The Dead Zone | GoodReads

the-dead-zone-9781501144509_hr.jpg

2.5 ⭐️'s. Not bad, not great, but still entertaining.

“Tears streamed down her face, sliding over the smooth hard surface of the nightpack like rain on chrome.” (Blade Runner, anyone?)

The Dead Zone

This audiobook is excellent, and I would definitely recommend it to someone who is a fan of James Franco (he reads it with such verve! much accent!) and who also enjoyed the John Travolta movie "Phenomenon."

However, it is my least favorite Stephen King book to date. It's not bad, per se, but not especially gripping either. It's entertaining, and stuff happens, but not much in the way of integral plot. The end reminded me of the last 1/3-ish of 11/22/63 — which happens to be one of my all time favorite Stephen King books to date, even though the ending is a tad weak / deus ex machina-y. 

Yes, there are some parallels to be drawn with the current president. (See article.)

Other than a slightly chilling prediction of future leaders, this book isn't particularly scary either. It's listed as a "science-fiction thriller," but mild suspense might be a better fit.

“The world was going gray. Ann was still talking but her voice was far and wee, as E.E. Cummings had said about the balloon man. Flocked images tumbling over and over one another, none making sense. The carny wheel. The mirror maze. Johnny’s eyes, strangely violet, almost black. His dear, homely face in the harsh, county fair lighting, naked bulbs strung on electric wire.”

Johnny Smith, the main character, is a pretty vanilla character who happens to have a touch of psychic abilities. 

“In no time at all, the quick sand was up to his waist and now it was chest high, sucking at him like great brown lips, constricting his breathing; he began to scream and no one came, nothing came except for a fat brown squirrel that picked its way down the side of the mossy deadfall and perched on his pack and watched him with his bright black eyes. 

Now it was up to his neck, the rich brown smell of it in his nose and his screams became thin and gasping as the quicksand implacably pressed the breath out of him. Birds flew swooping and cheeping and scolding, and green shafts of sunlight like tarnished copper fell through the trees, and the quicksand rose over his chin. Alone, he was going to die alone, and he opened his mouth to scream one last time and there was no scream because the quicksand flowed into his mouth, it flowed over his tongue, it flowed between his teeth in thin ribbons, he was swallowing quicksand, and the scream was never uttered—”


Growing up, I was disproportionately afraid of dying in quicksand compared with how much quicksand I’ve actually seen in person. Still, this psychic flash from a man’s death in quicksand was strangely satisfying and reminded me of a couple Shel Silverstein poems.

“Green summer leaves, smoky haze of fall like a memory of cornhusks and men with rakes in mellow dusk. The thud of the big snare drum. Mellow gold trumpets and trombones. School band uniforms …”

There’s no denying that King can paint a pretty picture and really “take you there” with his prose. James Franco completely brings this book to life with his narration — worth it just for the audio chocolate.