Book Review: Cell by Stephen King

I’ve seen the movie version of this, so I knew what this was about and there was a risk of it being “old man fears technology” but it’s actually a very well done and clever thriller, with King showing his skills at building tension and a sense of growing unease.

The plot is simple, while in Boston for business artist Clay witnesses “the Pulse” an event that sends a message through every mobile phone turning the owner into vicious, violent maniacs. Clay hooks up with a bunch of survivors and they decide to get the hell out of town, with Clay determined to travel home and find out what happened to his wife and son, who owned a mobile.

Along the way they have to avoid the “phoners”, scavenge supplies and try to survive. As time passes they begin to witness that the infected have changed, that there is flocking behaviour and the suggestion of some kind of higher brain function. With the phoners sleeping during the night, they navigate the dark and try to figure out what is happening.

What I liked about this book is that it kicks off with fairly familiar zombie apocalypse tropes and settings, but King drip feeds in the differences, adding a sense of mystery and weirdness. What caused the pulse is never fully explained, and the survivors have to slowly work out how the phoners work and change.

It starts strong with bedlam breaking out in Boston, before slacking off a little before King builds and builds towards a big finish. It’s engaging and well written and once you’re hooked in, you’re hooked until the last page which ends on an interestingly ambiguous note. 8/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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