Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Cell by Stephen King

Cell phones. Everyone has one these days and it seems that the world couldn't function without them anymore. Suspend disbelief for a second. Imagine a new wave of terrorism where a terrorist could create a program that sent an electronic pulse through a cell phone that reprogrammed the human mind and caused pure chaos. Wiped the hard drive clean in a way leaving only man's most primal urges...the urge to kill. Scary thought. Though it could never happen in real life no matter how you look at it, it's still a scary end to the world, and would be a widely effective means of doing so. And that's why this is a work of fiction, and very good fiction at that I might add.

I must say that Stephen King has really improved as of late as a writer. I used to like King occasionally, but thought of him as kind of a joke (though there are a few masterpieces like The Shining in his collection). His latest two books, Cell and Lisey's Story, are wonderful though. King has gotten a much better feel for character development, and I find that I attach really closely to his characters. Several parts of this book almost managed to choke me up.

On October 1st, Clay Ridell is walking around in the heart of Boston after having his comic book finally accepted for publication. While waiting to get ice cream, a woman hangs up her cell phone and goes mad, biting and killing a man. Suddenly this erupts all around him and in a matter of minutes (we're talking everyone who has a cell phone), the apocalypse seems to begin. "The Pulse" has erased everyone's mind and eventually forms a telepathic link between all of "the phonies". Clay meets up some of the few who don't have cell phones and the book follows them struggling to survive and find ways to save the world. While trying to save the world, Clay is constantly on the look out for his young boy who owns a cell phone but may or may not have had it with him at the time that the pulse started. It is eventually discovered that "the phonies" "reboot" at night by "sleeping" in fields in masses and listening to elevator music. Opportunity strikes, but of course salvation is not an easy task.

So that's a very non-descript description of the book, but I don't want to give anything away. What I really liked about this book, is that it's the first real piece of Science Fiction that I have read by King, and I was very pleasantly surprised. This book looked incredibly stupid to me, I must admit, but it was a present from my brother so I figured I'd read it. I'm really glad I did. More than anything it feels like a really great, classic zombie story with a modern twist. It's not all blood and guts though (though there is certainly alot of that), it's also a very human and very touching story.

I never thought that I'd be recommending Stephen King twice in one year, but I do highly recommend this book. It's a wonderful read that is constantly engaging. Not much filler in here. My only complaints are that not enough closure is gained at the end (for me anyway), and we're never told about who or what created the pulse in the first place, though we can assume that it was a terrorist attack. Maybe a follow-up short story would be nice. Give it a shot, it's great.

One more interesting piece of knowledge - at the end of the book, it is announced that Stephen King does not own a cell phone.

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