Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

'Cell' by Stephen King (1 Viewer)

FloridaJay

Senior Member
Now I'm usually not one to review a book other than to say "I liked it" or "It was okay" to someone who asks. This time, after becoming somewhat of a novice writer, I see what I read differently - or rather, from the point of view of a writer.

Normally I see Stephen King's work as the best there is, and this time is no different. He knows what he's doing. His words are seemingly the right ones and his sentences are excellently built - in my opinion that is. Now, having written that, here's my review of his latest book Cell:

(Did I mention this is my first review ever?)


Synopsis: It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine. Not really, especially if I believe that the use of a cell phone will bring about the end of civilization as we know it. On one sunny October day a Pulse is sent through cell phones and wreaks havoc on the minds of phone users everywhere. Violence is the name of the game and it's up to small groups of normal humans to survive and protect the species. Not an easy thing to do when everywhere you turn there are loved ones, family members, and neighbors out wandering the streets in search of blood. The story centers on Clay and his band of wanderers as they try to survive, travelling to the north to find a mythical land without cellphone coverage.

Not the best synopsis, but hey, it's my first. Basically it's the apocolypse again and bad stuff happens to good people. The book is of course very well written. It is a page turner. Early on I was very intrigued by what was happened and really interested in finding out why it happened. Halfway through the book I realized thankfully it wasn't another alien invasion story or devil in jeans kind of thing. But I was disappointed in some of the characters, in that everyone (the normal main characters) in this book was super-intelligent. The older folks and the younger folks, the teens and the middle-agers all thought pretty much the same way. Each one, whether they actually did or not, seemed to be University graduates with 4.0 GPAs. Ignorance was not prevalant in this make-believe world. Everyone understood everything, no matter how fantastic or mundane the subject. To me this is far from realistic. In the real world, everyone doesn't think on the same level, there is ignorance and cluelessness. Not everyone has intellectual prowess. In this book they do. Each person knows what every other person knows, that is to say everyone seemed to have a 220 IQ. Not alot of guesswork on anyone's part. That's not the real world by a long shot. That's the only real problem I had with this book, that and it seems to me that each one of King's main heroes (in any book, for that matter, where the male is the lead) are cookie cut from the same middle-aged/writer/smart/same fears,same desires. The book was good, don't get me wrong, and I liked it for the most part. But now that I'm working on characters and plots and whatnot of my own...Maybe I expect too much since I think I need to put realism in my stories.

In a nutshell, this is a good story by a good author. I hope to half that good by the time I actually publish something. I'd suggest you read Cell and not get hung up on the minor flaws I found. You'll have a good time if you do.

This review was hastily written on my lunch-break (right after finishing the last page of the book).
 
Last edited:

Janelle_34

Senior Member
I just got this book.. I don't read his work, I scare myself. OF course, when I do I usually put the books in the freezer, don't ask! So I am excited.. ITs funny in the last of the book, it says. Stephen King does not own a cell phone~
 

Saraneth

Senior Member
I read the first two chapters and I have to say that I wasn't entirely impressed with Mr. King's narrative. I felt that the pop culture references were thrown in too carelessly, and that I didn't "feel" enough for the main character.

I found the entire thing laughable. Maybe I should read it again? Or the rest of the book, for that matter...
 

FloridaJay

Senior Member
You're absolutely correct about his overuse of pop americana. I thought maybe that was done on purpose, to reflect the times, because it's slackens up a bit after the violence dies down. He did try to shove every bit of commercialism he could find in the beginning. I thinks that's his thing, it didn't bother me so much until this book. Ah well, it's still an interesting and well-written story.
 

Kane

Senior Member
Many people do, Connor. The hatred of cliche is something I've only seen here and a few other select places where people fancy themselves original writers. Funny how I hear the anti-cliche sentiment mostly from unpublished "authors," though.
 

Mike C

WF Veterans
Kane said:
Funny how I hear the anti-cliche sentiment mostly from unpublished "authors," though.

I guess you don't get to speak to many published authors then, Kane.

"Cell has plenty of gross-out moments and ascends to the level of horror more than once, but it never reaches true terror, let alone the heights achieved by King's best work. While it is a solid, entertaining read, I'm afraid we will need to wait a bit longer for that Great American Zombie Novel."

George R R Martin, Washington Post

"But once the pyrotechnics of The Pulse are over and the exodus from Boston begins, much of "Cell" is a literal trudge.

The cell-from-hell premise gives this story an instantly powerful hook. But there are times when the book threatens to become all hook and no fish. Though "Cell" is not unduly long, it moves slowly and somewhat repetitively along its highway of horrors. "

Janet Maslin, New York Times
 

FloridaJay

Senior Member
I love this quote, it fits perfectly here I think:

Brendan Behan said:
Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how its done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves.

Seriously, you can't knock S. King too much, he's a successful author, novelist, etc. Whereas we are...
 

Kane

Senior Member
No, I don't Mike, but I'm sure you speak to published authors all the time, by the tone of your reply. Why you used the examples you did, I do not know, since none of them mentions cliche at all.
 

Mike C

WF Veterans
I guess the point is, Kane, you only hear wannabes criticising because (a) that's who you mix with (no slur intended on anyone here), so that's the only opinion you hear, and (b) readers don't, by and large, go around posting "I think King is cliché ridden" posts on readers websites.

Part with the cash necessary to join one of the pro-oriented boards and you'll see plenty of published (not self published) writers expressing similar opinions.

King's gift is that he can pile cliché upon cliché (and even you can't tell me that an apocalypse novel isn't a cliché, nor one about zombies, nor the self-referential writer as MC... Jesus, he's already covered 2 out of the 3 himself before!) and still have his fans lap it up. He sells a lot of books. He's arguably long past his peak, but he's still selling books.
 

FloridaJay

Senior Member
Mike C said:
He's arguably long past his peak, but he's still selling books.

Yes, I'll argue that point with you. Agreed that Mr. King seems to be running out of ideas (From a Buick 8 and Christine, weird cars; The Stand and Cell, apocalypse now) but he still has the knack for telling a story. His well-placed and paced words guide you along on a journey through darkness and light. There is always hope mixed with pain and glory mixed with sadness. So what if his characters are photocopies of his previous heroes and heroines, it's all good fun. I'll continue to read what he puts out there because I know Mr. King will take me on a wild and imaginitive ride and maybe teach me a little about writing along the way:D
 

Stewart

Senior Member
FloridaJay said:
Agreed that Mr. King seems to be running out of ideas (From a Buick 8 and Christine, weird cars;

And both set in Pennsylvania, no less. And let's not forget Trucks from Night Shift which he expanded upon and directed as Maximum Overdrive. His lack of ideas was successfully spoofed on an episode of The Simpsons, when he started making crap up on the spot e.g. haunted stapler

So what if his characters are photocopies of his previous heroes and heroines, it's all good fun.

I've not a problem with that. He's made his money and rather than be prolific I'd like to see him take time out and try and write something that will last. He's shown he can flip between genre - with varied success - but for all his championing of literary greats he takes little from them. I think the first post on this thread does a good job of summing up my thoughts on Stephen King.

I'll continue to read what he puts out there because I know Mr. King will take me on a wild and imaginitive ride...

May I ask...do you read other horror fiction? If so, who?

...and maybe teach me a little about writing along the way:D

I seriously doubt that. From the post linked to above, here's a quote taken from the Afterword of Stephen King's Different Seasons:

[M]y stuff ... is fairly plain, not very literary, and sometimes (though it hurts like hell to admit it) downright clumsy. To some degree or other, I would guess that those very qualities - unadmirable though they may be - have been responsible for the success of my novels. Most of them have been plain fiction for plain folks, the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and large fries from McDonald's. I am able to recognise elegant prose and to respond to it, but have found it difficult or impossible to write it myself.

What could you hope to learn?
 

Mike C

WF Veterans
Stephen King said:
Most of them have been plain fiction for plain folks, the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and large fries from McDonald's.

Which is, of course, his strength. Just as soaps and sitcoms rely on repetition of familiar themes to make the viewer comfortable, King spoon-feeds us the literary equivalent of monosodium glutimate. There's nothing wrong with that; just don't confuse McD's with a gourmet meal; King himself admits he'll never be able to serve up one of those.

FloridaJay said:
His well-placed and paced words guide you along on a journey through darkness and light.
Personally I thought King's earlier works - before he developed a taste for the grandiose - were better paced, but that's a matter of taste.
 

northerain

Senior Member
I found this thread to be disquieting. I can't understand how someone could claim that King's work is cliche ridden. ''The Stand'' and ''Cell'' are exactly the same huh? Because...something horrible happens to the world? Then I guess all of Tolkien's work is repeating since it's like...fantasy...with...elves...stuff. So it must be the same book all over again. Not to mention that The Stand was written in 1985, and Cell in 2006. Yes, it's obvious now, after 21 years he thought he'd capitalize on ''The stand's success and write ''Cell''.
I really don't know of any horror writers today that I like more than King.

Answering Mike C,
I'm sorry mate, but beein published means pretty much jack shit today and everyone knows that. Beeing paid in books and having to do your own promotion of your work hardly counts as beeing published. Unless these boards feauture Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Richard Laymon, Douglas Clegg or someone of that caliber, we'll just stick to writingforums.com
 

Mike C

WF Veterans
northerain said:
I found this thread to be disquieting. I can't understand how someone could claim that King's work is cliche ridden.

I suggest you look up cliché in the dictionary if you're not getting it, N.

No, not because the stand and cell are the same, but because the post-apocalypse novel has become a cliché. As are many of his themes - some of the clichés he's created himself.

Then I guess all of Tolkien's work is repeating since it's like...fantasy...with...elves...stuff.

I really don't think you understand the whole cliché thing. Tolkien's work (if you discount the mythology he based it on) was original. Fantasy has become a genre largely populated by cliché due to repetition ad infinitum.

Not to mention that The Stand was written in 1985, and Cell in 2006. Yes, it's obvious now, after 21 years he thought he'd capitalize on ''The stand's success and write ''Cell''.

Try to understand, N. Nobody suggested that King sought to cash in on The Stand because of the apocalypse thing. I made the observation that two aspects of the book he had used before (and whether you like it or not, apocalypse and having a MC who's a writer is a cliche, no matter who's writing it. I've read probably 100 or more apocalypse novels - including the stand - and many novels and probably 1000 short stories/poems witha writer as a main character).

I really don't know of any horror writers today that I like more than King.

Your perogative. But please stop taking offence, we're discussing King, not criticising you for liking him. Nobody ever said there was something wrong with liking King.

I'm sorry mate, but beein published means pretty much jack shit today and everyone knows that. Beeing paid in books and having to do your own promotion of your work hardly counts as beeing published. Unless these boards feauture Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Richard Laymon, Douglas Clegg or someone of that caliber, we'll just stick to writingforums.com

Stick wherever you like, N. When I talk about published writers I mean those that get agents, get paid an advance by publishers, get paid to write. Self/vanity publishing I do not consider published and would not refer to it as such.
 
Last edited:

Kane

Senior Member
No, not because the stand and cell are the same, but because the post-apocalypse novel has become a cliché. As are many of his themes - some of the clichés he's created himself.

If we adopt this attitude, then what is left to write about? Just about everything that someone can think about has been written about already. The written word not only covers all the ages past, modern fiction, but furturistic science fiction as well. By your definition, everything is cliche, and if cliche can be used to describe anything, then it no longer holds any real meaning, and is no longer a reason for us not to do something.
 
Top