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Cell from Hell

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08.11.2009

Advantages:
Good Story, entertaining, quick read

Disadvantages:
Disappointing ending, not as descriptive as other King novels

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:

Would you read it again?

Story

Characters

Readability

How does it compare to other works by the same author?

How does it compare to similar books?Quite good

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CELL


STEPHEN KING

I have come to the decision that Stephen King doesn't care much for modern technology-or the people who've created much of what we now rely on for everything in life day to day.

In some of his other books, King has created worlds where Man-made viruses wipe out more than 99% of the world's population leaving the survivors facing a battle of biblical proportions.
Cars inhabited by evil spirits kill people, or all the cars come alive and take over the world.
Machinery devours not only the souls of the workers, but their bodies (or parts of them anyhow) as well.

I think maybe he has the soul of a Luddite-albeit a twisted and crazy one.
I can just imagine Mr. King in a previous life, gleefully, chopping to bits the machines forced upon mankind during the Industrial Revolution - take that you Spinning Jenny - Watt's steam engine - no way!!

One thing is certain - he hates mobile phones (or cell phones as we are being American in this book), and I don't think he cares much for the people who use them, uncaring of those around them. It certainly is a fact that we have become a society hooked on those little appliances, leaving manners, good sense and privacy to one side as we chatter and text away.

In his own warped way King shows what could happen IF.

If someone created some sort of virus-called in the book "The Pulse" that on a specific day, at a specific time, when sent out over the phone waves, it wipes out the rational human minds of all who dare to have their ears glued to a mobile.

The story opens on October 1st with our main protagonist, Clay Riddell, waiting to buy an ice cream.

Clay, a young artist, has just landed his first big publishing contract in Boston. He has a troubled marriage and a young son, Johnny, waiting for him at home in Maine, and hopes that his recent success will ease his marital problems.

As he stands in the queue, he is feeling happy and optimistic; he's even bought a present for his wife, Sharon.

As he waits for his turn in the queue he watches the people around him, the woman talking to a friend on her cell phone, the teen-aged girls giggling one making a call, the other listening to it.

One minute everything is normal, the next-everyone who was on the phone goes wild and they start screaming and killing people.
People begin ripping each other's throats out - literally. Before he knows it, Clay is in the middle of a total carnage that he doesn't understand and cannot seem to stop or prevent. The more people use their phones to call for help, the worse it gets.

Clay manages to escape, and then save another man named Tom McCourt a mild-mannered gay man.
They head back to the hotel where Clay is staying, trying hard to stay out of the way of 'The Phonies'.

Clay doesn't own a mobile phone, he is safe for the moment, but over a hundred miles away Johnny has a new red mobile phone, Clay is getting very worried.

Vehicles crash, planes fall out of the sky and policeman shoot men in cold blood and then head off to the next disaster leaving those who are still "sane" to fend for themselves. Tom and Clay soon save a teenager called Alice, Clay must try to make sense of the chaos and hopefully find some news of his family.

The Phonies are like telepathic zombies, led by a character called "The Raggedy Man"-a character oddly reminiscent of characters in other King books. Eventually, the Phonies don't want to just kill everyone not like them. What they want to do to the 'normals' is much, much worse.


I personally didn't think that 'Cell' was that much different from most post-apocalyptic fiction and found it very much like King's own 'The Stand'.
The villain may have changed from disease to mobile phones but the result is the same - a small band of stragglers pulled toward a foreseeable confrontation between good and evil.

Unfortunately for 'Cell', I read 'The Stand' first and found it to be far better in every way, from the circumstances in the book through to the characterizations.


I always find that one of the strongest points of all of King's novels is his ability to describe his characters - he has a knack of knowing how to get the reader really get behind his protagonists and to berate his antagonists.

Clay is the good-guy although he is not as interesting or committed as we really need. He spends a lot of time worrying about his son, which is perfectly understandable and noble, but we only know this child through those worries. The hope that Clay will reach his son Johnny-Gee and find him uncorrupted by phones gets beaten out of the reader over 350 pages.

I did enjoy the characters of Tom (who shares the leadership role, definitely a good choice) and Alice, and most of the rest of the assorted eccentrics the group meets along the way. Not as developed as Clay, they don't have as much chance to get annoying.

The descriptions in this book weren't as strong as other King books to me. When I read 'Salem's Lot' for example, I can picture the town, I can picture the houses, the characters, and can even "hear" the creepy background music that you know belongs with the story. I didn't "see" 'Cell' in the same way.

That said, 'Cell 'is hard to put down once you've picked it up. There is no shortage of traumatic scenes. I particularly liked the part at an abandoned private boys' school, where King introduces us to an elderly headmaster and the last of his charges, two very likeable and well-drawn characters.

Cell is an average Stephen King effort.
Unfortunately it is certainly not epic-level like The Stand or The Shining. It's about as good as middle of the roaders like Christine or Pet Sematary.

Because the major themes have played out so many times before in far better works - including those by King - it feels old and tired even if King does work some of his magic on the characterizations.
It's a relatively quick read and didn't actively bore me; it's a good rainy day choice for a loyal King fan.
Those unfamiliar with his books (all two of you) may want to simply read 'The Stand.'

The main problem of this book to me was the ending, or rather the lack of an ending. While the rest of the book had me racing to get to the end, I thought that too many significant plot points remain unanswered.

King doesn't finish the story of at all, it leaves you thinking that your book is incomplete and missing the final chapter.

I have my theories on what King means us to think - but to tell you would spoil the story for any who haven't read - for those who have you may be able to guess.

Anyway, I must finish now, my mobile is ringing .......................AGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!
Summary: Not King at his best.

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Comments about this review »

1st2thebar 24.06.2013 23:10

'click off' - lol

1st2thebar 24.06.2013 23:09

No, you missed the humanity prose - King approached the book in a 'click on, click on' mobile device clinical fashion.

Nothing-But-The-Truth 09.11.2009 19:21

Good job. My kind of book. Nothing-But-The-Truth (Happy to be your trusted friend)

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Product Information »

Product details

Type Fiction
Genre Horror
Title Cell
Author Stephen King
ISBN 0340921447; 0340921455; 0340921536; 0739464337; 1416534814; 8401335981; 9506440948

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This review of Cell - Stephen King has been rated:

"exceptional" by (7%):

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  2. stephbond89

"somewhat helpful" by (4%):

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