What are the three things you would never leave home without? Your keys, your ID, and most definitely your cell phone. King notes this common question in his 2006 novel “Cell” and makes you wish you would leave it home – when it truly mattered. Luckily for Clayton Riddell, the starving Bostonian artist could not afford one becomes our antagonistic lead character is this story of cellular chaos.
King begins with Riddell reminiscing of the past while gazing at the park goers who are with their significant others and their children. Catching a big break and landing a job at a will known comic book Company, he has strong hopes in reconciling with his estranged wife and son. To celebrate, he felt that he’d treat himself and wait on a rather short but slow line at a Boston Common ice cream truck and this is when the madness begins.
Somewhere, someone releases a pulsating signal that turns anyone who uses a cell phone into a stark raving maniac and Riddell is the dead center of an uprising. Cars are crashing, “the phoners” are hacking whoever’s closest to them to death, biting, spitting, super-human strength….sounds familiar? If so, then you know that the rest of this novel is a violent zombie thriller, which the main characters soul objective is to get to his family if they didn’t become part of the “phoner” madness.
King’s attempt at writing a zombie story was I felt at little weak. I was left at the end with nothing, feeling as though if there was a continuation it wouldn’t make any sense at all. My sense of style in this fashion of the macabre would have been greatly satisfied if all and not some of the secondary characters died. That’s right, I said it. It held the premise of all zombie-like situations; such as ‘how did this happen?’ and ‘how can they be stopped?’ But King created a loop hole, throwing out all the redundancies and giving them telekinetic powers. Wow, good one. Like we’ve never seen that before (Carrie, Dreamcatcher, the list goes on). I, as a writer, know that you have to have some kind of niche, he definitely has that but mixing it up doesn't hurt either.
Immediately the story turns for the obvious, as strong willed as Riddell is, he sets off to find the people whom he cared for the most, parting from his friends and a few drifters. All in all, I felt this book could have been better. The dialogue was weak; the characters had no character, the zombies; though terrifying became tame too quickly, and the Altoids plug was made in extremely bad comedic taste. My recommendation is to wait for the movie, but lets just hope Eli Roth doesn’t muck it up anymore than it already is.