Stephen King does zombies! Well...kind of. We'll get to that in a bit.
How I think this book came about (that means this next part is 100% fictitious):
back in aught-6 (2006), or just before because Cell was published in
'06, but who knows with King, am I right? But anyway, we've come a long
way since that time. Everyone was getting cell phones and they were just
about getting to every last person around. I imagine him having this
conversation with, let's say, his son, Joe Hill.
Stephen: "Wow, cell phones have really gotten popular lately. Everyone seems to have one."
Joe: "Yeah Dad, come on, get with the times already, man."
"Well, at least we'll never get rid of these landlines right? Both are
VERY necessary. [useless joke probably not in King's character, just
wanted to make fun of how we used to still had landlines when everyone
was switching to cell phones]
"But seriously, I am SO sick of
people being on their cell phones all the time. You can't even have an
honest-to-goodness conversation with a person without someone bombarding
you with a call.
"Can't we just have real conversations with
human beings anymore? Instead, we talk to electronics and let them
control everything we do, sacrificing our humanity.
"If only there was a way to put an end to this nonsense...I've got it!"
Cell [US] [UK]
starts out as your basic zombie book. People are going about their
normal business when suddenly lots of people start going crazy and
attacking other people while a few people escape unscathed for a while
until they get attacked.
Well, Stephen King made a couple of
changes to the normal zombie mythos (I think we can call it mythos now).
Here, the zombies are created by a pulse that occurs through cell
phones. All the people using their cell phones at the time of the
"pulse" (as its known throughout the book) are immediately changed into
what is essentially a zombie. Those without cell phones or not on them
at the time are saved.
It's not exactly clear whether they are
(or have to be) dead or not, some are, but not all, but they all have
the same traits, which are pretty zombie-like. They go crazy, they
attack people including their own kind, and make survival the number one
priority for those who weren't turned.
They are known throughout
the book not at zombies, but as "phone crazies." Boy did I hate that
term after a while. It's just so dumb. It's also descriptively
appropriate, but meh. Call them walkers, call them phoners even, but
"phone crazies" just bugged me to no end.
In addition, the zombies only come out during the day and therefore leave the night to the survivors.
follows Clayton Riddell, a survivor of the pulse who happened to be in
Boston at the time of the "pulse." He lives in (you guessed it) Maine
(but he's not a writer, he's a comic artist, completely different because they do "graphic" novels),
which is where his family is located at the time of the pulse and
provides the impetus for Clay and his group of survivors to head north.
did enjoy this book, but to talk about why I didn't enjoy it enough to
even reach the 4 star threshold, I'm gonna have to get into some spoilers.
These aren't huge, ruin-the-book spoilers, just possibly ruin a part of
the first 200 pages/quarter of the book. You've been warned.
/Begin mild spoilers
could go more into Clay's group because they do play a large role in
the novel, but I just don't have the time nor the energy at the moment.
Know they're there and they are some great characters.
I wasn't a huge fan of this particular zombie book is that King almost
immediately kills the whole reason I read zombie books. I read them for
the constant suspense and scare that the people we've grown close to are
going to get eaten, turned, die, whatever.
King introduces telepathy into the zombie mythos.
it's an interesting and unique take, I realized toward the end that it
pretty much killed this particular zombie novel for me.
the zombie apocalypse occurred through the pulse, the phone crazies
(bleh) are connected somehow, they can even communicate in a way
telepathically. It begins through large gatherings where they sleep
during the night while getting essentially reprogrammed telepathically.
they are communicating telepathically, they begin to flock just like
some types of animals (birds in a "v" for instance). While they flock,
they don't attack humans. It just stops.
There's more that
happens and they do begin to do some much more devious things, but the
survivors, and especially our little crew we follow, are essentially
immune from the day-to-day zombie attack.
Bigger Spoiler and for the novel I Am Legend
as well: While I'm still within the spoiler section of my review, I
also wanted to add that I totally thought he was going to go I Am Legend
with the zombies, making the zombies the new society and the survivors
the outcasts. It seemed to be going there, but didn't in the end.
/end mild spoilers
enjoyed this book, it had great characters (as expected) and a good
enough story to keep me enjoying it. It also had an interesting take on
zombies that, while I applaud King for his creativity and boldness, kind
of killed the zombie part of this zombie novel.
3 out of 5 Stars (Recommended with reservations)
Interview with Author Lee Thompson
23 hours ago