“The Dead Zone”

Zainab Talha, Scoop Editor

Source: Simon and Schuster

As the year swiftly plunges into the month of October and Halloween decorations can be found around every corner, horror movies and books are of the many things which are encompassed in this haunted atmosphere. “The Dead Zone”, a book by renowned author Stephen King, fits perfectly into the spirit of this time of year. It is a thriller-horror fiction, narrating the story of a man’s newfound powers over the course of several years, digging deeper and deeper into the aftermath of his discovery and its effects.

The book centers around the life of Johnny Smith, who lives in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine, where some of King’s later novels also take place. The novel begins with Johnny happily living his life as a young teacher when a tragic accident causes him to spend five years of his life in a coma. During this time, Johnny loses everything and wakes up feeling helpless with nothing else to live for. He has lost his girlfriend, his mother has gone insane, and his father is in debt from all of Johnny’s hospital bills. Soon after, he discovers that he can find people’s darkest secrets just by touching them, often also predicting the future. Johnny’s discovery causes him to gain unwanted attention from the media and people all around the U.S. As Johnny grapples with his newly discovered ability, he must decide what he is to do, especially when he senses a looming evil threatening the lives of many.

Having previously read an unimpressive novella by King and his son Joe Hill, I wasn’t sure how “The Dead Zone” would be. Contrary to my presumption, this book was a worthy read. King threads current events and time with Johnny’s personal life and emotions to create a compelling story. Readers will not only read about events of the book from Johnny’s point of view, rather they will be able to enjoy the full spectrum of experiences from each individual character inside the book. 

King instills fear and horror into the novel subtly, constructing it through long periods of time and events. The novel is more realistic because of this, giving readers a palpable sense of the action. 

Although King had written successful novels before, “The Dead Zone” marked a clear point in his popularity. Both a film and series adaptation were made due to the book’s success.

Overall, “The Dead Zone” was ingeniously written, combining thriller and horror in one incredible paragon.