Monday, January 13, 2014
Bookshelf: Stephen King's The Dead Zone
Summary: Johnny Smith is a man who seems to have great luck. Since an accident as a child he has had hunches that sometimes lead to getting the right feeling so he can lots of money. After a car accident though, Johnny is left in coma. His coma will span enough time for his fiancee to meet another man and his career as a teacher to stall. When he wakes up though he finds himself with the ability to tell when a man is bad, and to see in the future. Either he can follow what maybe the chance to save a lot of lost lives from the evil of one human being, or he can deny it and try to live a normal life.
Characters: Johnny Smith is the lead character, the mysterious guy who has the psychic abilities. I really love how King has written him. He's a guy we follow throughout the entire book yet near the end King changes up narration patterns a bit, and lets others account for how Smith came across to them after they met him. It makes for an intriguing look in getting insights about a character you think you know from those who encountered him in the book. There are a couple of bad guys in this one, one I can't reveal just in case someone reads it, but the other, Greg Stillson, is one you follow from the beginning of the novel. Stillson is captured in just the way King wants him to be, and we get all the feelings that Johnny does from him despite the varying other views there are of Stillson. There are also other characters that appear throughout that while seem minor resonate after reading. Sarah is the woman that Johnny was with, and Herb is Johnny's father. These character only have minor parts, but the emotion and relation they have to Johnny are well written.
Writing: I also enjoyed the setting of this novel as well. The fair that the novel starts out at after the prologue is a great way to catch attention, and for some reason the idea of an old fashioned fair is always fun to read. With King's writing he has the ability to put you anywhere though, and create the scene, even if it's as something as bland as a hospital. Another thing that I've always liked about King's writing is his ability to create dialogue. It's lively and it captures the dialect well of the people talking. Whether they are Northern or Southern or whatever, you can hear their accents in your head.
Plot: The plot may seem a bit jilted at times. At one point I thought another guy had become the focus of being the main bad guy of the book, but there are actually two, and the plots don't intertwine. I was looking for something to tie back the rest of the book, and nothing did outside the point that Johnny can tell just tell when someone is bad. I guess though that was what to lead into Johnny's confidence later in the book that would give him the power to do what he does. I also thought the perception of religion that King put into the book was interesting, because Vera seems like an insane religious fanatic you wouldn't like, but the way that Herb and Johnny love her is just so interesting, and so much better written than how it was told in Carrie, which that book makes a mention in this one.
King has a fascination with writing about people with odd powers from all walks of life. Whether they are a bit cooler or a total unpopular kid he seems to like to put these people in circumstances they didn't ask for, but they have a choice of what they will do with the power. Most of us know how Carrie ends, but The Dead Zone tries to take a more intelligent, and human story that will sit with the reader way longer. It's more powerful and deserves way more attention than it has gotten.
Rating 9 of 10.