I finally got in a little reading last weekend! Reading is one of the things that falls off my list when I struggle to find time for everything, but I took a Saturday for myself and read Stephen King's Cell from cover to cover. What did I think? Well, as a romance author, I have to say my reactions were mixed. Artist Clayton Riddell had been in Boston negotiating a successful deal to sell his comic book project. His joy at finally hitting it big is shattered by an event called The Pulse which causes all those who were using their cell phones at the time of The Pulse to become zombies attacking and killing anyone in their way. Fortunately for Clay, he does not own a cell phone. In the panic to get out of Boston and find his way home to his wife and son in Maine, he is joined by Tom McCourt, a man he meets in the meleé immediately following The Pulse and a young girl, Alice, who they rescue from being killed by one of the “crazies.” The story follows their terrifying journey, avoiding capture—and worse—by the “crazies” who are beginning to “flock” and are led by one they call Raggedy Man as they attempt to reach Maine and a place called Kashwak which they hope will be their salvation.
This is the first Stephen King novel I've read. It's been something on my to-do list for a long while, but other than reading On Writing, I haven't delved into his writing. I've seen almost every movie version, though. :) And since I began reading the books of Jonathan Maberry (and enjoying them immensely) -- and since it was a book on hand (my daughter had a copy) -- I decided this was a good start.
The story itself, I really did love. It was exceptionally well plotted, the characterization was spot on, and the ability to make even the smallest, most repetitious actions interesting was phenomenal. King has long been lauded as a master author, but I did not realize quite how seamlessly that skill played out on the page. I didn't necessarily care about the characters immediately, but I wanted to understand what was happening to them. They were interesting, and as time went on, I found myself rooting for them, living through their eyes, feeling what they felt despite the sparsity of language.
And that was where I wavered.
I've heard it said that King abhors adjectives and adverbs. I did find them used only rarely. King's style is bare, almost more of a report than a retelling, though what he is reporting are thoughts and feelings. Descriptions aren't flowery or overstated, but the details King chooses to focus on bring the entire scene to life. They're just right. It's very interesting -- and very different than what I was used to. The romance genre doesn't work that way, and I think a romance novel written in this style would never have worked. And yet, with the subject and the genre of Cell, King's style enhanced the other elements of the story instead of taking away from them. He let us focus in on what was important, not everything around us in the story.
Oh, one caveat: Cell ends on a cliffhanger (and since there's no book two, you never find out what ultimately happens with Riddell and his son, though the state of the world itself is pretty clear at the end). I had a heads-up that this was the case before I read the story, so I was prepared for it. Others who weren't warned told me they wanted to throw the book across the room. :) Be warned ahead of time!
So, did I enjoy it? I did. Not in the way I'd expected, but I did. I will definitely try another, maybe The Stand, since they are remaking the movie version. Next, though, will probably be Lisey's Story (since I already own a copy, and since it's about a writer). But for next month, I'll be returning to romance, I think. I have to switch it up, doncha know!