An event, the Pulse, hits the world and throws it into mayhem. Everyone using a mobile phone at the time (or afterwards) is affected and the majority of those attack each other and the normal people left behind. The streets aren’t a safe place to wander and locking yourself up in a secure house might be the one thing that keeps you alive, at least in the beginning.
We pick up the story of Cell just before the Pulse with Clay, your average guy who has just hit lucky with his comic book art work. As he wanders through the streets he lets his mind wander until the cell’s start ringing and people start going crazy. Horrified at what is going on he deals remarkably well with the situation and manages to help where he can. As things get worse he hopes that his son, left with his mother back home, is okay – after all, he does have his own little cell phone. With his mind set on this, Clay does the only thing a parent would do in this situation and make his way all that distance back to him, regardless of what he might find.
I quite enjoyed Cell with it’s first few chapters of zombie like action and horror before it changes to a more science fiction based plot point that hovers just beneath the surface. The story takes us on a journey through the city before heading to the highways and roads strewn with abandoned cars and the ‘normies’ left over walking along them – King does a rather good job at presenting a realistic situation here.
The story is split into sections, each reading similar to a short story but using the previous information as it’s basis. It was nice to read like this as it broke the book up into more managable sections. Although the story is told through Clay’s eyes you can still see the bigger picture of the events going on, perhaps not quite as much as I would have liked though. The story is mostly told outside of the large towns and cities and the feeling of living in constant fear doesn’t come across as well as it should in places.
The first section when the Pulse hits is misleading to an extent. I expected an apocalyptic zombie-like story where the main characters were doing their best to outrun and hide from the hoards of ‘phoners’ after them. What I got was a story that starts off rough and refines itself with the revelations that come throughout the book. You may ask why I’m not being more specific – well, I just don’t want to give the story away. If I went into Cell knowing what to expect it would have taken half the fun out of it and I doubt I would have enjoyed it anywhere near as much as I did.
Stephen King has written a decent little story here, and although not to everyone’s taste, it is enjoyable. I didn’t expect too much from it and felt satisfied when it was over. It’s not going to be up there with my best reads, but I don’t feel like I wasted my time in reading it. If it’s on your shelf and you’ve nothing better to read, then pick it up, but if you’ve something better sitting there…