August 26, 2009

The Dead Zone

Title : The Dead Zone
Author : Stephen King
Reading Dates : 25 Aug - 28 Aug 2009

Summary of The Dead Zone.
The protagonist 6-year old John Smith gets a bad knock on his head when he goes skating in 1953 while antagonist 22-year old traveling salesman Greg Stillson tortures and kills a farmer's dog in 1955.

Part 1
In October 1970, Johnny ends up in a coma due to a car accident. He awakens more than 4 years later in May 1975. Not long after his awakening Johnny realizes that he now possesses some other power, one which enables him to sometimes see someone's past, present or future with a touch. The only limitation is his difficulty with streets, addresses and numbers which he calls his Dead Zone. When the rumors start to spread after Johnny warns his physical therapist of a fire at her house, Johnny finds himself at the center of unwanted attention. The situation worsens when he helps Sheriff George Bannerman to solve the Castle Rock Strangler murders. Johnny chooses to leave his hometown in hopes of regaining normality in his life.

Greg Stillson who is now Mayor of Ridgeway aims to be named a congressman for New Hampshire. And has no compunction in using whatever means necessary including blackmail and threats.

Part 2
In 1976 while Johnny tutors 17-year old Chuck of the Chatsworth family, he meets Greg Stillson. Drawn to the man since first seeing him campaigning to be elected as a congressman on television, Johnny is horrified when his strange talent shows him that Greg Stillson will become the president of America sometime in the future and precipitate a nuclear war. While still deliberating on what is to be done about Stillson, 2 events of important to Johnny occurs. The first is another one of his glimpses of the future. At Chuck's graduation in June 1977, Johnny forsees and warns Chuck not to attend the high school graduation party the students have arranged at Cathy's. Though disbelieving, Chuck and some of his friends heeds Johnny's words and are saved. The second is Johnny's realization that he is dying from a brain tumor and has very little time if he is to stop Stillson. Finally in January of 1979, Johnny chooses to act and assassinate Congressman Greg Stillson before he can go on to wreck the havoc Johnny saw in his vision. Johnny fails to kill Stillson but in his dying moments finds that he has somehow changed the future.

Part 3
Greg Stillson's career is over as he used an innocent child as a shield while trying to escape from Johnny and this act was captured on camera by an amateur photographer.

Review of The Dead Zone.
Reading this book always makes me sad. From the time that Johnny awakens from his coma and demonstrates his new gift, there is a sense of impending doom to the story. What Johnny does, he does not for gain but to help. All he wants is a normal life but again and again he is treated as a freak and a monster to be avoided even by those he helps. His final act probably sealed him as a mentally deranged or dangerous man in the eyes of the people he was trying to save. How is that for justice ?

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