Thursday, 23 October 2014

Stephen King, "Cell" (2006)

I used to turn to Stephen King novels as 'palate cleansers', something fully to read that wouldn't tax my brain, and to give myself a break from political history books. I can't recall what the last King novel is that I read, but it was likely one from the '80s. Cell crossed by path and as it was fairly short, I thought I might as well poke my toe in the pool and see what King has been up to for the last decade or two.

As the book's title intimates, the storyline revolves around the effects a mysterious 'pulse' emitted from cellphones has on the phones' users. In a few minutes of time, the world seems to have been turned into a maelstrom of neck-biting, flesh-ripping, self-destructive peoploids, chasing each other and the as yet unaffected. The protagonist of the story has just finalized a book deal, and hopes that this change might help save his failed marriage. He is feeling like his life is turning around into something positive, when the zombie apocalypse begins.

For fans of gore and zombies, Cell is a good read. The action starts within the first few pages, and the zombies never disappear as a threat. Sloppy romanticism is kept to a minimum, although King's attempts to undermine it are a little heavy-handed. In particular, most of the efforts to establish a sustained optimism regarding familial or paternal feelings come to naught (and often end in messy death).

The book's ending is a little unsatisfying. Although I'm sure it's intended to be cliffhanger, and perhaps to leave the door open to a sequel, it smacked more of laziness to this reader. It felt like instead of resolving the plot line, King simply stopped writing, got up from his desk and said, "ah, well, that's good enough."

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