the dead zone

The Dead Zone was written by Stephen King and published in 1979, a mere five years after the successful Carrie was published.   This particular book is not a horror book or even a bloody book in comparison to many of his other novels.  However, The Dead Zone reveals an agonizing knowledge that one person possesses concerning future events and their potential outcomes, which will be directly affected by his decisions.  Johnny Smith, the main character awakens from a five year coma to discover he has a “gift” as his mother calls it.  But in Johnny's own mind, it is a "curse." He has the ability to touch someone with his hands and enter a trance-like state which visually reveals the person’s past or future.  As Johnny wrestles with this power he ends up shaking the hand of a politician who is repulsively evil.  As a result, he asks his friends a very compelling question, one the readers themselves would even ponder – “If you could go back in a time machine to 1932, would you kill Hitler?”

The Dead Zone has been on the hit list of many banning groups.  According to the American Library Association, this book placed number 82 on the 1990-2000 list of 100 Most Banned Books.  The ALA does not have a full acounting of reporting prior to this time.  The book did not appear on the subsequent ten year list; however, in no way did it mean it was not controversial.  It is surmised that the material published so far in the 21st Century is much more controversial than the material published in the latter part of the 20th Century.  Therefore, books such as The Dead Zone and other Stephen King novels have dimished in their offensiveness to the book banners.  There is also the idea that society as a whole is becoming desensitized to the issues that placed this book on the list originally.  There is no sex in this book, there is minimal offensive language (in relation to current television and movie models) and there are no gory details.  The fact that this book was even challenged leads one to believe that those who targeted this book had never read it.  Possibly, what offensive language there is in the book was brought to their attention by exaggerated heresay.  And on that basis alone, they struck out to challenge, and in some cases succeeded in having the book banned.

Rather than give away any spoilers for this book or the movie, go to the local library or book store and read the book yourself.  After that, rent the movie, sit back and enjoy one of the better film adaptations to an excellent read of Stephen King.  Christopher Walken gives an outstanding performance as the tortured Johnny Smith.  Even with a few small twists in the movie not found in the book, it will be well worth your time.

"ALA | Frequently Challenged Books." ALA | Home - American Library
. 2011. Web. 30 Apr. 2011.

The Dead Zone. Dir. David Cronenberg. Paramount Pictures [distributor, 2007. DVD.

King, Stephen. The Dead Zone. New York: Viking, 1979. Print.