“ Author: Stephen King / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 12 May 2011 / Genre: Horror / Subcategory: Horror & Ghost Stories General / Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division / Title: Cell / ISBN 13: 9781444707823 / ISBN 10: 1444707823 „
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Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Pocket Star
Duration: 488 pages
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At the same time when King's 'Cell' novel was released in 2006, I was in the firm grips of two mobile phone contracts, I craved for the newest model going, and engaged in WAP! I was a slave to the telecommunication revolution; my life wasn't my own. I recorded 24 second real-tones and uploaded them onto 'wap' mobi-servers; affiliated with Jamster. One of them was called 'The Pulse' which starts off slow and rapidly quickens as 24 seconds approached. I never thought it would feature as a Stephen King novel and film. Then I found out Mr. King had no cell-phone, nor wanted one. Coincidence - Nah, it was telepathy, an accident. Now-a-days I'm not ruled by the text alerts, apps, and the zombie ritual of; 'head-down, text and screen stroke in unison' - these observations stimulated the creative juices of King - in 'Cell;' notably, King's idea of hell.
'Boston is Riddell with zombies'
The reality is, that societal converse has changed over thirty years, and the gravitas of this occurrence is greater than the introduction of the Gutenberg project. Why it supersedes it, is duly on the immense availability of media anywhere, anytime, in gargantuan numbers. King has simply added a twist to proceedings - a cataclysmic one. Technophobes and Eco-warriors that rebel against mobile devices stroke capitalistic values through choice may get a kick out of the telecommunication slant of King's off-beat Gothic novel. As gruesome as it is, I hasten a guess King isn't being outlandish or profoundly surreal on the basis, phone receptors could play havoc with our mental state. King has escalated the premise via a psychotic tone directly from the cell phone, the phone-users morph into maniac zombies who feed off the flesh of non-phone-users. Gothic horror mists over the normality of urban city life - King paints a startling realism that envelopes Western culture (Who could forget that Crazy Frog ring tune?) and gender, from the struggles of what modernity means to the shattered euphoric dream as illustrated by the comic book graphic artist and protagonist Clayton Riddell, who'd just secured creative work only for it to be blighted by the 'pulse' while gaily mincing along Boylston Street, Boston alerted to a jingly ice cream van - be wary of banal friendly entities, King plays on the ultimate horror clique. Riddell's loving ploy was purely to re-build his relationship with his wife Sharon and son Jonny G. 'Clay' is written mainly in the third person, a likeable protagonist; who's in the wrong place at the wrong time, with technophobe tendencies which become below the radar witticisms of his own accord - "Er, where is the 'on' button?" - Laughable for the 'mobi-mogul' types and 'wannabe mobi-moguls' who adopt a 'know-it-all' posture and spill out mobi-jargon as if it is a natural form of language that was chemically installed while we all were in diapers. For a technophobe who prizes himself for not having a cell-phone, he knows a lot about their signaling coverage, integrated servers, and modified system restore shop talk.
Brett Easton Ellis's American Psycho embroiders Gothicism and realism without the ghouls and vampires - the avid difference being King's cultural nuance - mojo perhaps, an inquisitive eye for the supernatural aids his horror credentials. The occurrence happened in Boston, manifesting from the most common device man has to hand - the cell-phone. King literally has his finger on the pulse as it were; unearthing 'the pulse' affect - vibrating into the human psyche, from ear to brain to murdering zombies. Like all beings King's murdering zombies interact differently, they choose their targets along the route of human familiarity, indeed a human trait. Scientist phoners devoid Scientist non-phoners, parent phoners devoid child non-phoners, big chief phoners devoids little chief non-phoners. An rapidly grotesque exercise in Darwin's Natural Selection, all based on cell-phone usage - profoundly, it simplifies Darwin's theorem - although Wallace came up with the NS theory first - one for the anthropologists, keen on American horror fiction. Sex and violence is copiously blood thirsty - vamps, zombies and psychos need their fill / fix; the act of killing is sexually charged, barbaric and frenzied, an abandonment of sense: the phone crazies represents the pulse - and they are doing the devil's work. Good versus evil. Humanity wins through, as depicted by King's full-throttled Gothicism rather than the disjointed ghoulish cannibalism by which other authors attempt and fail. The problem with Snyder (Dawn of the Dead) his zombies depicts a heady night on the Strongbow cider. Brain is numbed. 'Cell' is a double Espresso in comparison; the brain is sharp for information.
Amongst the cataclysmic scenes - quietness descends about the red river carnage at dawn, the calm after the storm. King's descriptive dexterity of the crimson urban landscape stipulates realism which bridges the gap back to humanism - the book's hook and a renown King trait - they're all in the detail of the fingernail that makes King a sure sale; a master of the narrative locked in the genre of Gothic horror contemporary fiction - yeah, I did envisage Nicholas Cage on a hill-top, arms out stretch being all calm and angelic amongst the pandemonium where sirens of the night got lesser and lesser as the zombies grab the throat of humanity and squeezed with all their might. Was it a case of Johnny G 'good' or had he been listening to the Crazy Frog?' - After-all the cataclysmic event over a 28 day ordeal that was indeed hell on earth, the crux of the plot hankered on the cusp of not knowing if Johnny G had gone crazy over a Crazy Frog. Superfluous maybe, but that is the hallmark of human nature. A frenzied motor-biking Crazy Frog overriding human values and morality; now that is total nihilism, in the true sense of the word. He is King of wishful thinking; he has a long wait. Mobiles are here to stay, so be afraid. Highly recommended.
===All the books===
The last few weeks have been a flurry of activity for my book shelf. Finally I've been getting the time to get through the huge pile of stuff that has slowly and surely built up. I've cleared most of the books that I deemed to be quick reads and decided to start picking up the thicker, bigger books. This excites me to no end. If you don't love a good book then I don't know what to say to you. The next book that jumped out at me from my list of unread books was Stephen Kings' "Cell"
No, Elvis did not write this book. Stephen King did and he is widely revered as the King of Horror. He has written some utterly terrifying and emotional books and, I'm told, he has also written some terrible ones. Amongst the greats are "Misery" and "Pet Semetary" which I thoroughly enjoyed. One of his more recent releases "Under The Dome" was released while I was visiting my friend in Atlanta and meant that I got to meet the man himself, albeit for about twenty seconds; enough to make a joke (he had the good grace to laugh), get a picture and a signed copy and then move on. I always mean to read more of his work and never really get round to it.
My jingly pennies picked this book up from a charity shop for £1. If you are reading it on the kindle then you can get it for around £4.99 at the minute with the paperback version coming in a little dearer at £7.19. If you are a King fan you'll probably want to pay that just to have this in your collection. Personally I'm glad I found it in a charity shop!
The blurb of this one always had me a little on edge. I don't know if I loved the idea or hated it. A new virus has taken over and is being spread by the use of mobile phones. Anyone taking calls is infected. Clayton Riddell instantly starts regretting getting his son a mobile and need to try and get home to him before he turns it back on. Would this be a race against time? What was the nature of the infection? All I could tell from the blurb was that it was going to be bloody. And bloody it was. Within the first few pages King sets up a blood bath of epic proportions.
So, obviously, this book is about mobile phones. It's called Cell, you've read the blurb; you KNOW. Unfortunately King tries to sneak past any intelligence at least in the first 13 chapters and has his main character simply assume that whatever is happening is caused by phones because he saw no less than three people on their phones when everything went crazy. It doesn't feel right. It feels like a complete stretch that the character arrived at his conclusions so quickly. Thankfully most of the story doesn't continue with this habit of jumping to loosely cobbled together theories... well... ok... it does a little, but it at least seems a bit more plausible how they would come to the conclusions that they have.
===Yawn of the Dead===
The opening pages really are chilling and fantastic but I felt instantly let down when the "action" started. Rather than continuing the subtle use of the readers own imagination, King just goes right in for the jugular, literally, with people essentially turning into crazed zombie types, ripping everyone else limb from limb or simply going nuts and offing themselves.
At the start of the book, King states that it is for Richard Matheson and George Romero. This should have been a huge clue as to the book that followed. Richard Matheson wrote I Am Legend, an apocalyptic vampire story that was made into an apocalyptic vampirish-zombieish film. George Romero's claim to fame is zombie flicks such as Dawn/day/land/diary of the Dead. Not a huge fan of either, this stayed with me throughout the book hoping against hope I hadn't just picked up a zombie book. For a good chunk of the start I was let down completely as it was quite clear this WAS a zombie book. Not that zombies are always a bad thing. Resident Evil (all of them) are one of my favourite terrible cult horror films. 28 days later, while not zombies, are near as damnit, and also is one of my favourite (and good) horror films. Possibly the only thing that kept me reading was that the "Zombies" of Kings "Cell" were seeming much more like the rage filled beings of 28 days later. Throw in that despite myself I was curious if he could pull the story round to something decent. I knew he could write better than this, maybe he was just messing with me.
As it turns out King slowly but surely began to reel me in. There were some glaring differences between these "phone-crazies" and traditional zombies. For a start, they begin stopping what they are doing to seek out and eat food, not humans. After the initial burst of violence, they become much more unified. They begin moving as a group to the point where they are marching in unison. They are working towards something with one mind. But what? With a total turn around King manages to leave the word "Zombie" well behind as it is entirely lacking in its descriptive powers to tell you what these new beings have become and finally you start to see the inklings that this is not just a tale of destruction and survival. There is an underlying curiosity as to what is going on, who caused "The Pulse" that sent everyone loopy and to what end?
Clay is a bit of a nut-job. He has a very unique perspective on events stemming from his background in comic books/ graphic novel artwork. He has a tendency to sprout completely random stuff but I love the way his brain works, you can almost see the dark graphic novel type images his brain is creating for him throughout which King describes perfectly. He drives most of the story for me wondering if he will find his family. Though I also began to wonder why his family seemed to take precedent over the family of the others who joined with him but, as if King heard me thinking it, he drops in little hints here and there.
Tom is another survivor that Clay meets. His character is calm cool and collected. He seems to be the voice of reason amongst the insanity. Also I really appreciated how subtle King was about certain aspects of Tom's personality (which I won't spoil for you) when he could have easily chosen to make him a complete stereotype. While I appreciated King's subtlety, I didn't really feel like I cared too much about Tom either as he was, frankly, just a bit dull.
Alice is a young girl who has lost her family. She plays the part of the slightly unhinged member of the group fairly well and, again, with a lot of subtlety on Kings' part. After the incredibly unsubtle beginning it was nice to see him calm down a bit and really build the characters bit by bit. She also serves for a much needed jolt of emotion later in the story.
===1cha 2pt 3ers 4===
I think the thing that annoyed me the most about this book was the sheer amount of chapters in it. I like a long book, I really do, but King seems to have some sort of weird chapter fetish. Where most writers are happy to just use paragraphs to split their writing up, King throws in a new chapter number every page or so. The chapters are so short and the proceeding ones don't change the subject, they simply carry on from the exact same place. They don't end when something happens, they just suddenly come up against a space with a chapter number in it for absolutely no reason. There is even one page (ONE PAGE!!!) that has sections of THREE chapters on it: the end of one chapter, the entirety of the next and then the start of a new one. I just don't see the need at all. Was it to create a sense of disjointed urgency about the proceedings? I really don't know. Whatever his reasons, I wish I could go back in time to when he was writing and slap his hand every time he reached for the buttons to create another chapter number.
Even more infuriating is the fact that King splits the story up even more, popping all these chapters under different headings. There are 18 chapters under "THE PULSE", 21 chapters under "MALDEN" and so on. Each time you hit a heading the chapter number reverts to "1" so you don't even get the satisfaction of knowing that you are on chapter 385 (ok, so in total there are actually 133 chapters, sue me for exaggerating!). Maybe I'm just nit picking but it seems needless. He could have easily split the book up with the main chapter titles and left the chapter numbers out of it entirely. King slowly begins to build the beefyness and number of chapters up till the middle of the book where there it then deteriorates to sections no more than about ten pages with 6 chapters. It was frustrating. By the time I came to the end of the story, however, I had noticed that I was starting to enjoy it a lot more. I was no longer distracted by the chapters being so short because they no longer carried on straight after one another. King started using the chapter breaks to jump forward a little in the story which was a much more natural way to read the story for me. Just a shame he hadn't started doing that earlier.
===All tied up===
Throughout the book, I was driven by a few questions. Mainly I wanted to know what the master-plan for the phone-crazies was. I wanted to know if Clay's family were still alive. I wanted to know what "The Pulse" that caused all the mayhem was, how it worked, who set it up and why. Mostly, however, a lot of my questions were not answered. The ending snuck up upon me quite a bit and the whole story ended on a "in the middle of important stuff" note. Essentially King is flipping me the bird and telling me to think for myself what the outcome was. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mind having to think about certain things. Some of the questions would have happily gone un-answered without too much griping. But some of the stuff King left unanswered made me want to shout at him "This is YOUR story Stephen!! YOU TELL ME HOW IT ENDS!" it left me feeling a little frustrated. I admit it was probably a clever place to leave it but it still felt a little too open for interpretation at the end for my liking. Interestingly King himself mentioned at a book signing that he had had complaints about the ending so he rewrote it for a screenplay version he wrote which is rumoured to be starring John Cusack as Clay.
I had a few ups and downs with this book. I started off not really liking it that much due to the "in your face" zombie style violence that has been, quite frankly, done to death even before King wrote this tale. After the initial disappointment, however, my curiosity was gently tweaked by King without me even realising it and I started needing to know what was going to happen. King left me frustrated with the ending regardless of how clever it was. It felt like he was just trying to get out of explaining what happened next. I'm waiting for the screenplay version to become a reality so I can see what his re-imagined ending looks like. As it stands though, I think I have to stick with three stars for this book. I did enjoy parts of it. The ideas are clever and different but they take a little long to start showing through and as a lot of the story ends without going into WHY things were happening those ideas are left aimlessly floating around which is a shame. It's not the zombie-cack it appears to be for the first few chapters but it's also not the most satisfying read. King fans may still enjoy it but I don't see me reading this again and I am glad I finished it before I go on holiday at the start of may as I wouldn't have appreciated such a bad ending taking up precious luggage space.
Cell presents the very interesting concept that viruses spread through technological equipment (in this case, mobile phones) can infect humans, with disastrous results.
The book was written at a time when mobile phones were becoming more and more popular (if not essential) and it makes for some very compelling reading to start off with.
A pulse, spread via mobile phones, affects anyone who happens to be on their mobile or answer a call as the pulse is spread, and instantly changes their behaviour by turning them into savage zombies, completely void of any humanity.
We follow a group of survivors with their struggle in a world that no longer makes sense, and as the zombie's behaviour mysteriously seems to change as days pass, the fast-paced action makes this a real page-turner.
The book is well written (and I wouldn't have expected any less from a well established writer such as Steven King) however its largest downfall is the ending, which is left horrendously open-ended.
Sometimes open-ended endings are genius, however in this instance I found it extremely unsatisfying, and the overwhelming impression I got was that King came up with this brilliant concept, started to write the book without really planning the ending, and then when it came to writing the conclusion to the book he just... simply stopped writing, and left it at that.
As a reader, I felt somewhat cheated. I would still recommend the book on the basis that the plot unravels very well and is a good read, however don't expect a great ending.
Cell was written for George A. Romero by Spephen King as a thankyou to his contribution to the horror genre (and they are friends!).
As with alot of Stephen King novels the horror is within relating to real life and making the horror real to the reader. The story revolves around a pulse which makes all people using mobile phones at the time turn aggressive and into killers. The story then follows a group of survivors as they try to figure what has happened and how they will cope with the aftermath and the madness that has consumed their friends and family. the main protagonist is trying to find his son and he is one of the main focuses of the story.
For those of you worrying that this a a 'zombie' story, don't worry as they aren't. they are more in the realm of 28 days later style of zombies which then further on into the book goes more sinister. Its a great twist and one worth reading, just to see a fresh take.
You won't look at a phone the same way again
Cell by Stephen King
I actually ended up with two copies of this novel, I bought one for me and then one of my friends bought me a copy without knowing for my birthday. I am not a huge fan of Stephen King but I am a fan nonetheless. I am pretty sure that most of everyone whether they read his books or not will have an idea about who Stephen King is and at least have a vague idea of some of his horror stories that have been adapted into TV series, films and the books themselves having been translated into many languages.
Stephen King is known for writing huge tomes of novels - The Stand, or the more recent Under the Dome, creating whole worlds and all the intricate details that fill them. This novel Cell is on a smaller scale and with only just under 400 pages this isn't near the scale of some of his previous classics.
The cell isn't one of his best books but regardless of this I found it an entertaining read. It is a bit like a Zombie apocalypse but with a few Stephen King twists. The pulse as it has been named was a virus that was carried and transmitted by every cellular phone operating in the world. As you can imagine this would reach just about everyone, very few of us these days don't own or rely on one of these. Within mere hours of receiving the deadly virus everyone that heard the infected call becomes violently insane. Clayton Riddell very luckily makes the connection between the cell phone usage and people's destructive and dangerous behaviour, but with no way to immediately contact his family he can't warn his son to not answer or go anywhere near his cell phone. We are drawn into Clay's life following his struggle to get back to his son and try and live in this new world where nothing will ever be as it had been.
I think that this deserves a 3.5 rating, however, it will have to settle for an average three out of five star rating. I enjoyed this but it wasn't one of his best efforts and it wasn't among the best horror fiction out there, it was just an entertaining novel. I don't think that this book will become a classic Stephen King novel but that doesn't mean that it isn't worth reading. The story moves along at a good pace and there are some interesting developments and he creates a world different from the majority of Zombie like apocalypses that are out there.
This is available to buy at pretty much every good bookstore and online book outlet. At the moment you can buy this for £5.49 from Amazon.
I usually love the Stephen King classics but I thought I'd be bold and buy one of his newer pieces. I was disappointed. The plot line was under developed and cliched - the same tired and abused storyline of some great viral desease sending everyone but a small band of people round the twist.
The characters are for the most part under developed and quite frankly boring - the only character that had some charm was killed off and replaced by people that were neither written about with any detail or I can even remember the names of. I slogged through this quite lengthy book and was determined to finsh it and did it have a good ending? No, it didn't, I wont give it away but you will be severely disappointed.
In all there are much better zombie books than this 'jump on the bandwagon' excuse. I would suggest 'I am legend' instead written in the 1940s and still holds up to the newer books. Stephen King has a lot to answer for for this shameful piece of, well I can only describe it as fanfiction.
You must try try harder Mr King!
Once upon a time, all I wanted for Christmas was a mobile phone. Then I read 'CELL' by Stephen King. Now I don't even want to live within 10 miles of an O2 store!
This novel brings a new twist to Apocalypse Fiction and provides Stephen King readers with a fresh take on zombie splatter-fiction.
Aspiring artist Clay is heading to a meeting to sell his ideas for a new comic book, when suddenly he witnesses a shocking attack mere feet from him. It soon becomes obvious that anyone using a cell phone is being turned into a vicious and bloodthirsty maniac. Clay wastes no time in deciding to return to his wife and son. The only trouble is, they are halfway across the country and there are a million crazy people between them.
This novel had me on the edge of my seat for the 3 days it took me to finish it. Surprisingly streamlined in his use of imagery and language, King once again takes pleasure in the details, drawing pictures and revealing events without forcing circumstances on you the way less competent thriller writers do.
Essentially a road trip story with horror elements thrown in, CELL quickly draws the reader into a diseased world where the biggest threats are not always from the bands of 'zombies', but from normal people struggling to find their place in the new order of things.
While not in the same league as THE STAND or IT, CELL is a great quick-fix of horror that manages to tap into the primal fears of the generation and leaves you in no doubt that this could really happen...
One of the riders that accompany this book is that Stephen King doesn't own a cell (mobile, in real English) 'phone. Having read this book (and, bought the hardback version) I can see why. But having already done a review of the Motorola V9, it's probably a tad too late for me.
I doubt if anyone does the dystopian, apocalyptic scenario better than this man, although he has yet to reach the doom-laden heights that The Stand took him to. Personally, I don't think he will - but, what the hell, what do I know? Some of his material has been disappointing of late, and dare I say rather anodyne in tone. The Cell, however, marks a refreshing upturn in the King literary/horror portfolio, laden as it is with latent menace, nature red in tooth and claw, and the oft-considered 'Realpolitik' nasty part of human nature. King brings out such quailities, if they be the right words, very effectively.
He also, conversely, does hope and human aspiration very well, too. (witness: 'It'.) Unlike It, however, this isn't a panegyric to childhood heroism and the angst of growing up and having to tackle reality. It occasionally reaches the edgy lip of the abyss, then skilfully drags us back to safety just when all seems lost. Without putting too fine a point on it, this book has retrieved, in my view, some of King's true horror credentials, at least to a degree. But, in the final analysis, you have to read the damn' thing yourself to find out it that's true or not.
Fans of classic horror lured by promises of an end-of-the world survivor vs monster clash, assured that they will not use their mobile for days and cries of "Genius storytelling"* will instead be dissappointed with Kings railroad and, quite frankly, boring tale of a phone-related apocalypse. Indeed the only Kingesque feel to the book is in the opening few pages after which it becomes a one way ticket to... nothing, with plenty of worthlessness thrown in along the way.
The story tells of a post-"pulse" survivor, Clayton Riddell (in later editions convincingly replaced by a plank with a face drawn on it), searching for his son in a country giving us as much of a haunting glimpse into the end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it as a childs picture of a horse. While our heroes spend the majority of their time hiding out in houses and generally not doing very much, the (so aptly named...) 'phone crazies' bumble around displaying as much inactivity as their sane counterparts (Oh, apart from the odd mutilation of their comrades).
Clasiccally, Riddell builds up a group of normies, each one an amateur psychologism of American Man, and they head off across America for more deeds of derring do.
It seems as though King has sampled themes which he masterfully explored in his earlier books (the end of the world scenario in The Stand and the powerful father-son relationship in Pet Semetary to name a couple) and half-heartedly rolled them together into one abysmal story which ends as abruptly and subtly as a train crash.
It must be said that King has his ups and downs, and unfortunately this book is definitely one of his low points. Cell was in fact the first Stephen King book I attempted to read, and knowing of his renown as a world famous horror writer was massively dissappointed. After stopping a quarter of the way through and working my way through such classics as "It" and "The Stand" I returned to "Cell" to finally finish it - I often wonder why I bothered.
* Daily Mail
*This review contains traces of spoilers* [Like nuts]
Stephen King needs no introduction. One of my favourite writers of all time and possibly one of the only writers whose books I indulge in that can make my flesh crawl and want to sleep with the light on all night after reading his work.
'Cell'is just as gripping as most of his previous work and was released in 2006 to critical praise with a movie adaptation in the pipeline for a release sometime this year.
The book focuses around Clayton Riddell, a struggling writer whom when we first meet him has just received his first break and is on his way home to his son and estranged wife. However as he heads through Boston, people suddenly start to go insane and begin attacking each other in typical Stephen King bloodshed inspired style.
The reason for this is a signal being transmitted globally through cell phones and Clayton - coined with a few other survivors such as the witty and perceptive teenager Alice and cat loving Tom now find themselves the outsiders of a whole new mankind. As they travel across America they come across other survivors who are forced to flee at night as the 'phonies' are sleep. What starts off as bloodshed and violence turns into a whole new species so to speak as the book at its base discusses human evolution, the human brain and its functions and the violent and dangerous nature of mankind.
The book is amazingly indepth and has moments where you will sit back and marvel the knowledge and the detail that has gone into crafting the plot and others where you will get a horrible shiver down your spine and check your front lawn for intruders!!
'Cell' is an extremely clever take on the whole zombie horror movie genre but at its core is a shcoking expedition of the human pscyhe and what makes the story all the more terrifying is that in a time of such technological advancements and of course the war on terror it is not really that difficult to imagine something like this happening.
Clay is fueled by the need to find out if his son is still alive or has become one of the 'phonies' as referenced in the book though this isn't revealed until right at the very end and I found the ending itself to be too abrupt. After sharing your time with these characters it feels like whilst there is some closure- it's not enough. You're left with a burning ache to find out what happens next not only to the characters but to also human civilisation.
King's trademark wit is evident throughout every page whether it's the hi-tech talk explaining the situation or the often use of bad language, he captures real people perfectly and that's what makes the characters so interesting. Because they're not some glorified fictional creation who are perfect and heroic, they are normal individuals with their own flaws and fears and it's not difficult at all to imagine being one of them.
'Cell' is a brilliant novel because it manages to get under your skin and make your flesh crawl. The gore especially at the start of the book may be a bit too hard to swallow for some but King is fantastic at pulling the reader into the situation. The gripping fear and terror eminates from the pages themselves and I very rarely am taken in by a book in such a way. He pulls no punches and unlike other books is not afraid to reach to the darkest parts of the human psyche and display them for all to see in a bloody and horrifying manner.
'Cell' is a different kind of horror because it's not as hard to imagine than say vampires and werewolves or whatever other supernatural creatures are going to come crawling out of the woodwork. It's one of Stephen King's greatest moments and definately worth the goosebumps and sleepless nights when reading it.
How much do you use your cell phone? After reading this book you might not use it much anymore!
A rather good book written in a classic style. Parts of it, a trip across the US are reminiscent of The Stand.
A graphic designer is having a good day. He has just sold a new graphic novel, when almost without warning a girl attacks and horribly mutilates her best friend. Around him more and more people are starting to go crazy.
A terrible pulse has been sent via. mobiles to cause a terrible craziness. Only those who do not use cells are unaffected. The unaffected people are promised that the town of Kashwick will be left for them, so they start a trek across the country towards freedom.
B ut are they being deceived? What do you think?
Overall, this is a really scary book, terrifying beginning and very upsetting end.
I bought this book on the recommendation of a friend who said it was "fantastic old style Stephen King" and not to be missed. I couldn't resist with such high praise! Thankfully I picked up a copy on ebay for a few pennies plus p&p.
The general story is cell phones are being used to control the population and what follows is zombie type behaviour and violence aplenty. We read most of the story as seen by a small group who are unaffected as they don't have cell phones. We follow them as they try to find and save loved ones, fight the evil and meet others who are also unaffected. I really can't go into any more detail than that without giving away large chunks of the story!
When I first started reading this I realised it was very "old style Stephen King" but rather than finding this appealing I found it quite hard to get into the story, it was very much like the horror books I used to read in the 80s. Nonetheless I persevered.
As I read on I did get into the story but found the characters very two dimensional and lacking real depth and personality which is not something I've come to associate with Stephen King these days, he can give a character such a real feel it's a shame he didn't in this book.
The story itself isn't bad, it is very 80s style but does draw you in as you read. There are of course some twists to the plot but nothing you don't see coming to be truthful.
As for the ending, I like a definite end whether it's good or bad most of the time and this was left hanging so I wasn't keen on the ending and felt cheated he hadn't wrapped it up.
Overall if you're a dedicated King fan you may want to read this but it's nowhere near his best.
I can't see why this book keeps getting poor ratings by everyone, I absolutely loved it and I have read many of Stephen Kings' books. This is my 2nd most favourite book I have read written by King. Maybe it has poor ratings because it's slightly different to his older books, but I thought it was a great read.
It's almost a sort of more modern version of 'The Stand' (even mentioning the awful Crazy Frog ringtone near the start of the book) and right from the start this book had me addicted. Everyone who is using or has a mobile phone suddenly starts going crazy and one man is looking for his son hoping he didn't take his mobile phone to school.
OK so that might sound rather silly but this book has a very strange atmosphere through out it that just keeps you hooked. I'm a huge fan of post apocalyptic style books though so I may be biased as this book is totally my thing.
When you reach the end you just can't believe it's the end... which as frustrating as it was, I also thought it was good! Better than the 'happy ever after' ending it could have been, which would have ruined it in my opinion.
Stephen King is a somewhat prolific writer and has penned around 50 novels, as well as short stories, 'series' and even books under a different name. His first published novel was Carrie - 1974, shortly followed by 'Salem's Lot - 1975, then the seminal 'The Shining' - 1977. There have been some great books since including, The Stand - 1978, The Dead Zone - 1979. Then he seemed to, in my opinion lose his way a bit until Misery - 1987, which was an absolute classic, and no doubt drew on his own experiences of being in a horrific road accident. I have to say I did not read much of his stuff again until Needful Things - 1991 and I found his writing style, by then, had changed to be a lot more complex, and 'mature', when I much preferred his raw stuff, though of course he penned another classic with The Green Mile - 1996. Many of his books have been made into some pretty awful films, with the exception of The shining and Green Mile.
So when a friend suggested Cell, I thought more than twice as to be honest I was quite bored with trying, and not finishing his stuff of late, including the bizzare Dark tower series, really not my cup of tea. So I was pleasantly surprised when the first few pages of Cell hooked me, it read pretty much like a King work of old, maybe not as gruesome, but certainly edgey.
The basic storyline starts with a young comic book artist (maybe another King experience, he has published comics) called Clay sucsessfully selling his new comic to a publisher which means he, his wife and young son will have a better life, then of course, in true King style, something mucks it all up. That something is a crazy few minutes that are the satrt of a nightmare, people attacking people, behaving like crazed feral animals, biting and killing, this happens almost everywhere, almost overwhelmingly for Clay and he battles to find safety amongst the carnage.
Clay soon realises that the people affected by this crazy behaviour have all been on their cellphones (mobiles to you and me) and he starts to think about his son and wife who have acsess to cellphones, as does almost everyone else and wonders how they are, he cannot of course contact them as communications, traffic, law enforcement and civilisation as we know it rapidly comes to a halt. These people that are affected are full of agression and attack anyone and anything and pretty soon the streets are littered with the dead and dying. As not only are the crazies attacking the non crazies, but each other, all due to a 'pulse' that has come over the cellphone network, though we never really find out for sure how and why this happened.
This is where a book review gets difficult as i want to give you enough of a flavour to get you to read it, but not too much to spoil the plot.
Clay hooks up with some other 'normies' and has to avoid, and sometimes kill the 'phoners' on his quest to get back to his wife and son. Though he, and his friends soon realise that although the 'phoners' have regressed to 'neandrethal' in some ways, loss of speech etc, they have developed, or 'awakened' parts of the brain not usually used, such as group telepathy. The 'flock' telepathy is directing survivors (normies) to a town where Clay believes his wife and son to be, though he also believes that when all the survivors reach said town they will be massacred. This is but one dilemna that Clay faces, there are others. This is a little of where the book falls down as it can be a bit predictable; small band of survivors, battling all odds, some die, ultimately some central characters make it, all we need is the Stars and Stripes fluttering in the final scenes and some uplifting music to really make it awful, thanfully this does not happen.
The plot is fast, there are characters that the reader grows to 'know' and sadness when some of them (not saying who) meet sticky ends, there is a sense of impending doom which King conveys well and he has an uncanny ability to take the reader to the place they are reading about. The ending is quite strange and abrupt, that's all I'll say about it, there is plenty of action, plenty of sub plots and some good comedic intervals.
I suspect that this will be made into a film at some point, and it could be a pretty good one, depending on casting.
Not the best of Stephen King, but better, in my opinion than some of his stuff of late.....6/10 for me, where the shining rates as a 9/10. Buy from Amazon, cheap, or at a local bootsale.
At the risk of sounding like Annie in Stephen King's book, "Misery", I'm at least one of his best fans, (though not his number one fan). After a somewhat dry period I am now catching up on his latest works. I've just finished reading Cell and I've got a copy of Lisey's story waiting to read. Now King has written an awful lot of books and I feel privileged to have read nearly all of them. I discovered his books in my late teens and I've read all except the full "Dark Tower" series. Somehow I just couldn't get into this in the same way as his novels.
So I regard myself as somewhat of an expert when it comes to his books.
After reading "Carrie" and "The Shining", I started to buy his books in the hardback version and at one time I owned about twenty of these. I had a house fire in 1997 and lost all my books, but I've since managed to replace most of the collection, even though I had to settle for many of the paperback versions as I could never afford many of those older books.
I even read and identified the Bachman books, long before anyone else even had an inkling of the true author. (My letters were never answered).
I've read his collaborations with Peter Straub, a great personal friend of King's and a spectacular writer in his own way. I've also read King's non-fiction works. I know this may seem a long introduction, but I'm stating my own credentials for a reason. I really do know this authors works inside out.
Cell is an interesting book and a departure from King's normal writings. The basic story mirrors some of his earlier ones, in particular, The Stand, but its roots go far deeper. Maybe even as far back as Salem's Lot and that was, I think, his second book.
In essence the plot is fairly simple. On October 1st in the present (at the time of writing), the books hero, Clayton Riddell, is feeling particularly happy about a meeting in Boston, in which his artwork is about to make him comfortably wealthy. He's thinking about his son, Johnny and his estranged wife Sharon, in a positive mood.
The event which eventually becomes known as "the pulse" starts at 3.03pm when a woman who answers her mobile phone suddenly becomes as feral as a wild animal. Clay witnesses this incident and many more in a space of minutes, his initial puzzlement changing to alarm and then full-scale panic as people start to act like wild animals. Some attack others while all around him there are shouts, screams, and sounds of gunfire, airplane crashing and buildings on fire.
Civilisation is slipping into a new dark age, heralded by something which affects the brains of those who listen to their mobile phone. And in a young, trendy place like Boston that happens to be many of its citizens. By the time that Clayton starts to grasp what is happening, he's already helped out another man and a young girl who is a victim of cell-phone violence. For Clay doesn't own a mobile phone, but over a hundred miles away his young son does have a cell-phone and from what is happening it could be only a matter of time before his boy might succumb to the bloody carnage of those driven into madness by their phones. In a race against time he is forced to walk across country, taking some of his new-found friends with him. But the phone-crazies, as they are dubbed, are starting to band together in the worst possible way. Could this be the end of the world? To Clay and his small band it seems like it.
This departure from King's normal plots may be seen as refreshing by many of his fans. In fact I thought it sounded good, as I'm one of those rare people who just cannot abide mobile phones. However, the reasons put forward by various characters in the book seemed to be implausible to me. A terrorist group who wanted to kill the majority of mankind? Hardly likely since such groups rely heavily on this technology. What could be the gain since every person who put the phone to their ear seemed determined to kill anyone around, including themselves? The sane survivors become too frightened to try to listen in to radios and there are no TV broadcasts to say what is happening.
No explanation is made about the many car crashes that block the main roads, forcing the survivors to go on foot in small groups of very few people, some armed with guns and knives. This is where the whole plot starts to fall down.
King's characters come from all kinds of backgrounds and they rarely act as the people in this book do. Clay's small group are repeatedly shunned by others, something that doesn't normally happen. In fact the characters themselves seem two-dimensional, almost as though King couldn't be bothered to put that energy and compassion into his characters. There are some parts where they do become more human, but it happens much later in the book. When his characters fill out they become more natural, but still don't have that flair of being just a bit more than they should be.
In fact the first part of the book puzzled me so much I couldn't even find anything that led me to believe that King had actually written it. It did strike me within a few pages, but I thought that maybe he was changing his style of writing. That's happened a lot lately to some other of my favourite authors. By now I'm getting paranoid and thinking of conspiracy theories. Has Stephen King been kidnapped and made to write completely different to his normal way of writing? Flat, boring characters, listless dialogue and although there is plenty of action it's happening somewhere else? This is not SK at all.
I write myself (that's not a plug by the way), and each writer has a sort of signature, a way of writing that is unique to him or her. It's something that cannot be duplicated and in its absence there's a huge question mark. To write in a style that hasn't changed much in thirty plus years just can't be done. Somewhere along the line the author is going to write in his normal way. Its like speech, you can't hide a certain accent.
So what is going on? I watched a programme some years ago about King's failing sight. Perhaps it had got to the point where he has to dictate? That can certainly inhibit any author. But there was nothing on the Net to suggest his sight had got to this point.
I finished the book and found that there was some of King's basic language in the writing later on. Like a detective I was looking for those certain signs that bespoke the author.
King has a very unique way of putting in a character's thoughts. It's usually in brackets and can be as little as one word. It's also a way of putting in the thought behind the main thought, if you know what I mean. In an early part of Cell, Clayton is leaving Boston with his small band of followers and thinks that the moon is like "a horror-comic moon." I would have expected something subtler and more like King.
e.g. Clay noticed the orange eye of the (devil) moon. That's a very rough example, but other King fans should have an idea of what I'm trying to say. To me these are King's signature words, his truthspeak, for want of a better word.
It's so personal to King that I can't imagine him not writing this way. There are also certain themes that crop up in many of his books. One is the flocking of birds that appear in the book "It" and also in "The Dark Half". Then there's a way of thinking which is just a bit uncomfortable. I think that he says things we all might think but never put into words. That feeling which suggests not all's right in a relationship. The suggestion of a darkness in every one of us. I think of King as a truthful man who dares to show some of his demons. So why is this book so empty of that passion, for want of a better word?
Maybe King had help writing it. The idea is good enough to come from him, but even his little quirks are written in as more than they should be. The child's sneaker? It appears in at least four of his books but gains an importance here that just doesn't ring true. He's a master of understatement, never having to explain his concepts.
I did enjoy the book, though I'm still not sure that King wrote it. Gave it birth, maybe, but the ending was poor, even though the sentiment was there in spades. And when Has King ever left a story hanging? The writing is that of a younger man who knows King well, maybe even his son?
Would I recommend it? As a puzzle, yes. I don't want to give any of King's books less than a four star, but there are just too many loose ends.
My copy was a birthday present and priced at £4.99 from Amazon. Used copies are available from 1p plus postage.
My apologies for the length of the review. I just felt that something was missing and hoped that other readers might add to this puzzle. I know that many readers find King's books too long, but take away the suspense, the things that can't be believed in and what is left?
This is not a horror story...it's a carefully contrived action book with hardly any plot and disappointing characters. Sorry, but to me it's a cop-out.
©Lisa Fuller. March 2008.
Don't miss Cell: A topical and terrifyingly plausible novel from the hard drive of the King of contemporary horror. 'Civilization slipped into its second dark age on an unsurprising track of blood but with a speed that could not have been foreseen by even the most pessimistic futurist. By Halloween, every major city from New York to Moscow stank to the empty heavens and the world as it had been was a memory.' The event became known as The Pulse. The virus was carried by every cell phone operating within the entire world. Within ten hours, most people would be dead or insane. A young artist Clayton Riddell realises what is happening. And together with Tom McCourt and a teenage girl called Alice, he flees the devastation of explosive, burning Boston, desperate to reach his son before his son switches on his little red mobile phone.