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Cell: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – November 21, 2006

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Editorial Reviews Review

Witness Stephen King's triumphant, blood-spattered return to the genre that made him famous. Cell, the king of horror's homage to zombie films (the book is dedicated in part to George A. Romero) is his goriest, most horrific novel in years, not to mention the most intensely paced. Casting aside his love of elaborate character and town histories and penchant for delayed gratification, King yanks readers off their feet within the first few pages; dragging them into the fray and offering no chance catch their breath until the very last page.

In Cell King taps into readers fears of technological warfare and terrorism. Mobile phones deliver the apocalypse to millions of unsuspecting humans by wiping their brains of any humanity, leaving only aggressive and destructive impulses behind. Those without cell phones, like illustrator Clayton Riddell and his small band of "normies," must fight for survival, and their journey to find Clayton's estranged wife and young son rockets the book toward resolution.

Fans that have followed King from the beginning will recognize and appreciate Cell as a departure--King's writing has not been so pure of heart and free of hang-ups in years (wrapping up his phenomenal Dark Tower series and receiving a medal from the National Book Foundation doesn't hurt either). "Retirement" clearly suits King, and lucky for us, having nothing left to prove frees him up to write frenzied, juiced-up horror-thrillers like Cell. --Daphne Durham --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. It's probably a good idea not to use your cell phone while you listen to Scott's beautifully understated reading of terrormeister King's latest take on technology run amok: you might just toss it down the nearest storm drain. The excellent film actor (who catches the power of his late father George C. Scott's voice but smooths off the rough edges) adds an important element—quiet believability—to King's bloody, occasionally over-the-top story of a short but lethal electronic signal that seriously damages everyone in the world using a cell phone at that moment. The Pulse, as it comes to be known, turns idle chatterers into weirdly rewired killing machines. Scott makes the lead character—a comic book artist from Maine (where else?) named Clayton Riddell, who is in Boston with his phone off and in his pocket—a touching and surprisingly tough survivor, much like the nonpods in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. He also resists the temptation to make the "phoners" (those affected by the Pulse) sound unusually strange or dangerous—until their real motives become obvious. Simultaneous release with the Scribner hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 2). (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Star; First Printing edition (November 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416524517
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416524519
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,384 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Doctor Sleep and Under the Dome, now a major TV miniseries on CBS. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 56 people found the following review helpful By B. McEwan VINE VOICE on April 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This novel has a great underlying premise: The human brain is an organic computer that has a basic operating system, which is capable of being erased. In the case of this novel, the erasure is triggered by a "pulse" that is sent out to millions of people through their cell phones. Those who do not happen to be using their phones at the time of the Pulse are spared. Those who are using their phones turn into zombie-like creatures who maim and kill one another and appear to be driven only by hunger and anger.

The twist comes when the "normies" realize that the "phoners" (aka zombies) are sort of evolving over time. They appear to be developing more sophisticated traits that are, in some cases, superior to those of normal humans. For instance, they communicate via telepathy and move around by means of levitation.

I would have liked to see this evolution idea further developed, perhaps even all the way to the point where the once inferior zombies become the next step up in human evolution, with the "normies" ultimately ending up in the same relationship as the Neanderthals may have been to Homo Sapiens. But, alas, that never happens. In fact, nothing close to that happens because King leaves readers in the lurch by not bringing the novel to a satisfactory conclusion.

I know that King often leaves the ultimate endings up to the readers' imaginations, and I appreciate that technique. But in Cell he really should have taken us a bit farther down the road, at least so we knew whether or not the "old" human programming could be rescued from some area of deep memory so some phoners could be restored to their former condition.
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60 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Donald Gallinger on June 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The wonderful thing about King's new novel, Cell, is that he takes a relatively ordinary phenomenon of contemporary life and turns it into a shocking horror fest. This is King's great talent, and no one does it better. From the pet cemetary in the woods to the nice family doggie (who now has rabies), King populates his middle-class American landscape with familiar things that have now turned nightmarishly psychotic. In Cell, King jams an urban myth into the highest gear. What if cell phones didn't cause cancer? What if they did something much worse? What if they turned the user into a zombie killing machine? From the first page to the last, you're hooked. It doesn't matter if the reading calories are empty; you can't stop reading. That's why King, above everything else (and perhaps in spite of everything else) has remained the best selling author in the world. You can't stop reading him.

Donald Gallinger is the author of The Master Planets
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48 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Samer Ismail on January 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
And I, for one, am glad King is still writing--even if I was nervous about picking up my cell phone for a couple of days!

The editorial reviews tell you everything you need to know about the plot, so I won't repeat it here.

When I read this book I saw comparisons to two novels; one of those books is Dean Koontz's "The Taking." Although the plots are superficially the same--a trip through a nightmare world--the books are very different in style, in tone, and in the "whys" underlying them. [Depending on your point of view, by the way, you'll find King's explanation either inspired or exasperating.]

The comparisons to the zombies of George A. Romero's movies are fairly obvious, but the descriptions of human life after the Pulse, for Clay and his band of struggling "normies," and of non-human life, if you will, for the "phoners," reminded me of a more classic novel, Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend." [King has noted his admiration for Matheson in the past, and, in fact, "Cell" is dedicated to Romero and Matheson.] What scared me most about this novel, as with "Legend," was the fact that everything in the book felt like it really *could* happen here.

And that plausibility carries through to the ending. It's difficult to write an ending for a book like this one, but King managed to write one that makes sense without false optimism (as the book's prologue notes, most of America is dead by the time the book ends) *or* unnecessary pathos.

All in all, King fans will be thrilled by this book; as an added bonus, it also includes an excerpt from King's next novel, "Lisey's Story" (due out in October 2006), which I am now eagerly awaiting.
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224 of 282 people found the following review helpful By Kcorn TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If for no other reason, I thank Stephen King for taking those five words which haunt tv commercials:, "Can you hear me now?" and turning the phrase into something more than merely annoying..and into the realm of the truly ominous. While it might seem obvious to some of us that cell phones are horrible little devices, it still takes a pretty talented writer to write a book about evil spread by cell phones...and to keep readers riveted the entire time. I was one of those readers. Like King, I refuse to have a cell phone, an "electronic leash". No thanks.

But I'm really digressing here. Back to The Cell . If you think you don't like King's "supernatural" or "horror" style, I'd urge you to give The Cell a chance. I read it from cover to cover in one sitting.
I can't say it is the best book he's written but it was still a fine read and had many of the trademarks of King's superior writing - excellent characterization, an unpredictable plot and just enough plausability to make me think, "WHat if?" What if there WERE some way to use cell phones to affect people's brains, to create insanity in our population, with results leading to the brink of civilization's collapse?

It is to King's credit that he not only raises these questions but kept me wanting to find out what happened next, to see what happened to Clayton, a guy who happens to be away from home when all hell breaks out. By the time it does, I was already intrigued by this guy, someone who was trying to figure out a way to curry his estranged wife's favor, who had the usual worries and imperfections of the average man. He was no hero, just an ordinary guy, just trying to get by, thinking about his career and the next step in his day, the usual stuff..
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