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Publisher's Summary

On October 1st, 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 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 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.

©2006 Stephen King (P)2006 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

"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...are jaunty and witty." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • 2 Stars
    262
  • 1 Stars
    126

Performance

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    1,562
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    872
  • 3 Stars
    331
  • 2 Stars
    69
  • 1 Stars
    27

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Vicki
  • Emmett, ID, USA
  • 01-27-06

Very, very compelling

Started listening to this last night. On one hand, I do have to recognize the similarity (on the surface, at least) to The Stand, The Langoliers, The Mist -- other King stories along the same general plotline. As the clock rolled by; 11pm, midnight, 1am, 2am, I was just facinated by this story. I don't know if it is the different world we live in at this time as opposed to the last time I visited the aforementioned stories (pre-9/11, I mean) or what, but I was unable to turn away from this story. The characters are very well fleshed-out (if a bit derivative) and interesting, the pacing is great, and I sat alone in the living room with moments of goosebumps, hoping my husband would not choose 2:00 in the morning to sneak up and say "Boo!" thereby giving me a heart failure. I'm not quite half-done, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the story.

The narration is superb -- a bit of voice interpretation for different characters, but just enough to differentiate, not aggravating in the least. I may be alone here, but I would have sworn (!!) the narrator was REM's Michael Stipe. I know it is not, but the cadence, accent and tone are dead-on. Maybe I'm just nostalgic for my college days.... :)

If you are a King fan or not, this is a great choice. Bear in mind this would be a NC-17 rated movie, though -- not for the fainthearted or squeamish.

46 of 50 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • chris
  • las vegas, NV, United States
  • 01-25-06

Entertained

Most will agree that new King doesn't stand up to old King. This is a little better than some of his newer stuff, but it begins to feel like other books. After writing so many novels and short stories, it's impossible to avoid that though. Personally, I enjoyed this book probably because I was in the mood for some violence and zombies. As far as the audiobook itself, I enjoyed the quality of it. I think the reader is perfect for it and has just the right tone for listening. Listen to a sample and judge for yourself though. Either way, a mildly entertaining Stephen King book is better than a lot of the mediocre crap out there.

44 of 48 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wow

Campbell Scott did a masterful job of keeping me on the edge of whatever seat I happened to be sitting while listening to King's thriller. It had me from the first word to the last. If Mr. Scott wasn't available for this book, Scott Brick is the only other voice I'd have loved to hear.

King takes one of today's icons, the cell phone, and turns cell phone owners into what many of us sometimes think of them (even if we own one). Methinks that King stuck his tongue into one of his cheeks and had fun with people who have turned the world upside down: the gal who has to blab her latest intimate news in the grocery store; the guy who is so self-important that he feels that he's the only person in the theater or concert...in other word King casts a spell on cell phone users.

I give this highly entertaining piece of King's mind six stars. It's one of the best listens I've had in the last five years.

26 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Lesley
  • Seattle, WA, United States
  • 03-09-06

Not your father's disaster book

This book starts off as a classic King "situational" disaster book: what happens if cell phones suddenly turn everyone holding them into evil zombies?

Unlike in the other books, however, the disaster is only the engine for a bigger theme: in the face of insane, violent "flock behavior," how does a person maintain his dignity, his humanity? If insanity is the majority, what can a human do to remember what is "right"?

Throughout the book, we see example after example of the "normies"--the non-zombies who had no cell phones on the crucial day--doing what they can to reinforce and maintain the light of the human spirit in the face of utter destruction. Sometimes they fail, but more often they don't. If this is what the book is truly about, I believe it fully succeeds: especially at the end.

Many of King's earlier works ended with a final confrontation, a battle royale in which one side or the other triumphed completely, with clear winners and losers. "Cell" ends differently, but in my view this is a more realistic kind of ending, given that in a disaster of these proportions, which group wins or loses is irrelevant.

What matters, "Cell" tells us, is whether we can go on as humans in the best way we know how: that's where salvation lies. I hope that King will continue to take on these bigger themes, because his writing skills, and his prose style in particular, are certainly equal to it.

Campbell Scott was a good choice for the narrator, with a dry and ironic delivery that captured King's narrative voice quite well. The production wasn't that great, especially the noticeable edits. Still, this book is well worth a listen if you're looking for something a little more complex.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • John M
  • Lafayette, CA USA
  • 06-02-08

Very Enjoyable

I read a lot of Stephen King in high school many years ago (the Stand being a particular favorite) but I got tired of the gore and moved on to other authors and genres. This is only the second King book I have listened to in audio format (Duma Key was the other). Overall it is a very enjoyable read and for me was just on the verge of the "can't get out of the car because I have to keep listening" category - perhaps not great, but very good.

In spite of the excellent storytelling, I actually almost stopped listening to it about 30% of the way through because the gore angle got a bit tiresome, but I persevered and was certainly rewarded when the story really got its footing. The bottom line is that nobody can tell a story like Stephen King and while certainly it was implausible, it was told so well you feel compelled to listen.

Unlike some other reviewers, I thought the ending was very good and appropriate. There aren't many ways to end an apocolyptic story and I thought it was quite satisfactory.

Like some of the other reviews I will agree that the editing of the audiobook was jarring at times - I have not heard anything like it with the other books I have listened to from Audible. It is not horrible, just annoying in about a half a dozen places.

Bottom line is that if you have liked other King books I think you will enjoy this one.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • colleen
  • ANCHORAGE, AK, United States
  • 05-28-12

Gave me goosebumps.

I'm not always a fan of King but this one does the trick. This is zombie done right. Realistic plot and characters. Worth your time.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Todd S
  • Littleton, CO, US
  • 02-16-06

great 'til the end

Only Stephen King can make exquisite horror from such an everday device. I couldn't stop listening- right up until the end. I was frustrated at first with the abrupt ending, but then just "wrote" my own. Well read, but had some odd tonal variations, probably from later editing.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointing Finish

I enjoy Mr. King's books, and this was no exception. The story was suspenseful and well-paced. I found myself looking forward to my next opportunity to listen!
Unfortunately, I don think I have ever been more disappointed by the ending of a book than I was by the abrupt and unsatisfying ending of this one. After 12 hours with these characters, the ending left me feeling a bit abandoned (perhaps even cheated?) by the author!

15 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I think this is a great Stephen King Novel

I had seen this book for years and for some reason never read it. It is very similar to his other books, but with a unique premise. Once you give up on some basic reality (the cellphone being able to turn you into a zombie), it's really quite entreating. It's very similar to earlier books such as The Stand, but different enough to be a good listen. I suppose I liked it even more because it starts off in Boston where I live so I could better imagine the scenes. Stephen King has better books, but if your are a King addict this will work quite fine. Ringing off now.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling Story and Interesting Characters

Any additional comments?

Like all good Stephen King books, the combination of strong storytelling and intriguing characters are the main ingredients that make Cell a must read/listen. Although the premise of the story is quite ridiculous, examining how these characters respond and adapt to their changing environment keeps the reader locked into the story. Unlike many writers, Stephen King truly allows the reader to know his characters. We are feed small portions of character revealing information scattered throughout the book rather than outright biographies. The dynamics of how an initial team of strangers develop a shared and agreed upon mission is my favorite take away from the book. Cell is much more than a pseudo zombie book (although all the killing and survival keeps you engaged) but the development of friendships within the ultimate good versus evil backdrop.
Kudos to Campbell Scott! As the narrator he delivers a even pace and more character voice range than I anticipated.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful