These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


i finished reading stephen king's new book "cell" yesterday. it was a quick read and one of his shorter books (compared to his mammonth "the stand" and "it").

i talked to a friend at work andhe finished the book last week. he described it as a cross between "the stand" and the lengthy short story "the mist." in that conversation, i said i would grade the book a B-.

(spoiler coming up. don't read further. that meansyou dawn.).
the book is about cell phones going nuts. there is someting called "the pulse." it occurred one day while people were using their phones and it continued. so anyone using their phones had their hardware/software corrupted and they sort of turned into zomblie-like creatures.
the book takes place in boston with the main protagonist (clay) there on a business trip from maine to sell his comic strip idea. he leaves his middle-school age kid and wife in maine. he, tom (a gay man) and alice (a teeen) try to make their way back north. they meet other "normies" on the way. at a spot in new hampshire they burn a football field full o them them, marking them as insane. everyone, both the phonies (zombies) and normies, ignore them.
one of the them in the group figures out someone put a pulse going on in cell phones that did this. and so on and so on.

i concur with my friend that the book is sort of divided in half. there's a distinct place in the book where things are going one way, very zomblie-movie like and then things change to some sort of weird cyber/telepathic thing.

it was very much like "the stand" because the pulse was like a plague that struck and you had these groups of people walking around trying to find life afterward. it was also like "the mist" because clay had his wife and kid back home and he wanted to find them no matter what.

while interesting, both in idea and style, i wasn't enamored of the book. i guess i didnt' find some of the things believeable. i know it's fictuion, but even in fiction i find things that can happen, even if they're far-fetched.

the language was something i had an issue with . alice, and even jordan, both youngsters, using fuck this and that in some of their dialogue. that just doesn't happen. i know kids cuss up a storm but it was used in ways and during certain times i didn't find it appropriate. it's almos like cussing for the sake of cussing. i know it's lame but that's how i feel.

the ending was uprupt, too. i wanted to know if the cell phone idea worked on clay's kid to bring him back from zombie land. we'll never know.

how about jordan, only an adolescent, knowing as much about computers as someone who's been working on them for 10 or 15 years. i found it far-fetched.

and, finally, when king writes in that alice, a 15-year-old girl, was the leader of the group, i cringed. yes, youngsters can be leaders, but in this case i thought it was crap, not believeable at al.

i also think king used a little of the borg from star trek: next generation since the group of phonies had telepathy and had collective thoughts. they had one guy, the raggedy man, s their spokesperson.

the book was ok, but not one of king's stronger books. "cell" is no "'salem's lot," "the shining" or "the stand." but it made for interesting reading.

one of the things i liked was near the end king used charley the choo-choo as the name of a ride at the fairgrounds. that is, of course, a throwback to the same character in his dark tower series. i do like when king brings people, titles or other things from one book to another.


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