April 5th, 2012


Book Review: Cell, by Stephen King

Cell phone rage turns apocalyptic.


Scribner, 2006, 368 pages

On October 1st, God is in His heaven, the stock market stands at 10,140, most of the planes are on time, and Clayton Riddell, an artist from Maine, is almost bouncing up Boylston Street in Boston. He's just landed a comic book deal that might finally enable him to support his family by making art instead of teaching it. He's already picked up a gift for his long-suffering wife, and he knows just what he'll get for his boy Johnny. Why not a little treat for himself? Clay's feeling good about the future.

That changes in a hurry. The cause of the devastation is a phenomenon that will come to be known as The Pulse, and the delivery method is a cell phone. Everyone's cell phone. Clay and the few desperate survivors who join him suddenly find themselves in the pitch-black night of civilization's darkest age, surrounded by chaos, carnage, and a human horde that has been reduced to its basest nature...and then begins to evolve.

There are one hundred and ninety-three million cell phones in the United States alone. Who doesn't have one? Stephen King's utterly gripping, gory, and fascinating novel doesn't just ask the question "Can you hear me now?" It answers it with a vengeance.

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Verdict: A good zombie novel by one of my favorite writers, though it's far from his best and he pretty much stole most of the plot from himself. Cell reads a bit like one of King's earlier books, when he mostly wrote straight-up horror novels, so I recommend it if you are a fan of his earlier works. As a zombie novel, it's also an interesting new take on the genre, though like a lot of King fiction, you have to kind of roll your eyes and forget everything you know about how stuff actually works. Reality always takes a back seat to plot in Kingland.

Also by Stephen King: My reviews of Blaze, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and Lisey's Story.