Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Do you have a cell phone? Who doesn't? My gradparents are in their eighties and they have one (though it's rarely, if ever, turned on). We've all heard of biological warfare in which superbugs are developed to be released on a particular target, wiping out a large portion of a population. We worry about some countries who might be developing these weapons to use against the United States. But what would happen if a weapon was developed that could be disseminated through cell phones? Perhaps a pulse could be developed that, when transmitted through a cell phone, would reprogram the brain, much like a computer virus plays havoc with a hard drive. This is the premise of Stephen King's book Cell, which I read recently on the recommendation of a student. The book opens with a typical day in downtown Boston but soon the events are anything but typical as people begin to spontaneously and violently attack total strangers and drive vehicles into buildings. Clay Riddell, in Boston on business, manages to stay out of harm's way and quickly deduces that cell phones are causing the people to go crazy. Clay hooks up with a small group of others who managed to avoid the pulse and together they try to survive, figure out what is happening, and travel north in search of Clay's son. I don't read a lot of Stephen King but I did enjoy this, though it has its flaws. It has a very deliberate Night of the Living Dead feel to it and if it were made into a movie I don't think I'd care to see it. The premise is certainly terrifying in light of the prevalence of cell phones in our lives, but King leaves too many questions unanswered. On the plus side, the reader is hooked within the first few pages as the action starts quickly and abruptly. I'm not a big fan of horror but in this case, as with many of Stephen King's books, there is just enough plausibility to make the reader wonder...what if?