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.