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Cell: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – November 21, 2006
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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
From Publishers Weekly
What if a pulse sent out through cell phones turned every person using one of them into a zombie-like killing machine? That's what happens on page six of King's latest, a glib, technophobic but compelling look at the end of civilization—or at what may turn into a new, extreme, telepathically enforced fascism. Those who are not on a call at the time of the pulse (and who don't reach for their phones to find out what is going on) remain "normies." One such is Clayton Riddell, an illustrator from Kent Pond, Maine, who has just sold some work in Boston when the pulse hits. Clay's single-minded attempt to get back to Maine, where his estranged wife, Sharon, and young son, Johnny-Gee, may or may not have been turned into "phoners" (as those who have had their brains wiped by the pulse come to be called) comprises the rest of the plot. King's imagining of what is more or less post-Armageddon Boston is rich, and the sociological asides made by his characters along the way—Clay travels at first with two other refugees—are jaunty and witty. The novel's three long set pieces are all pretty gory, but not gratuitously so, and the book holds together in signature King style. Fans will be satisfied and will look forward to the next King release, Lisey's Story, slated for October. (Jan. 24)
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Top Customer Reviews
In comparison with the general fiction market, Cell is quite a competent thriller. There are some quite vivid and haunting scenes, particularly the carnage in the immediate aftermath of the Pulse and the unnatural behaviour of the phoners as the effects of the Pulse develop. But when compared to other Stephen King novels it does not really measure up.
King has already done the post-apocalyptic novel, and it is hard to see how you could top 'The Stand' as a creepy character-based thriller in such a setting. Cell really demanded such treatment to make it work, with extended backstories and layers of detail to show us how they world has changed. I kept expecting that we were being set up for a satire on modern telecommunications and its effect on our culture. How much more blatant could you be than turning cellphone users into violent, gibbering idiots? But instead King veered towards the style of 'The Road', a minimalist work where it is more important to create atmosphere than to tell a strong story. The cellphone ends up just being a zombie-making device. This makes Cell unsatisfying in the end, because the characters are not fleshed out enough to make us care, and there is not enough narrative impetus or resolution to make us enjoy getting to the end. While The Stand probably suffered from a little too much explanation towards the end that destroyed the mystery, in Cell we have no proper explanation at all of the Pulse and its purpose. I'm not even sure that the human brain works in such a way as to make what happens even remotely plausible.
Cell is better than most thrillers out on the shelves, but not among the best of Stephen King's novels by any means.
Updated Review: July 1, 2016.
I love Stephen King and have been a fan of his work for as long as I can remember. When it comes to this book, "Cell" I can't help but read it over and over again. When my husband bought me a Kindle Fire HDX for Christmas I was thrilled. Too bad you can't get ebook versions of all the books you already own, but since you can't, this was definitely one of the books in my collection that I had to buy again for my Kindle. Absolutely Love this book!
King's storyline gives us an alternate version of a zombie apocalypse. Those who were unfortunately using their cellphones, directly or indirectly, turned into zombie-like creatures who are driven by hunger and anger, begin to maim and kill, ripping apart anyone they see. Everyone who was "Not" using their cell phone, attending a meeting by speaker phone, or even as tweens tend to do (listening without the speakerphone feature, with heads together) at the time of the Pulse are spared, from the pulse that is.
Our main character, waiting in line at the ice cream truck stares in shock as those around him, basically turn bat-sheet crazy, attacking and killing, even eating one another, well, ripping their throats out with their teeth anyway, not really eating like the typical Zombie fare.
With the vivid imagination of Stephen King, so many events were clear to my mind's eye. I'm sure that instead of a bus being driven intentionally into the lobby of a hotel, the movie version (starting at the airport instead of the park) will have airplanes intentionally crash landing instead.
Our main, secondary and other characters hide from the phone-crazies as the city burns. And that's just the start of the book. As things begin to settle, the phone crazies evolve into a flock-like collective, who like birds begin to exhibit a type of telepathic communication. That's when things get Really interesting.
I can't wait to see the differences between the book and movie, especially now that it's finally arrived.
No noticeable typos, errors in sentence structure, well developed characters, well thought out storyline. I love this book so much I currently own Paperback, Kindle, hopefully soon in Blu-ray format as well. Highly Recommended.