Book 1 of the Book Chick City Stephen King Challenge down! BOOM!
Told you I read fast. 🙂
Cell is one of the few Stephen King books that I have reviewed before, albeit in 2006, and I still agree with my initial assessment that Sai King was blowing off steam after finishing his magnum opus, The Dark Tower. However, reading Cell a second time was a far more disconcerting experience than the first, probably because I didn’t read it in one day like last time and since I remembered what happened I could take my time enjoying the yarn. I had some hard core nightmares after this reading; the creepiness of this straightforward “zombie” tale and its social commentary seemed ever-more relevant now than even four years ago.
A pulse that travels through cell phones causes anyone on their phone to go crazy and either kill themselves or kill others in the most primal teeth-ripping ways possible. The few people who did not have phones escape the lunacy, only to find themselves in an increasingly bizarre post-apocalyptic world.
One of the eeriest aspect of this story was that King never tells you who, or what, caused The Pulse that wipes out humanity as we know it. *Shiver* Theories abound, but nothing verified, which pulled me right into the survivors’ sense of alienation and terror. The story also ends on a horrifying cliffhanger that could be the most effective part of the story’s construction.
While I read I also had in mind a number of bad reviews of Cell that claimed this was a poor re-working of The Stand. Either those people don’t really know The Stand very well or they didn’t read Cell very carefully because I didn’t find any parallels other than the apocalypse clime. The Stand is about a superflu created by the US government that accidentally gets unleashed. The Stand is a tale of good versus evil, with God, the Devil, Prophets and other Biblical themes in play. The Stand is epic, even longer than IT. There is an absolute zero of any of this in Cell. We don’t know what or who caused The Pulse, but it’s not a virus. The religious undertones are at a minimum. Cell barely breaks 500 pages. And there are no zombies in The Stand. So if you’ve read those bad reviews and they put you off reading Cell, then I’d encourage you to reconsider. Ditto if you wrote one of those bad reviews.
Like I said in my previous post, this is not King’s best work. That said, it doesn’t need to be. He’d just finished writing one of his best works, he is allowed to write something lighter. I could tell he didn’t really care about these characters as much as Roland and his Ka-Tet, otherwise I would have been bawling my eyes out as people died. How could he be expected to invest so much in Cell? His 20+ year friendship with The Dark Tower had come to something of an end. Isn’t he allowed to freaking take a break? And this isn’t me being a zealous fan, either. Okay, maybe a little bit. But mostly not.
Mainly I think this was a solid horror story that I really, really REALLY hope NEVER EVER happens. (Terrorists should NOT be allowed to read this book!) Goddess help us if it does.
Cell is a straightforward homage to the zombie flicks of olde. The visual style of King’s writing fits perfectly with those narratives from the 1970s, and in that context it is absolutely brilliant.
©Sezin Koehler, 2011.