The Dead Zone

Narrated by: James Franco
Length: 16 hrs and 12 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (7,718 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Never before on audio! A number-one national best seller about a man who wakes up from a five-year coma able to see people's futures and the terrible fate awaiting mankind in The Dead Zone - a "compulsive page-turner" (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

Johnny Smith awakens from a five-year coma after his car accident and discovers that he can see people's futures and pasts when he touches them. Many consider his talent a gift; Johnny feels cursed. His fiancée married another man during his coma, and people clamor for him to solve their problems.

When Johnny has a disturbing vision after he shakes the hand of an ambitious and amoral politician, he must decide if he should take drastic action to change the future. The Dead Zone is a "faultlessly paced...continuously engrossing" (Los Angeles Times) novel of second sight.

©1979 Stephen King (P)2016 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

"Originally published in 1979, this title is finally available for the first time as an audiobook, with actor James Franco narrating... Franco's impressive acting talent is on full display. As the troubled Johnny, he narrates with restraint and melancholy. As Stillson - an amoral businessman who cons his way towards the presidency - Franco oozes menace." ( AudioFile)

Featured Article: Stephen King’s 20 Best Audiobooks—The Definitive List


Stephen King is one of the most prolific American authors of all time. He has published 61 novels, more than 200 short stories, and six nonfiction books—and he shows no sign of stopping. His most recent novel, The Institute, was published in September of 2019, and we’ve already pre-ordered his novella anthology If It Bleeds, which is set to be released in 2020. With such a large portfolio, choosing one listen to start with can be daunting.

What listeners say about The Dead Zone

Average Customer Ratings
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Another Great Listen!

Through the years I have read everything by Stephen King and now I am re-reading everything, but audibly. The Dead Zone was almost totally forgotten (since I'd read it so long ago) until I listened to it. Couldn't stop listening! King has the ability to make the characters into my dear friends, or just people I know. Incredible ability.

My favorite audible book EVER has always been Frank Muller's reading of The Green Mile, but the Dead Zone is right up there at the top of the list and James Franco does a wonderful job of reading it. Thank you for keeping me enthralled and it's a pleasure to be re-reading all of Stephen King's books............on to Duma Key.

53 people found this helpful

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Great Read. 11/22/63 type of book.

Very reminiscent of King's "11/22/63", or vice versa. Well actually Stephen King had developed his book "11/22/63" over several decades, he just did not want to release it too "soon" after Kennedy's death, as he thought that it would be inappropriate. It is entirely possible that these two books, Dead Zone and 11/22/63 wete developed around the same time....in one book you have a character trying assassinate a politician and in the other the character is trying to prevent an assassination........Thought: Maybe Oswald also had the same curse as Johnny, and was had to assassinate Kennedy for the good of mankind?? It's possible.

9 people found this helpful

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With Great Power Comes Great Responsability

James Franco brings all the amazing characters created by Stephen King to life with talent and passion. The Dead Zone is another unputdownable thriller from the master of suspense.

Filled with lifelike characters, set in a vivid world and pushed by a very interesting plot, The Dead Zone was a rewarding narrative experience for me.

13 people found this helpful

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I was bored

What would have made The Dead Zone better?

As much as I love James Franco, I found his narration to be distracting. There didn't seem to be any intentionality in any of his narration. He moved randomly from a whisper to a forceful voice. His accents had some to be desired. He almost came across as bored himself. So, I think better narration could have served the story better.

I also found the story itself to be a little boring. I know it isn't one of King's gory horror novels, it's more a supernatural thriller - but I still was not compelled by any of the characters or what they go through.

The book jumps between Johnny Smith and Greg Stillson (with the majority of the book being about Johnny), but the Stillson pieces seem random until he and Johnny finally connect in the last third of the book. All the while, Johnny has already experienced things that could serve as the plot of two or three other separate books. When the reader finally understands how Stillson plays into Johnny's life...it still isn't straightforward and it caused confusion for me for the last part of the book. In fact, I actually rewound to the part of the book where Johnny has his Stillson vision to make sure I didn't miss something. When everything else with Johnny's visions are so straightforward, it seemed a cop out to have one that was so vague.

The book seems to drag on with little point in certain areas as we revisit Johnny and the mundanities of life. I think it could've been a tighter, learner novel and had more of an impact. I also think the book suffered as a result of Franco's narration.

Would you ever listen to anything by Stephen King again?

Of course. This is actually one of his first books I've read that I was disappointed. I also think it may have been that this is one of his books that I'm not too familiar with. All the others, I've read before or are very familiar with their film adaptations - this one was completely new to me. So, I went in not knowing to expect, and was surprised at how slow-moving it was.

Although, i will say, the story does offer some poignant commentary on the state of politics (especially in this current time), religious fanaticism, and destiny. It also reflects on human nature, especially since people want Johnny to use his psychic gift, but are immediately afraid of him after he grants their wish.

What didn’t you like about James Franco’s performance?

He was uneven. He seemed bored. He went through three different emotions in one sentence. He came across as angry at points where the character should've been solemn. He slipped in and out of accents for certain characters.

What character would you cut from The Dead Zone?

I recognize the importance of Sarah Brucknell in the beginning, but her constant return throughout the story as a sidenote was distracting. I also felt the way Stillson was handled made no sense for the reader until the last third. Before that, he just seemed like a tangent with zero connection to the story.

21 people found this helpful

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Great book!

I can't decide if Steven King loves or hates Maine.

This book is one I wish I'd read in a group so I could discuss it with people between chapters.

James Franco wasn't very good at character voices in my opinion, but his normal narration voice was alright. I found it hysterical he used the same accent for a Polish person and a Vietnamese native speaker, and would sometimes slide into the accent randomly here or there for a few syllables.

I would recommend this to anyone who can handle a little darkness in their stories.

7 people found this helpful

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Chilling

I read this years ago, and couldn't resist the release of the audiobook. Though he became famous for his early horror tales like Carrie, this one is more similar to Mr. King's later works, where that feeling is more implied or psychological.

Playing around with the semi ethical question, "if you could go back in time and kill Hitler, would you?" Mr. King weaves a tale of a good man searching for his own life, in spite of extraordinary gifts. Although originally published in 1979, the feeling of unease is multiplied as memories from last year's election season come to mind, as though foretold.

16 people found this helpful

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Franco NAILED it.

This is one of my favorite King stories. James Franco just made it one of my favorite King audiobooks to boot. Great performance!!

12 people found this helpful

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Oh well, everything can't be a classic.

Struggled to finish. Reader was lifeless.
So many better choices for your time.
The title makes no sense.

2 people found this helpful

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James Franco is a TERRIBLE narrator!

I just listened to Steven Weber read IT, a novel by Steven King. James Franco is flat, non-dynamic, really a disappointment. :(
Good thing the story is great.

17 people found this helpful

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Uggh

Struggled to even listen. Made me miss Guidall, Muller, Webber, etc...For me, Franco's monotonous reading reduced an otherwise gripping novel to work

11 people found this helpful