Friday, February 5, 2016

The Dead Zone review

The Dead Zone follows two separate figures - a crazy politician and a man who wakes from a four year coma with psychic powers - throughout multiple years (and election cycles), culminating in the Psychic trying to stop the Politician after he has a vision of him leading the U.S. and the world to ruin.

Now, this is a solid premise and aspects of this novel work incredibly well.  However, this story digresses so frequently that at this point I would rather call it more of an exercise in narrative meandering.

It's not a bad novel, just one that takes its time getting where it wants to go.  And because of this, the climax feels overly rushed, interspersed with a series of letters that overly explain main character Johnny Smith's thoughts and actions.

I just couldn't get into the main story when it had B, C, and D plots that were either more interesting or fully realized.  And that kills me, because part of the Politician aspects so greatly mirror the current election cycle that it could almost be seen as commentary on Cruz and/or Trump if it hadn't been written 37 years beforehand.

The good stuff is very good however.  Several scenes with Greg Stillson - the politician character - are downright chilling, and when Johnny goes into his various trances King sets a mood that almost takes the reader into the story, but then he stops for 20+ pages to diverge into material that has either already been covered or doesn't add anything to the main plot.

The whole book is so episodic in nature that when I saw that it was a television series, my first thought was "I bet it works better in that medium" instead of "They'll lose so much from the book doing that!"  Which, again, isn't a horrible thing, just frustrating in novel form.

I feel that if he had just focused on Johnny and his 'adventures' with his newfound power first, then switched to Stillson after they meet, he could have used the last part of the novel to tie them together.  Instead he jumps between the two while also periodically focusing on minor characters that provide more distraction than anything resembling depth.

Worth a read, but I doubt it will be reread anytime soon.

Pages:  402
Movie?:  A movie is 1983, and a TV series that ran from 2002-2007.
Dark Tower?:  Nothing in the novel proper connects it, but the events involving Frank Dodd are referenced in several others novels that are connected, so by proxy this one is.
Child Deaths?:  A 9-year-old girl is raped and strangled.
Penis Talk?:  Yes, the worst of which is an inner monologue from the rapist mentioned prior.
Grade:  B-

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