Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Dead Zone

Title: The Dead Zone
Author: Stephen King
Published: 1979

I have an issue with a quote on the back of my paperback copy of this book. Apparently, someone from Cosmopolitan called this book "truly frightening... will scare you witless!"

Now, in a lot of Stephen King's stuff, I'll give that to him. I got scared reading The Stand. I was a little scared reading The Shining. 'Salem's Lot kind of got to me too. But The Dead Zone absolutely did not terrify me in the slightest.

This isn't to say that The Dead Zone wasn't a good book. I thought it was very good. It just wasn't scary to me. I just found it to be a dramatic tale about a guy who just happened to have the ability to see into people's lives by shaking their hands.

I'm sure some of the imagery was meant to be more frightening than I interpreted it. Maybe I'm desensitized to what some people consider frightening. I have seen a lot of scary movies. And I've seen the film version of this novel. I've started watching the TV show. I'm almost through the first season of it thanks to Netflix, but I'm not entirely convinced that I should keep watching beyond that.

The book itself was good. Not my favorite of King's work, but not his worst either. On the one hand, it seems like it'd be pretty cool to have the power to see into someone's future or past by touching them or touching an object with which they came in contact. At the same time, King clearly described Johnny Smith's turmoil of having this ability. By the end of the book, it's obvious that Johnny and those closest to him consider his ESP to be a curse.

His psychic ability didn't bring him fame and fortune. It only brought him pain and suffering. It wasn't something that Johnny ever asked for, but he got it. And he used it for good as best he knew how. It's easy to wish for an ability and think of all the good you could do with it, whether it be for others or yourself. But King reminds us that there can sometiems be a very negative aspect to how we use our talents.

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