The Dead Zone by Stephen King (read by James Franco) Hodder & Stoughton The rise of the audio book has been accompanied by the rise of the celebrity narrator. Some pairings make sense: Meryl Streep reading Nora Ephron’s Heartburn (2013), for instance. Some appear to make sense only to disappoint: Matt Dillon reading Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (2006). Some, like James Franco reading The Dead Zone , simply intrigue. Low on hardcore horror, it nevertheless represents King at his best, transforming established ideas into something exciting. A youngish man exhibits clairvoyant powers when he touches people. Shaking the hand of a political candidate, he sees nuclear apocalypse. Should he turn assassin and save the world? Franco’s voice can be surprisingly harsh, like a buzz saw slicing through King’s prose. Added to a fast pace this lends the momentum and a fitting coldness.