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Cell: A Novel

A book by Stephen King

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Three (Sometimes Four) Bars

  • Jan 8, 2007
Rating:
+1
It all starts off with a bang, or should I say pulse, that literally turns artist Clayton Riddell's world into a moaning, groaning, biting world of zombies. Clay had just completed what seemed to be a great business meeting with a company interested in his comics work. He walks outside with celebratory gifts in tow when havoc breaks out by an ice cream truck. Then havoc breaks out in the local park. People begin biting, eating, hacking, slashing, etc. each other. This is just a brief summary of the chaos that King unloads on his readers within the first few pages of "Cell," a work in technological terror that has all the ingredients to be a wonderful story, but seems to fall flat in the end.

King easily tosses the reader into Clay's insane world by way of cellphones. We are introduced to Clay immediately, and then he picks up a few stragglers along the way that really become more endearing than our hero. Clay has plans to find his son and estranged wife, even though they might have fallen victim to the cellphone "pulse" that seems to have set the world on its end. Clay is developed quite well, but I really never found a reason to cheer him on. For one, he encounters and joins up with a very thought-provoking and easily likeable character, Tom. Tom is the perfect foil to Clay's heroics. He's the gay character that seems to be becoming a token in most of today's modern fiction on the printed page or elsewhere. However, he's such a unique, goofy character that the reader is immediately drawn to him. He's a highly emotional character, and his emotions are a driving factor in what happens to our hero as the story rolls along. We also get to meet Alice, a scared (rightfully so) teenager who's dealing as best as she can with the upside down world she's now living in. Briefly joining the Clayton Riddell caravan is one Mr. Ricardi, a by-the-book hotel manager, who helps out Clay and his friends. Later on in the novel, the group picks up Jordan and the Head, two wonderful additions to Riddell's little flock. The Head is exactly that, a headmaster at an academy for boys. He's very, very intelligent and convinces Clay and his friends to help him and young Jordan execute a plan to fight the "phoners." These actions result in the further devlopment of and evolution of the "phoners." As the story unfolds, Clay and his friends come face to face with a bizarre zombie representative in a red Harvard hoody. This character, though he speaks very little, completely changes the tale. He threatens the group, punishes those who harm them, and eventually drives them to the climactic point of the tale as Kashwakamak Hall.

From the beginning of the fallout, Clay's main goal is to find his son and former wife. The "phoners" use this goal to their advantage, selectively forcing Clay and the others to do their bidding. In the end, however, it alls comes off as if the manipulation and terror were used to no avail. The ending is just "blah," for lack of a better term. We never really get any closure as to why the pulse happened, who or what caused it, and, of course, what really happens with Clayton and his son. In short, the story is great until the climax, where everything is left neatly untied and unresolved.

I've noticed in other reviews that "Cell" is rumored to be a novel used to push forward ideas and concepts from the "Dark Tower" series. Having never read any of that particular series of books, I have no idea if this is true. I do know that King has often tied many of his stories together, which is great if you have the time to read all of these particular tie-ins, but I don't. This is the fourth King novel that I've read, the others being "Carrie," the wonderful "The Green Mile," and the slightly terrorizing "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon."

Don't get me wrong, when King is on, he's on. There are plenty of terrible moments in this story that draw up good scares, but the ending kills any real resolve in the story. I'll take "The Green Mile" or "Gordon" over this one anyday. I still recommend it because it does have some wonderful characters in it. I'd just like to have a bit more closure than what is offered in this tale.

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More Cell: A Novel reviews
review by . April 20, 2006
This is almost a Richard Bachman book. Simple, direct, bloody and not too full of itself. It's almost the anti-thesis of THE DARK TOWER. (Which is kind of funny to say, since much of the book involves a small group of unlikely companions traveling by foot along unfamiliar roads, confronting one crisis after another.) It feels very much like a book wanting to be a movie.    Yes, it is a zombie story, of sorts. Everyone in the world who uses a cell-phone has their brains/programming …
review by . April 09, 2006
In a world that is currently under seige by all manner of technology, the cell phone stands out as the one most people cannot do without, and the one most likely to be abused and exacerbate how rude we can all be to one another....in his most recent novel, King demonstrates how he feels about this particular piece of progress. It's a beautiful morning in Boston, until Clayton Riddell, a Maine artist about to make good, witnesses chaotic and inexplicable human behavior that seems to be related to...what …
review by . March 20, 2006
What would happen to society if a mental "reboot" signal was sent through the cell phone system all at once? That's the premise of Stephen King's latest, Cell.    Clay Riddell is celebrating his first major cartoon contract, and is looking forward to getting home to his wife and son. But all that changes in an instant when a strange signal is sent out to all the cell phones on the cellular system. Those who placed a call or were on the phone are turned into mindless deranged …
review by . February 08, 2006
Finally, a new book by Stephen King that doesn't feel like you're holding a concrete block when you're reading it! This new, slimmed down King is a throwback to his earlier, shorter books, and I, for one, appreciate the change. The prose is more sparing, the plot moves along quite quickly, and the tension never ceases. My only quibble with the story is that it seemed to end just a bit prematurely, but I'm sure Mr. King wanted to leave just a bit of doubt about the outcome in his readers' minds. …
review by . February 06, 2006
"Cell" is definitely a novel that hearkens back to Stephen King's origins in the raw, brutal side of the horror genre. It doesn't pull its punches, and as a result it's a fun read.    Make no mistake...I've enjoyed King's recent work quite a bit. "From a Buick 8" and "The Colorado Kid" were both departures for King, and to me were signs of a maturing author coming into his own. Those books had a complexity and an ambiguity that King's never really explored in the past. "Cell" …
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Kendall Fontenot ()
Ranked #17
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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Wiki

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. ...

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Details

ISBN-10: 0743292332
ISBN-13: 978-0739464335
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Scribner

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