As readers, it’s only obvious that we would all have at least one favorite novel. Today I am going to be sharing with you my favorite!
I frequently refer to Stephen King in my posts, mostly because I see him as a literary genius! I deeply admire his twisted style of storytelling. Only he could materialize a psychic boy who visits a hotel that literally comes to life, or an author who is trapped within the hostile walls of an insanely obsessed fan.
Of course, it would only make sense that my favorite novel would be written by the author for whom I have the utmost respect. The novel that has caught my heart ever since I read the book jacket is none other than The Dead Zone. This is an underrated story of a man who suffers a tragic car accident and wakes up after a five-year coma only to realize that he has psychic abilities, and this is probably the novel that inspired me the most as a writer.
Johnny Smith was my first fictional love. Originally, he was a small boy who had an ice-skating accident, and was lucky to survive, but the accident was what had thrown him into the “Dead Zone”. We later view him as a history teacher who was desperately in love with his fellow teacher girlfriend Sarah Bracknell. King emerges us into an intense trance with Johnny as he later takes her on a date at a fair. Johnny is mentally trapped within this Wheel of Fortune gambling game. King very clearly explains that Johnny is unable to turn away from the game until Sarah has become sick from a bad hotdog.
Within this scene, I felt as though I myself was captivated by the spinning wheel along with Johnny. I personally must say that it takes a brilliant writer to make a reader feel hypnotized by an image created by words on paper!
Not only does Johnny wake up with a sixth sense after his coma, but he is also stricken by the fact that his beloved Sarah is now married with a little boy, Denny. Johnny is utterly crushed by this, and it absolutely does not help him while fighting through physical therapy. King vividly describes Johnny as devastated and longing for death.
Stephen King really tugged at my heartstrings as I felt nothing but pure sympathy for Johnny. To be completely honest, this is what made me fall in love with this imaginary person.
It was soon after this that he discovered his new power. Johnny’s first heroic act was during a physical therapy session when he grabs his therapist’s hand and he is emerged into his first episode, seeing that her house is on fire. After he recovers from the episode, he informs her, and she rushes home to find out that he was in fact correct.
Doctor Sam Weizak is my secondary favorite character in the novel. He and Johnny develop a bond throughout the story and become friends beyond their doctor-patient relationship. Doctor Weizak learns about Johnny’s new ability when Johnny has a flashback of WWII, and witnesses a young boy being transported by wagon to safety, leaving his mother behind.
After reading that scene, the lines “The wolf is loose” and “The boy is safe” echoed in my head in my sleep. It’s truly amazing how such simple lines can follow you throughout a whole novel. Even to this day, seeing the novel’s title triggers these ghostly whispers within my own mind.
I think the most emotionally investing subplot in King’s novel was the heart-breaking conflict of Johnny’s lingering passion for Sarah. I quickly found myself hating Sarah. Of course, I was likely biased by my own attachment to Johnny, but I despised how Sarah pulled and pushed Johnny away like a yo-yo. Not only did she give up on him and marry, but she leads him on, giving the false hope that they could reunite their love. She even makes love to him at his father’s home! Johnny discovers that it was all in vain when Sarah later tells him that it can never happen again. I don’t think I’ve ever cried over a novel so much!
Away from the cruel, tear-jerking romance, King cleverly weaves mystery into the story with the Castle Rock murder case, and he once again kicks our emotions into play.
A sheriff in despair approaches Johnny with a proposal to help him figure out who the killer is. Johnny is completely appalled. The whole world is using him for his clairvoyance. When he first refuses, to assist Sheriff Bannerman, the officer does not oppose, but he does remind Johnny of how God has “blessed” him. “Blessed me?” Johnny had retorted. He then spits out a series of ranting. God struck him with a car. God took away the love of his life. God gave him a gift that he absolutely does not want. “God’s been a real sport to me!” Johnny had said. This scene was probably the most relatable of the whole novel. We all know the feeling of failure and struggle. There’s always that one person who says, “Well, on the bright side…” Shut up, we all think. There is no bright side. I love the fact that King even gave Johnny those lines. He sort of brings us to our darkest moments within that scene, and we instantly click with him, and Johnny’s sarcasm and vividly-written emotions make him the realistic character he is.
The mystery of the story continues when Johnny finally decides to help the sheriff solve the murder case. After trying to use his sixth sense on an empty cigarette pack, a newly found body is reported under a gazebo, and of course, Johnny is able to solve the case by touching the young female corpse. King cleverly emerges Johnny into the moment of the murder. Johnny discovers that the killer is none other than Sheriff Bannerman’s deputy Frank Dodd. At this point, I almost threw the book, I was so surprised!
King introduces another subplot when a rich father hires Johnny to tutor his reclusive son, Chris. Within pages, a teacher-student friendship is bloomed. Not to mention that Johnny saves Chris from a fatal hockey accident when Chris’s father practically demands Chris to play on the team the day before the accident. Johnny has a premonition of the ice breaking and the team members drowning. Before we discover that Chris in fact did not attend the hockey game, Johnny reads a newspaper cover of children drowning during the said game, and he calls Chris’s home. I remember feeling as scared as Johnny was until I felt his mutual relief when Chris answers the phone.
Johnny Smith becomes the ultimate hero when he puts an end to a corrupt politician’s evil plot. Johnny discovers that Greg Stillson is indeed a sociopath when he shakes his hand at a rally and has a vision of his plot to release a lethal missile after threatening the life of the general for his reluctance to follow his orders. King also describes how brutal Stillson is when he kicks a dog to death!
Once Johnny discovers what kind of an evil person Greg Stillson truly is, he consults Sam Weizak. Johnny asked Sam if he could go back in time and kill Hitler, would he do it? Weizak responds that he would “kill the son of a bitch”. Therefore, Johnny plans his next move to assassinate Stillson the next day in the auditorium where he would be holding a town hall meeting. Personally, I believe that Greg Stillson’s most cruel act was after Johnny shot the first bullet, and he shielded himself with Sarah’s infant son. A young boy with a camera managed to capture a snapshot of the incident, but Johnny fell to his death from the balcony after being shot himself and crashing into a bench.
Although King’s beloved character does not survive to the end of the novel, Johnny does in fact save the world when Stillson’s chances at being elected are destroyed by the photograph that had soon made a magazine cover. We are positive that Stillson can do no more harm when he shoots himself in the end.
I think the ending was the most sorrowful scene of the entire book. Sarah is at Johnny’s grave, telling him goodbye for the last time through her tears. I remember my own tears falling onto the pages as I read the last line.
As you can see, this story is entirely brilliant! Not only does King take us on an wild, supernatural rollercoaster filled with mystery, murder, corruption, romance, and death, but he ingeniously engages our emotions with every turn of the page. In my personal opinion, the emotion in the story is what brings it to life and makes it all the more enjoyable!
That’s all for my favorite novel by probably the most talented author alive. What’s your favorite novel? Feel free to tell in the comments!