) idea, and weaves it into the most complex, and intriguing, tapestry of his career.
King does a lot -- and I mean a LOT -- with this novel. Take the prologue, which so expertly sets mood, and tone, and character -- Johnny shows early flashes of his power, while the villain of the piece, Greg Stillson, kicks a dog to death in a dooryard outside Ames, Iowa. King literally takes you from one extreme to the other here, does so brilliantly, and continues to do so for the rest of the novel, as Johnny and Stillson are set on their inexorable collision course. But the novel is much more than that, as well. It's the story of Johnny and Sarah, who might've been his wife if not for intervening circumstances; it's the story of Johnny and his parents, Herb and Vera, a loving couple who find separate ways of dealing with Johnny's misfortune; it is the story of Johnny and the Chatsworths, a rich New England family whose son Johnny tutors ... and it is the story of Johnny and one Frank Dodd, a character as frightening as any King has created.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Johnny Smith is a seemingly normal guy -- who becomes psychic! He's an English teacher in a small Maine town called Castlerock, and he's one of those guys that more straight-laced teachers tend to dislike as a fellow teacher, but the kind'a guy that the kids really love. He's funny, sincere, sensitive, intelligent -- something of a goof -- but an all-around really great guy. "The Dead Zone" is a very readable melodrama of his descent into a world where he can see people's future just by touching them. If he touches you and sees that you are gonna die in four days!....he can tell you not to go into work -- because he knows a gunman is gonna open fire on you and your fellow employees!

That is his dilemma. And the engaging depth to The Dead Zone is that it becomes a moral dilemma of severe proportions. Because when Johnny touches a state politician and sees that this buffoon of a politician will get elected president and will cause a massive war -- the question becomes: is it better to kill this one person and save the lives of millions, or to let nature take its course and let millions and millions of people die. And of course no one would understand Johnny if he explained that he saw the future and saw that this politician was gonna cause a nuclear holocaust. King builds to this crescendo of a moral nightmare by constantly showing Johhny being torn between living up to his gift and being viewed as a tabloid psychic, a total hokester, and a creapy guy whom people don't even wanna get near. It's the story about living with an abnormal mental gift.
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By A Customer on February 17, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've read most of what Stephen King has read, including the outstanding novel "The Stand" and the amazingly suspenseful and strangely poignant "The Long Walk," which remains the only novel to genuinely scare me. However, no story by King has been as compelling, as emotional, and as well-written as his 1979 gem, "The Dead Zone."
The protagonist is as simple as the name he is given--Johnny Smith--and early in the novel the reader discovers that he has the ability to see into the future somewhat. A bit later on, Johnny gets in a severe car accident and stays in a coma for four and a half years. When he awakens, the world has changed completely. Vietnam is no longer the central issue of America, Richard Nixon has been impeached, and a young hotshot named Greg Stillson is attempting to run for the Presidency in 1980, the latter incident being a major subplot which will culminate in a shocking conclusion.
Also giving the novel its depthness is the love story regarding Johnny and his sweetheart prior to the accident, but who is married upon his awakening--the woman he loved more than anyone, a woman named Sarah Bracknell.
There is also an intriguing subplot dealing with a serial killer as well as one regarding the trials and tribulations of an academically struggling football player in high school.
All in all, this novel is gripping from start to finish, and its effect resonates long after it has been read. There is a big moral issue to contemplate throughout the novel--how should Johnny Smith use his powers? Johnny himself posed the question: "If you could go back in time and had the chance to kill Hitler, would you do it?"
This is my favorite Stephen King novel, and I anticipate reading it again sometime and knowing I'll have to wipe the beginnings of tears from the corner of my eye--the ending is very powerful, you see...
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