Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Dead Zone

I just finished The Dead Zone and Hollywood Crows.  I don't have so much more to say about the latter; you could see the ending coming from a mile away, and, as I said before, the point isn't really in the plot anyway.

The Dead Zone is more interesting.  In some ways it's the most downbeat King book I've read.  Johnny Smith faces a horrendous moral choice at the end of the book, and the tension is palpable.  But King also has a fundamental optimism that most people will eventually do the right thing.  When Stillson is finally exposed, all the voters turn against him.  In today's political climate, that really seems like a simplistic ending; I can just imagine Stillson going on the talk-show circuit and resuscitating his career.

It's also a very religious book.  King pretty explicitly links Johnny to Jonah, who flees the word of God.  Fate seems to play a role in a few of King's books, but here we see it almost bare.  Johnny has been carrying around a time bomb in his head since he was nine, and what's kept him alive is fate/God's role for him to play in the last section of the novel.  I think it's hard to give Fate/God such a large role and maintain a sense of conflict (if all is pre-ordained, why bother struggling?), and yet this novel is very powerful for all that.

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