The Cell: Review

This is something completely different. A review of a book.


In 2005, the King of Authors, Stephen King wrote the biggest pile of toilet paper I have ever read, and I’m a Creative Writing Major, so I read a lot. Cell is full of broken promises and a wandering plot. Clayton Riddell is a graphic artist visiting Boston to get his first book deal. At 3:03pm, the “Pulse” blasts everyone else’s brain into jelly, then turns them into ravenous zombies. Clayton needs to find his way home in Maine to find his kid, who he left with his ex-wife, all before the child gets turned into a brain-dead beast.

Admittedly, the opening section of the novel is amazing. It reads like the best of the Zombie Apocalypse genre. From page one to where Clayton and his companions get out of downtown Boston, tension rises and the threat Clayton might die is real. He doesn’t know who to trust but must trust someone.

Despite the initial promise, this story is not meant to be a Zombie Apocalypse. The author meant the novel to be a psychological horror; the first broken promise of Mr. King. Once the first day is over, tension from the zombies disappears, never to be seen again, like the precious time it took me to read this horrid piece.

King gets nothing accurate with firearms. One: it’s called a magazine, not a clip. Two: revolvers don’t eject spent brass on their own. Three: in the United States automatic firearms are banned. Four: the AK-47 has been banned in Massachusetts since 1994. Five: even if obtained from out of state, it won’t fire thousands of rounds a second.

In addition, Clayton and his companions don’t use the looted weapons in any meaningful way. This adds another broken promise King in his Godhood doesn’t fulfill.

The Zombies develop from the standard brainless ones to something different and unique. This strategy is meant to adapt a dry trope. However, the developments of the zombie evolution into new psychic beings aren’t seen by Clayton. It’s told to him by a plethora of useless bit characters, all of whom exist to tell Clayton one fact, and to never be seen again.

The last major issue in this crap-tastrophe is Clayton’s kid. Throughout the novel, Clayton yearns to find him, but he doesn’t try to get home. He wanders around the countryside getting sidetracked. Spoiler, the reader isn’t introduced to the boy until the very end of the novel.

Why is this strategy an issue? There is no tension generated with the kid. He’s just a name repeated. If Emperor King had put one tiny scene at the start of the novel, introducing the reader to Clayton, his ex-wife, and his kid playing on a cellphone, then there would be tension, a plot worth reading and forgiveness for the other sins. If he had done all that, I wouldn’t have thrown this book across the room and off my balcony, before going outside to retrieve it as it was assigned reading for a class.