THE DEAD ZONE

The Stand did less well than The Shining, and The Dead Zone will do less well than either—as the King of high horror (Carrie) continues to move away from the grand-gothic strain that once distinguished him from the other purveyors of psychic melodrama. Here he's taken on a political-suspense plot formula that others have done far better, giving it just the merest trappings of deviltry. Johnnie Smith of Cleaves Mills, Maine, is a super-psychic; after a four-year coma, he has woken up to find that he can see the future—all of it except for certain areas he calls the "dead zone." So Johnnie can do great things, like saving a friend from death-by-lightning or reuniting his doctor with long-lost relatives. But Johnnie also can see a horrible presidential candidate on the horizon. He's Mayor Gregory Aromas Stillson of Ridgeway, N.H., and only Johnnie knows that this apparently klutzy candidate is really the devil incarnate—that if Stillson is elected he'll become the new Hitler and plunge the world into atomic horror! What can Johnnie do? All he can do is try to assassinate this Satanic candidate—in a climactic shootout that is recycled and lackluster and not helped by King's clumsy social commentary (". . . it was as American as The Wonderful Worm of Disney"). Johnnie is a faceless hero, and never has King's banal, pulpy writing been so noticeable in its once-through-the-typewriter blather and carelessness. Yes, the King byline will ensure a sizeable turnout, but the word will soon get around that the author of Carrie has this time churned out a ho-hum dud.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 1979

ISBN: 0451155750

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1979

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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