I've read most of what Stephen King has read, including the outstanding novel "The Stand" and the amazingly suspenseful and strangely poignant "The Long Walk," which remains the only novel to genuinely scare me. However, no story by King has been as compelling, as emotional, and as well-written as his 1979 gem, "The Dead Zone."
The protagonist is as simple as the name he is given--Johnny Smith--and early in the novel the reader discovers that he has the ability to see into the future somewhat. A bit later on, Johnny gets in a severe car accident and stays in a coma for four and a half years. When he awakens, the world has changed completely. Vietnam is no longer the central issue of America, Richard Nixon has been impeached, and a young hotshot named Greg Stillson is attempting to run for the Presidency in 1980, the latter incident being a major subplot which will culminate in a shocking conclusion.
Also giving the novel its depthness is the love story regarding Johnny and his sweetheart prior to the accident, but who is married upon his awakening--the woman he loved more than anyone, a woman named Sarah Bracknell.
There is also an intriguing subplot dealing with a serial killer as well as one regarding the trials and tribulations of an academically struggling football player in high school.
All in all, this novel is gripping from start to finish, and its effect resonates long after it has been read. There is a big moral issue to contemplate throughout the novel--how should Johnny Smith use his powers? Johnny himself posed the question: "If you could go back in time and had the chance to kill Hitler, would you do it?"
This is my favorite Stephen King novel, and I anticipate reading it again sometime and knowing I'll have to wipe the beginnings of tears from the corner of my eye--the ending is very powerful, you see...