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Book Review: Cell by Stephen King

cell by stephen kingCell by Stephen King has one of the greatest, most frantic beginnings I’ve ever read in a horror story. This is actually true of a lot of books by Stephen King.  And I think this is one of the things Mr. King does best–starting out with a bang, so it’s saying something for me to elevate the first 40 pages of Cell above many of his other great starts. The final third of the book was not nearly as enjoyable for me, and the middle was good, but not great. But I remain a huge fan and will continue to read everything the madman from Maine writes.

One piece of exciting news I’ve heard in the last year is that Cell might become a Stephen King movie. I think many of the things that did not work for me in the book might work well in a screenplay. But enough of that, here’s what this book is about:

Plot summary of Cell

A man is going about his day, just like everyone else in the city, when an event later named The Pulse takes place. Everyone who is talking on a cell phone at the moment of The Pulse is suddenly transformed into a raging lunatic. They reminded me of the zombies in the film 28 days later. Fast, frantic, brainless, and deadly. Just like that the man is plunged into a fight for survival, along with the rest of the world who had taken a break from their mobiles at just the right time.

The man meets other characters and they form a band that will start out on a trek across a changed America. As I mentioned in my book review of Desperation, I think Stephen King is very good at introducing the characters, helping them bond, and sending them off on their trip. It sort of reminds me of the superhero movies where there are the obligatory scene in which each character gets to demonstrate or explain their power and how they will benefit the group.

I won’t tell you exactly where the crew in Cell is headed, because I don’t want to spoil it, but also because I find it one of the weaker quests in Stephen King’s works. There is a bad guy named the Raggedy Man who reminded me a lot of Randall Flagg from The Stand, but only about ten percent as cool or scary.

Bottom line: if you like apocalypse fiction or dystopian literature, you’re going to find something to enjoy in Cell. And if you don’t want to chance beginning a book that you might not want to finish, take it from me: just read the first 50 pages and then put it down!

One final note: this book contains what may very well by the worst final line in all of literature.


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