Hello everyone and welcome to a brand new edition of Lil Red’s Book Club! I have been on a huge Stephen King kick as of late and there was no better time than the present to reread one of my all time favorites – Cell. This is probably the sixth or seventh time that I have read this book and it truly never gets old. In fact, it has been several years since I have read it and some parts that I had somewhat forgotten left me SHOOK. As always, we will be discussing Cell with no spoilers and before we begin, I will be placing a trigger warning on this book for intense violence, disturbing content, and suicide. Now, let’s get to it:
Clay Riddell is having a great day as he steps outside to a sunny Boston afternoon with his portfolio in hand. Actually, scratch that. He is having an excellent day because he just sold not one but two volumes of his graphic novel series, The Dark Wanderer. In his other hand he has bags of gifts for his wife, despite being separated at the time, and their beloved son, Johnny. Clay decides he could use a treat too and stops for an ice cream cone. Then, The Pulse begins.
In what feels like an eternity but is only a matter of minutes, the streets of Boston break out in extraordinary violence and the people committing the acts seem plain crazy. Havoc ensues with planes crashing, fires burning, and Duck Boats being driven into the streets. From Clay’s post at the ice cream truck, he notices that every single person going bonkers had just been using a cell phone. In his mind, Clay thanks his lucky stars that he refuses to own one and also knows that he needs to find shelter and fast.
As he tries to avoid the chaos from the murderous, frenzied phone-crazies, Clay runs into Tom. The two men seek sanctuary in Clay’s step above a fleabag hotel and watch from the windows as The Pulse continues. During this period, Clay and Tom also bring fifteen year old Alice who is being chased by a phone-crazy into the hotel. Little do they know that they will be forming a three person crew fighting against the end of the world.
Kind Tom, panicked Alice, and straight to the point Clay know that they need to make a move before Boston burns to the ground. As darkness falls and the streets clear of the crazies, they begin their trek to Vermont because Clay has bigger problems on his mind. His son owns a cell phone. But first, they decide to stop at Tom’s house for provisions. During their trip on foot, they notice that the phoners have all but disappeared at night and quickly become savvy that the day now belongs to them.
Once supplies are secured and weapons are acquired from Tom’s neighbor, they post up for the day in his home and begin to notice the flocking. Seemingly out of nowhere, the phoners begin to fill the streets and pack it like sardines in their strange, violent trance, always heading north. The crew can’t quite put their finger on it but the crazies are evolving somehow. For example, they are using items as a tool to open garden pumpkins to munch on. Clay, Tom, and Alice don’t like it one bit.
The weary wanderer’s nighttime travels bring them to Gaiten Academy where they link up with The Head and his very last pupil, Jordan. The relative safety of the academy seems to disappear before their very eyes when they learn that a massive flock of phoners have been sleeping on the soccer field. With nothing else to do but try, they develop a plan. They are going to destroy the flock. And they do – but not without repercussion.
In all of their dreams that night, they are visited by “The Raggedy Man” and are placed on pedestals while a crowd of phoners call them crazy. But not with their mouths – with their minds. Oh yes, they have telepathic powers and made it known by forcing The Head to kill himself. After burying The Head, the flock killers move onward with Jordan in tow and begin to notice spray painted signs on the street saying “KASHWAK = NO-FO”. And, it’s true. Kashwak is a dead zone.
Could the normies live peacefully there as the phoners rule the world? Will Clay find his son there? There’s only one way to find out. In their guts, they know it’s a bad idea to go to Kashwak and their dreams confirm it. It seems to be a conversion point where the remaining normies will be transformed to phone-crazies. However, they don’t have much of a choice when the telepathic force of the phoners continue to push them forward. Will any normies live to tell the tale? Read Cell to find out!
I don’t know what it is about Cell but it has never failed to blow my mind. This book is terrifying for the simple reason that almost every single person over the age of eight seems to have a cell phone nowadays. Stephen King targeted this item that no one really thinks about anymore and turned it into the ultimate weapon. This device that we always have in our pocket or purse could burn the world to the ground in King’s eyes and it’s so wild to read the story as it unfolds.
After reading this book countless times, the characters are so cherished by me and I love them all so much. They also showcase the humor that King incorporates into his books that I can’t get enough of. Wry Clay, sassy Tom, too cute Alice, and smart-alek Jordan all showcase different sides of King and the ragtag crew still manages to shine a bright light in so much darkness.
Feeling like I know each of these characters personally after reading their tale so many times only enhances the reading experience. The situation in Cell is crazy but reading it happen with the eyes of reading about old friends adds to the urgency and terror tenfold. Because of this, there were scenes that I was simply gutted by despite knowing what was going to happen in advance. In fact, I daresay it’s even better the seventh time around!
I am going to award Cell with the coveted ten out of ten star rating. This is hands down one of the best Stephen King books in my humble opinion and if you are a horror fan, I think you’ll like it just as much as me. If not, then you can definitely skip on Cell!
What is your favorite Stephen King book? What should I read next? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah