Review: CELL, by Stephen King

Finished reading Cell by Stephen King.

I really enjoyed it — This is King’s tribute to zombie apocalypse stuff: the book is dedicated to Richard Matheson (I Am Legend) and George Romero (Night of the Living Dead). The basic premise is that a signal gets carried through cell phones (called The Pulse), which essentially “wipes the hard drive” of the human mind, leaving nothing behind but base animal aggression. So, the zombies aren’t exactly dead, but they’re not human any longer. Given the widespread use of cell phones (and the habit of people to immediately try to contact loved ones when an emergency strikes), civilization pretty much collapses near-instantaneously.

King has written about the end of the world before, most famously in The Stand, but this one has the fingerprints of 9/11 all over it. Gone is the typical King method of introducing characters, getting us comfortable with them, getting to know then and then injecting something strange into their world. Nope….in this one, the apocalypse hits with 24-hour-news suddenness, on a bright Fall day, 3 pages into the narrative. He’s definitely tapped into the feelings experienced in 2001…and manages to convey them so well that I found myself hit with a familiar sense of trip-hammer panic as I was reading.

In short: Stephen King. Zombies. ‘Nuff Said.

17 Replies to “Review: CELL, by Stephen King”

  1. no spiders or other insect like monsters end up being behind the whole thing at the end, right? the first two (and only) King I’ve ever read ended that way, and unfortunately turned me off. heh.

    Oh, wait, I’ve read a lot of… shit. um. the domestic violence one. Red… something. Bull on cover. AH! Rose Madder. Not bad, actually.

    btw, that cover really makes me giggle. the cell phone… and the blood… heh.

  2. Check out Insomnia, one of my favorite all-time King books. It’s really a charming love story at its heart. I despised Rose Madder, though, so we might differ in what we like in regards to S. King.

    I liked The Talisman and Black House although he totally wimps out and pulls that “but he grew up and didn’t remember anything” bullshit at the end of The Talisman. Barf.

    I would recommend:

  3. The Stand: in a word, excellent. Even my mom liked it and she hates horror.
  4. Misery: Possibly the most terrifying thing I’ve ever read with no supernatural aspects at all.
  5. The Tommyknockers: Good alien creepiness with a liberal helping of gross.
  6. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon: an exercise in Amazing Writerly Shit that makes you realize just how talented this man is. There is, count her, one main character. One. Yes. One major character. The only time you see other characters are in the first and last chapters.
  7. The Gunslinger Series. If you can make it past the painful, stilted prose of the first one, you’re golden. It took me three tries to get past the craptacularness of the first book, though.
  8. Thinner: Kick ass scary story about what comes around goes around. No monsters, just very powerful gypsy magic.

    The Dead Zone and Pet Semetary: Yuck. Me no like at all. Most of his stuff I can at least see why others might like it, but these I couldn’t even finish. Depressing and formulaic to the point of pain.

  9. Sadly, that premise is identical to a short story I wrote a few years back and never sold (didn’t fit the anthology I pitched it to). Which means I can never sell it now, because it’ll be seen as a rip-off. Ah well, not the first time that’s happened, eh? *Glances at a file labeled Chimere and shakes his head.*

  10. Maybe some of these will help break me out of my funk. I’ll see if I can find some at Half Price or something. I desperately need something that I don’t feel I *owe* anything.

    I have had Little, Big from the library for a couple weeks, but I really don’t want to start it until I’m over this icky funk. Alien creepiness sounds like potential fun, or gypsies. Thanks.

  11. I have tons of Clive Barker if you want some good horror. One of the things Barker has over King: Fucking Amazing Hot Sex. And because he publishes less, he’s a lot more consistent with what’s good and what’s crap.

    I’m happy to loan you anything I’ve got…which is just about everything Barker has published except for Everville (which was a waste of time). Alas, Dean had all the S. King paperbacks. =)

  12. Agreed about Barker.

    Also– if you’re into it, On Writing by King is a great book. Half of it is his autobiography, and the other half is a writing manual. Good stuff.

  13. Fucking Amazing Hot Sex. And because he publishes less, he’s a lot more consistent with what’s good and what’s crap.

    (And we’re looking at Laurell K. Hamilton when you say that).

    I can back up what she has to say about Barker, particularly his novellas.

    The short story, “The Body Politic” and the novella “The Damnation Game” are worth the effort.

  14. And we’re looking at Laurell K. Hamilton when you say that

    She can’t even write hot sex, either, IMO. Crap and bad sex. Geez. Talk about a one-two punch of rotten.

  15. Thank you – I think I’ll get round to reading this a little bit sooner than I planned.
    Oh…I found you from random surfing…I might keep watching for a while, if that’s ok?

  16. The Gunslinger Series. If you can make it past the painful, stilted prose of the first one, you’re golden. It took me three tries to get past the craptacularness of the first book, though
    (sorry, random wierd girl that was randomly journal hopping and spotted this thread – I don’t bite, nonest :P)

    I liked books 2, 3, and 4 – most specifically 4 cause of all of the ‘in’ comments that you’d only possibly get if you read, or know some of his stories. After that, crash and burn. But they were supposedly rushed cause of medical stuff.
    Misery is a great book. The Stand was excellent, even though the first time I read it I had the most godawful cold :)
    I also liked his last (well, the last I have) short story collection, ‘Everything’s eventual’. It was shiny. :)

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