Cell, by Stephen King

470684The quest for another great zombie novel continues. Ever since I read World War Z, I’ve been looking out for novels that had a similar mix of terror and sociology. I’ve picked up Cell before, but got sidetracked by another book and haven’t gotten back to it for months. The premise was intriguing. Cell phone users get blasted with some kind of electronic signal that turns then into homicidal maniacs. But after the firs few chapters, the zombie factor gets replaced by some kind of sci-fi spoonbending stuff. And once the characters are no longer in constant danger for the lives, all the tension went out of the book and I had a hard time paying attention.

But what really bugged me most about this book was the dialogue. I’ve never seen this before in a King novel, because for the most part his dialogue is very naturalistic and snappy. As I read, I had a hard time caring about the characters because they didn’t sound like real people. I kept thinking over and over that people just don’t talk this way. There were too many cute little bits of wit and cultural references. Too many bon mots. There was only one character that triggered my pet peeve of speaking in paragraphs. I could forgive that one because he was an academic. But all the other characters…yeesh. Not even sit com characters are this pat.

I read King every now and then because I loved The Stand and Carrie. They were fantastic–terrifying and thought-provoking. So I give King a chance every now and then. I think I will still tackle the Dark Tower series one of these days. But King misses as often as he hits. I still haven’t made it all the way through ‘Salem’s Lot because of what King did to it, and I hated the ending of Dreamcatcher where King pulled a Shyamalan. I really don’t like it when an author takes a really good idea and messes it up.


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