Cell by Stephen King

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From international bestseller Stephen King, a high-concept, ingenious and terrifying story about the mayhem unleashed when a pulse from a mysterious source transforms all cell phone users into homicidal maniacs.

There’s a reason cell rhymes with hell.

On October 1, God is in His heaven, the stock market stands at 10,140, most of the planes are on time, and Clayton Riddell, an artist from Maine, is almost bouncing up Boylston Street in Boston. He’s just landed a comic book deal that might finally enable him to support his family by making art instead of teaching it. He’s already picked up a small (but expensive!) gift for his long-suffering wife, and he knows just what he’ll get for his boy Johnny. Why not a little treat for himself? Clay’s feeling good about the future.

That changes in a hurry. The cause of the devastation is a phenomenon that will come to be known as The Pulse, and the delivery method is a cell phone. Everyone’s cell phone. Clay and the few desperate survivors who join him suddenly find themselves in the pitch-black night of civilization’s darkest age, surrounded by chaos, carnage, and a human horde that has been reduced to its basest nature...and then begins to evolve.

There’s really no escaping this nightmare. But for Clay, an arrow points home to Maine, and as he and his fellow refugees make their harrowing journey north they begin to see crude signs confirming their direction. A promise, perhaps. Or a threat...

There are 193 million cell phones in the United States alone. Who doesn’t have one? Stephen King’s utterly gripping, gory, and fascinating novel doesn’t just ask the question “Can you hear me now?” It answers it with a vengeance.

About Stephen King

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Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King. Joe Hill is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Heart-Shaped Box and Horns and writes an ongoing comic book series, Locke & Key. He makes lots of noise on Twitter under the handle @joe_hill.
Published January 24, 2006 by Scribner. 448 pages
Genres: Horror, Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Cell

The New York Times

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They say it pays to steer clear of one's heroes, and after reading "Cell," I can honestly admit I am scared as hell about the prospect of ever crossing paths with Stephen King.

Feb 05 2006 | Read Full Review of Cell

The New York Times

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To indicate that the author's ambitions exceed repeating himself, "Cell" ends with a facsimile of 12 handwritten passages of Mr. King's next and very different-sounding novel, "Lisey's Story," scheduled for release in October.

Jan 23 2006 | Read Full Review of Cell

Publishers Weekly

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What if a pulse sent out through cell phones turned every person using one of them into a zombie-like killing machine?

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BC Books

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If you ever read The Stand, you know King goes into great detail about the background and personality of all the characters, especially the most important participants.

Sep 06 2006 | Read Full Review of Cell

BC Books

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I have a hard time describing my reading tastes without being too vague — contemporary fiction — or too pretentious — literary fiction — and neither encompasses the spectrum of what I choose to read, which is often not contemporary, literary, or fiction.

Apr 18 2006 | Read Full Review of Cell

BC Books

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The last time Stephen King wrote a novel about the end of the world, there was a certain "niceness" about it, subject matter aside of course.

May 12 2006 | Read Full Review of Cell

BC Books

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I always get wound up on word of a new Stephen King novel, and he seldom disappoints.

Feb 18 2006 | Read Full Review of Cell

BC Books

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Cell is fast-moving, relatively compact (it doesn't suffer from the excessive bloat that's marred some of King's novels), and in the end, it's a vision haunting enough to stick with you.

Jan 26 2006 | Read Full Review of Cell

BC Books

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More than half of Cell is about Clayton and the people he teams up with making their way from place to place, town to town, and almost everything that you could care about knowing you can be damn assured King lets you know about before we move on to the next location.

Mar 18 2010 | Read Full Review of Cell


Clay soon links up with two others who have never owned a cell phone: a middle-aged gay man named Tom McCourt and a teen girl, Alice.

Dec 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Cell

Book Reporter

CELL jumps right out of the gate with carnage and brutality, all based on a singular premise: on and after a particular moment, which becomes known as "The Pulse," everyone talking on a cell phone gets their brain fried.

Nov 21 2006 | Read Full Review of Cell

AV Club

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In Cell, King gives himself a big canvas, drawing on images of 9/11 and Katrina as his characters traipse through a civilization that's collapsed in a convulsive shock, then begun rebuilding itself as something more monstrous.

Feb 08 2006 | Read Full Review of Cell

Suite 101

We humans may not be able to put up a fight against the Great Old One, but maybe some fictional characters could give old squid-face a run for its money.

Jun 24 2010 | Read Full Review of Cell

USA Today

Sick and tired of having to endure other people's dreary, long-winded, one-sided cellphone calls?Stephen King has a text message for you, and he's sending it through "the devil's intercom."Cell, the horror master's latest tale of a world gone wrong, is for anyone who has ever wished that the pers...

Feb 02 2006 | Read Full Review of Cell


Actually, it ends with a “pulse”—an errant cell phone signal that wipes away the user’s humanity, ‘rebooting’ their brain back to something basic… primordial… and evil.

Feb 09 2006 | Read Full Review of Cell

Seattle PI

This is how Stephen King's post-apocalyptic, techno-phobe novel Cell begins.

Apr 26 2011 | Read Full Review of Cell

Monsters and Critics

It would be difficult to imagine what a frightening landscape would look like today if it wasn't filled with the living dead (Romero) or a nuclear post-apocalyptic nightmare (Matheson), two elements which King uses to craft his latest novel set in a world populated by cell phones.

Feb 25 2006 | Read Full Review of Cell

Horror News Net

Our story follows a New England artist, Clayton Riddell and his journey to find his family after an ominous broadcast signal has infected cell phone users turning them into ravenous, carnivorous animals.

Nov 05 2012 | Read Full Review of Cell

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Michael Manley 18 Aug 2013

Rated the book as 3.5 out of 5