Book Review: Cell by Stephen King

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It took me a lot longer to get through than I had hoped, and that is not saying I didn’t enjoy the book. It was just a rocky last couple of weeks and now I’m behind on a lot of stuff.

Cell is the only King book I have ever actually finished, and also the first book where I got through fifty pages before putting it down. I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps it has something to do with my obsession with zombies and my desire to perhaps one day write the most chilling and thrilling of zombie epics to ever grace the metaphorical screen of literature.
Having said that, Cell is not actually a ‘zombie story’ in the traditional sense. There isn’t much here that is actually cliche or common in such stories. Cell starts out setting you up with the main character–Clay. He’s an artist who has just struck a major publishing deal for his graphic novel and is on his way home to let his estranged wife and his son know that things are going to be better. Then chaos reigns. People start freaking out, biting, clawing, and killing themselves and others. Clay is caught in the middle. Here he meets Tom and together they manage to get away. From this point on it is an all out battle for survival. Clay and Tom–and Alice, a young teenage girl–set off to try to escape the fires and insane people that have consumed normal society. As time passes they realize that it wasn’t just some random event, but some sort of pulse, some sort of subliminal message that has made everyone who was listening or does listen go nuts, and, to make things far worse, they start to realize that the ‘Phonies’ are beginning to change…into something…else…

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I’m not just saying that because of my obsession with zombie stories. His writing is perfect for this. He doesn’t dawdle around on the issue, or wander in places he shouldn’t. He focuses immediately on the characters and draws you into their lives without destroying things with flashbacks and such. Half-way through the book I started to think that this would make an amazing mini-series on HBO or Showtime (not on Fox or one of those normal stations because those places tend to make series crappy after one season…and this book ends in such a point where there would HAVE to be a second season to clear up all the remaining questions).
My only problem with this novel is the way it ends. It felt to me like King didn’t really want to finish the novel. Maybe he’s going to write another to follow this. Regardless, it leaves you completely wondering whether Clay succeeded in ‘finding’ his son. Other than this, Cell is an amazing, gripping, and thrilling novel. This is the perfect novel to read when you’re home alone and in a slightly dim room where your mind can wander and make you feel like perhaps this could really happen.

Kudos to King!

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Digital Rhetoric and Writing at Bemidji State University. He received his PhD in English from the University of Florida and studies science fiction, postcolonialism, digital fan cultures, and digital rhetoric.

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