AKA The Book that Inspired the Movie that Inspired the SNL Skit “Ed Glosser: Trivial Psychic.”
Johnny Smith is a young teacher in a nascent relationship when his taxicab is struck head on by a drag-racing teen. He spends the next 55 months in a coma while his hospital bills reach insurmountable heights, his mother falls into a religious mania, and his girlfriend moves on with another man. When he finally wakes up and catches up on Watergate and the rest of the history he has missed, he also discovers the ability to see the future. Not always, but sometimes when he shakes hands or otherwise makes contact, he gets a flash of the other person’s life.
King unfolds his plot at a leisurely pace, using an episodic structure wherein Smith moves on from one major vision to the next. Along the way too other storylines are also being developed, as a deeply disturbed man strangles women in Castle Rock, Maine and a sociopathic man rises to local prominence and then elected office in New Hampshire. Eventually their stories will collide violently with Johnny’s life.
The Dead Zone is a good yarn and a lot of fun, but it’s ending is perhaps a little too neat. Somehow it seems to diminish everything that comes before. The Dead Zone is a fun read but seems a bit lacking as literature.