Next up on my Stephen King quest is The Dead Zone, again it’s not a review as such but a collection of my thoughts on the book. So there may well be spoilers but I think pretty much everyone has read it a long time ago anyway, all except me.
After reading The Stand & Salem’s Lot in quick succession, you start to appreciate what a spellbinding storyteller The King can be and I can compare these to the other end of the spectrum, his newly released material, Mr Mercedes & Doctor Sleep. The outstanding feature in his new material is the depth he gives to his characters, a depth that was touched on but not prevalent at the start of his career. His new stuff wraps the art of storytelling neatly into a bundle, with gripping characterization and plots that leave you hanging on for more.
The Dead Zone sort of explores Stephen King’s development as a skilled author, in this book he shows that his characters are becoming more deeply fleshed out than previous works but in my opinion he loses his way with the story a little, concentrating more on one aspect of the story and dropping the ball in others.
I did enjoy the story of Jonny Smith, he is a character that is easy to invest everything in but my problem lay with the bad guys. They simply weren’t in the story enough to get any feel for, There was a chapter about the killer early on and then nothing more until he was identified, which was a little too easy, there should have been more airtime devoted to the killer to ramp up the tension, no reveal but more focus around his acts themselves.
Then we have Greg Stillson who for me just wasn’t a worthy bad guy for the end play, truthfully I couldn’t give a flying fuck what happened to him and Jonny’s mission to kill the guy seemed almost meaningless to me. I appreciate he saw him becoming President and heralding a nuclear war but I was more taken in by Jonny and his teaching successes with Chuck, the lightning strike and his relationship with Sarah than I was with how the book ended.
I know this book is well thought of by most, even a favourite but for me it was a case of the writer honing his considerable talents for future forays, primarily a character driven story that sacrificed plot devices that when I think back could have been made a classic so easily by simply veering slightly off the path he set for himself.
Anyway that’s just my opinion and I guess most wouldn’t wholeheartedly agree with it but it’s my Stephen King trip and that’s how I see it.
So that’s 16 completed from my target of 66 books and a nice round 50 to go, a fair undertaking I think you’ll agree.