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The Cell

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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? That's what happens on page six of King's latest, a glib, technophobic but compelling look at the end of civilization-or at what may turn into a new, extreme, telepathically enforced fascism. Those who are not on a call at the time of the pulse (and who don't reach for their phones to find out what is going on) remain "normies." One such is Clayton Riddell, an illustrator from Kent Pond, Maine, who has just sold some work in Boston when the pulse hits. Clay's single-minded attempt to get back to Maine, where his estranged wife, Sharon, and young son, Johnny-Gee, may or may not have been turned into "phoners" (as those who have had their brains wiped by the pulse come to be called) comprises the rest of the plot. King's imagining of what is more or less post-Armageddon Boston is rich, and the sociological asides made by his characters along the way-Clay travels at first with two other refugees-are jaunty and witty. The novel's three long set pieces are all pretty gory, but not gratuitously so, and the book holds together in signature King style. Fans will be satisfied and will look forward to the next King release, Lisey's Story, slated for October. (Jan. 24) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

King (The Colorado Kid) has an ax to grind and he employs the tools of his trade to accomplish the task. Clayton Riddell is in Boston to meet with publishers in hopes of selling his graphic novel series. Portfolio in hand, success within reach, Clay stops to watch the people flocking around a Mister Softee truck. Within moments the world is changed as a mysterious signal reaches cell phone users, turning them into zombies. Clay, who is cell-less (like King himself), soon teams up with others who have eluded the evil transmission. They embark on a quest to save themselves from the violence and destruction wrought by the changed beings who once owned cell phones. Using the familiar streets of Boston and introducing Riddell minutes before the catastrophe occurs circumvents the need for the strong setting and character development found in the bulk of King's work. Though the lack of these elements weakens the less-than-subtle message woven into the tale, King fans will, no doubt, want to read for themselves.-Nancy McNicol, Ora Mason Branch Lib., West Haven, CT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"Stephen King has your number...." -- USA Today "A're utterly at the mercy of a master storyteller." -- Chicago Tribune

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