Cell

book coverCell by Stephen King
The blurb on the back claims that King is the greatest storyteller ever. Oh no he’s not. Not on the evidence of this, anyway. I can instantly come up with the names of at least three other authors whose plotting and characterisation are consistently superior to this. (OK, the three are Robert Goddard, Dick Francis and Gerald Seymour).
King’s early stuff was brilliant – I remember sitting up all night reading The Shining – but it looks like he is getting seriously bored with cranking out a novel every year. so bored, in fact, he’s starting to recycle plots and themes.
In this book, the majority of humans are wiped out by a kind of neural virus transmitted through mobile phones – their brains are instantly “wiped” and they revert to bestiality. The hero bands together with a few other survivors and searches for his son, who may or may not have survived. These survivors have telepathic dreams that feature an evil super-villain and directs them to a place.
This echoes the plot of one of King’s earliest novels, The Stand, where most of humanity as been wiped out by a virus (a flu virus this time, and, incidentally a plot idea blatantly ripped off from a British TV series) and there is a handful of survivors banding together, experiencing telepathic dreams involving etc. etc. But at least this new book is only about a fifth of the length of The Stand. 🙂
I can see Cell being made into a movie – it’s highly visual. The hero is a graphic artist who draws comics and there are scenes where he imagines the action in terms of a graphic novel; so I think I can safely predict that this will also come out in graphic novel form eventually.
I also predict that this is the first book of a series; first, the ending is left wide open and second, there’s aso a quite large plot hole that no competant writer could leave in accidentally, and which will presumably be filled in a sequel.
There are echoes of his Dark Tower series here, though I could only get about a third of the way through the first book in that series and didn’t feel at all inclined to try any of the others. That’s because of my main complaint about King’s work – it’s just too bloody and gory. Reading though Cell, I got the impression that he was throwing in buckets of blood because his readers are expecting it, and also because it hides quite a lot of weakness in the writing. Without the gore, he would have to write far more descriptively.