When Stephen King books appear, that’s a good day for me. When I can see everything he’s paying homage to, as I could in Cell, that just gives me a whole added level of appreciation. I mean, sure, he makes his dedication to Romero and Matheson in the first place, which does twitch the old notice-meter a little bit, but on top of that I’ve actually read I Am Legend since I started doing all this, and Night of the Living Dead has been one of my favorite movies for a long time indeed. Take a story that crosses them together and on top of that was written by my personal favorite storyteller, and you have a book that does not suck.
The premise could not be simpler. At 3 in the afternoon of October 1st, somebody injects a signal into the cellular satellite network, and whoever listens to a connected cellphone call from that moment forward is instantly and perhaps irrevocably changed into something… well, something violently rampaging and decidedly not human, whatever other conclusions may be drawn. The only thing remaining to do for people who managed to avoid the phones long enough to realize the cause of the instant societal breakdown is to stay off the network and to try to survive. And perhaps, to fight back.
Oh, right, so it’s also an end of the world novel. Shocking, really, that I liked it at all. King, cool references, zombie analogs, societal collapse. Things I really just can’t stand, obviously. My point is, this has been a good week, and the only reason it took so long to get through is that I’ve been savoring it, like a thing that connoisseurs of that type of thing would linger over for maximum enjoyment. The man has a big library, no mistake, but this is still easily one of his best works. Both the story and the horror of it grabbed me from the first few moments, and I never let go. …well, until I got to the last page, because it was time to read something else. But if there had been more pages, I can assure you I would be reading them. Probably later tonight rather than right now, but that’s really beside the point, don’t you think?