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Quint has read Stephen King's new novel, CELL!!!


Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with yet another book review for you folks. Last time you saw me do one of these things I was telling you about a dragon book called TEMERAIRE (UK) aka HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON (US), from an unknown author named Naomi Navik. This time I have an early review of a book from a slightly better known author...

I'm a massive Stephen King fan. Always have been. You could even go so far as to call me a Stephen King apologist, but at the same time I'm very upfront about his work that I don't like. I ate up his books starting at the tail end of elementary school, believe it or not, where I first picked up CUJO (6th Grade). All through Jr. High and High School I was constantly reading his stuff until I ran through his whole catalogue.

I didn't like THE TOMMYKNOCKERS at all and, strangely enough, I didn't much care for CHRISTINE, a book I was sure I was going to love. That one never connected with me. But IT, THE STAND, SALEM'S LOT, THE DARK TOWER SERIES, THE TALISMAN and his short stories are still some of my favorite things I've ever read.

So, lucky for me I talked to the good people at the publicity department of Hodder & Stoughton, who are publishing King's newest work, CELL, in the UK and they sent me a book early enough to review it before it hits next Tuesday.

The early word on the book from people I know within the publishing world was pretty great. The concept could have come off as really cheesy, so I wasn't 100% convinced, but the word being so good definitely had me jonesing to read the book.

The concept is this: A pulse is sent out over the cellular airwaves. Anyone who calls someone or picks up their cell phone and is exposed to this pulse immediately becomes insanely violent. This is very much like King's stab at a zombie story. He dedicates the book to Richard Matheson and George A. Romero, if that gives you any hint at the tone of the story.

We follow an artist named Clay Riddell. He just sold his graphic novel to Dark Horse comics on a business trip to Boston. His future is looking bright, so bright he decides to stop for an ice cream cone. There's a businesswoman at the front of the line and two teenage girls directly in front of Clay. The business woman is on her cell and the teenage girls decide to call someone, the dark-haired one listening in, ear close to her friend's ear.

At an instant, those on their cells go rigid, their eyes going blank. An instant later, they jump at those unaffected around them, tearing at them with their teeth. The dark-haired teen girl who only got a second hand dose of the pulse wanders around asking where she is and who she is, ultimately smashing her own face repeatedly into a lamp-post.

That's in the opening 5 pages to the book.

From here, our main guy, Clay, quickly gathers up a pair of normal people to join him on his journey through the chaos to his estranged wife and child, a 12 year old who has a cell phone, but doesn't often use it, in Maine. In Clay's mind his son's cell phone is a ticking time bomb.

He pairs up with a man named Tom McCourt and Alice Maxwell, a teenage girl who just barely escaped her turned-crazy mother. This is our core through the story.

The book feels very much vintage King. There are elements of THE STAND (end of the world scenario, walking through ruined cities, empty roads), THE MIST (a man trying to get back to his family) and THE TALISMAN (running into weird characters on a long walk... sorry, had to make that pun).

Our trio are classic King characters. The young girl is only a notch above the breaking point with all the gore and insanity she witnesses. She clutches an infant's shoe she finds abandoned on the ground and uses it almost as a security blanket throughout the story, a comfort always close at hand. Tom is the heart of the group, a man we come to find is gay, but that is only mentioned 4 or 5 times in all 400 or so pages of the book. His orientation does not define his character, his loyalty does. Clay is the leader, the Ben Mears of the story.

This is the best non-Dark Tower novel King has come out with since DESPERATION, although I do have a particular fondness for THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON. I do think Cell is a much more successful novel on the whole, however.

The novel isn't perfect. When King tries to explain the pulse and take that next step in exploring the people who were driven mad by the signal it gets a little... stretchy, I guess. It's a bit much to accept. However, I never felt like he was pulling any cheap cards anywhere. There's no "God saves the day" moment, like in THE STAND.

The ending is pretty average King. The build up is great and the end just kind of happens, then the story goes on for another 2 chapters. I don't mind that much, myself... I feel it's something King does even in his best novels, so it's almost like a signature in his work, but I know that for some that kind of ending is like watching their family pet get socked one in the head by a stranger. They don't tend to like it much.

I do wish the novel had continued on another couple chapters, though... the very end is abrupt and, while totally fitting and expected, left me wanting a little more closure with the (surviving) characters I had come to care for.

The intensity of the gore in the book is up there. Think of the gore in DREAMCATCHER, but set in a sort of 28 DAYS LATER type zombie story. There are gunshot wounds, stabbings, eviscerations, decapitations, mutilations, animal death, explosions... you get graphic detail on each of those. I loves it.

I'd recommend this to a current King fan, a King fan that gave up on him in the '90s or just any horror fan. I think the novel would have worked a bit better without the sort of technical progression of the "phone-crazies"... if he had kept it a little more of a survival story instead of a technology-based evolution of the crazies. But that's just how I personally wanted to see it progress.

King pulled off a book that is a quick read, gives us some memorable characters and some really great gore. There's even a reference to Charlie the Choo-Choo. You can't ask for more... at least I can't.

This story will make a helluva TV mini-series... I only hope it goes to HBO or one of the other cable channels where they won't have to tone down the violence. I'd also like to see someone fresh take a stab at King... the right director could make one great mini-series out of this one, I think.

If you other constant readers pick this one up on Tuesday, be sure to leave your thoughts below. I'm curious to what the overall reaction is going to be on this one.


Readers Talkback
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  • Jan. 22, 2006, 9:17 a.m. CST

    Didn't Steve retire?

    by CeeBeeUK

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 9:34 a.m. CST

    Good job, Quint

    by jaxnnux

    But the concept is lame.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 9:43 a.m. CST

    M-O-O-N! That spells Gore!

    by mondoz2

    Just how gory is it? It's been a while since I've read it, but I recall some fairly gory bits in The Stand; but that book had so much more going on than just gore for gore's sake. Is this heavier on gore or plot? I hate excessive gore in books; you can't just cover your eyes till it's over. ;)

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 9:43 a.m. CST

    Ol' King...

    by grendelson138

    he ain't never gonna stop. At least I hope he ain't.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 10:11 a.m. CST


    by Brendon

    Did they approve that cover, I wonder? I never liked King. But I like the films of Stand By Me, The Shining, Misery, The Shawshank Redemption, etc;

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 10:12 a.m. CST

    So then it's a high tech riff on In The Mouth Of Madness bas

    by LeiaDown&FuckHer

    Still, I guess at the end of the day it's all in the execution. I don't think King is a truly great writer, but he is an entertaining one, and knows how to craft a nice page turner, so his popularity is somewhat warranted I guess. Wonder how long until the film version is announced, knowing the King behemoth the rights are probably already pre-sold.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 10:13 a.m. CST

    So, when IS this published ?

    by RobinP

    I've seen Jan 24, Feb 13 and Feb 27 mentioned on the web. Feb 27 is the date, 13th is and this coming Tuesay is over at Stephen King's official website. Clarification, anyone ?

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 10:14 a.m. CST

    Entertainment Weekly...

    by movieman742

    In the new issue they have the first two chapters of it. Probably since he is the back-page columnist. The first two chapters got me into it. I'll be picking it up on Tuesday for sure.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 10:14 a.m. CST

    Man this sounds really great

    by Bean_

    I'll wait for my library to get it.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 10:17 a.m. CST

    Publication Date...

    by movieman742

    Barnes and Noble has it being released on January 24. I'm going by that date since there is one right down the street from me.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 10:23 a.m. CST

    I fuck sheep

    by CondomWrapper

    with protection of course. this book sounds interesting.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 10:24 a.m. CST

    People on cell phones are Craaaazy!

    by Big Bad Clone

    What about a story in which people literally can't function without their cell phnes. So when the batteries die out, they die dum dum dummmmmm

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 10:38 a.m. CST

    Crazies is a damn good Romero film

    by Neosamurai85

    Full of little flaws, it's Romero satire the way a Romero fan would want. Editing is pretty fun. I can see why he and Denis Hopper get along so well. Got to put it right up their with Matin as one of his best and most underated. Peace.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 10:47 a.m. CST

    Just what I need for the Winter Blues....

    by Lain Of The Net

    I've been reading King for a long long time. The Dark Tower, The Stand are among some of the best things I've read. So yeah when this comes out and I get paid again I'm gonna go get it. I think the idea that he is retired may have resulted from some of the fatigue King admitted to having during the completion of the Tower series. For most of his life he has been a seemingly effortless writer (although writing is never effortless especially if you don't have an editor) although his direction was, prior to the Dark Tower, at his whim. I think the whole Tower thing was more of a labour for him rather than the love he has been used to. Then there is the old rumour that he has a backlog of manuscripts and ideas that are in various degrees of completion. lain

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 10:48 a.m. CST

    "This is the best non-Dark Tower novel King has come out with si

    by Randall Flagg

    Wow... I'd like to see your copy of Desperation, Quint. It must be different from mine; Desperation and Rose Madder were the ones that made me almost give up on King. They're the reasons I haven't read Bag of Bones or Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon yet. Trying to read From A Buick 8 only confirmed my suspicion that I was wasting my time reading anything other than Dark Tower at that point...

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 10:54 a.m. CST

    as soon as i read the plot synopsis for this i couldn't help

    by Holodigm

    "you're not even trying anymore are you... ... ... ... ok we'll take it"

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 10:56 a.m. CST

    oh.. and ummm.. Birdy Birdman

    by Randall Flagg

    You are being sarcastic, or just intentionally moronic sounding right? IT was written 16 years before House of Leaves was even published... and House of Leaves itself was just a horror re-working of Infinite Jest.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 10:57 a.m. CST


    by Randall Flagg

    You WERE being sarcastic. Didn't read your whole post, sorry :)

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 11:05 a.m. CST

    New Issue of Entertainment Weekly? Really?

    by OBSD

    Because I just went to the store and the story wan't in the newest issue they had (Jan 20). Phrehaps last issue? This same thing happened to me when they did the Watchmen retrospective. By the time it was reported, the issue was already off of the newstands to make way for the new non-Watchmeny issue. Oh, well.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 11:15 a.m. CST

    Entertainment Weekly...

    by movieman742

    It's the January 27 issue. I have a subscription and I got it in the mail on Friday.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 11:20 a.m. CST

    Thanks, movieman!

    by OBSD

    I also found it here:,6115,1150884_5_0_,00.html

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 11:22 a.m. CST

    Stephen King has the most stratefied track record for movies mad

    by Citizen Arcane

    They're either classics or pure crap. For every Shawshank Redemption there's 10 Sleepwalkers. For every The Dead Zone there's 10 Thinners. For every The Shining there's a The Shining: the Miniseries. Even in the good films there's something. Tim Curry, evil clown, good. Bizaar battle with turtle/worm thing, not so much. So it's a crap shoot with King. But he has done some great work.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 11:39 a.m. CST

    Stephen King and Koontz wrote a string of great thrillers during

    by Orbots Commander

    King can still occasionally turn out something really good. Actually, one of his best works recently was his published screenplay of STORM OF THE CENTURY. Now THAT was classic King. Koontz also wrote some very good horror novels and thrillers during the 80's; his current stuff is bad New Agey babble that just happens to be fiction. I tried to read a recent novel of his and I could barely get through the first 2 chapters. He's become virtually unreadable (not to mention the laughable dead raccoon-like rug that he sports on his head in all his back cover photos).

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 11:57 a.m. CST

    Koontz's endings were always a letdown for me.

    by OBSD

    Sometimes they just...ended. Other times he would veer off in a direction that had nothing to do with the previous 200 or so pages I just read. When I read King's Insomnia, it seemed he was doing the same kind of thing, and I haven't read a King book since. The first few pages of Cell seemed interesting, although I've read enough about a struggling writer living in Maine with marital problems. Plus, with comic book stores being such a struggling institution in this country, and what with King writing comics now (or in 2007), it's a shame that he mentions a FAKE Boston comic book store. Comix Supreme doesn't exist, and I'm sure one of the few local stores in the area would have loved the free advertisement. Nitpicky, I understand. But when most stores are struggling just to stay above water, and the Barnes & Noble-ization of the comic book industry, the independant stores can use all the help they can get. That said, once the action started, I was on the edge of my seat. I just may pick up this book on Tuesday.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 12:11 p.m. CST

    So is AICN offically doing book reviews now?

    by fiester

    Can anyone submit a book review? Does it have to be a new book? Does it have to be a genre book? Clarification on these and other issue would be most appreciated. Danke.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 12:44 p.m. CST

    I like Koontz better than King, but.....

    by Gorrister

    ....I agree with OBSD that Koontz can be pretty weak with his endings. For example, Ticktock as a kick-ass novel, but the last chapter REALLY went out into left field and belonged more in a Douglas Adams novel than Dean Koontz. Also, my favorite Koontz character of all time is Christopher Snow of the "Fear Nothing" and "Seize the Night" series....but, alas, I wait in vain for Koontz to write another book to actually brings that story to a close! Each novel just leaves you hanging. The overall crisis facing Snow (and the world) is never resolved.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 12:59 p.m. CST

    Didn't King retire?

    by DarthCorleone

    Forget an adaptation of Cell, Quint. I want my hardcore HBO Dark Tower series!!!

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 1:34 p.m. CST

    *Everyone* wants an HBO Dark Tower series...

    by Killah_Mate

    ...just like they want Preacher. Not gonna happen. You know why? Because HBO actually used to have a show like that. It was called Carnivale. And now it's gone. HBO gave up on fantasy, and I'm sorry, but I'm too much of a pessimist to hope for anything more.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 1:39 p.m. CST

    DT deserves LOTR treatment.

    by Winterchili

    Big budget. Big movies. National attention. Awesome director. Richard Kelly maybe?

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 2:16 p.m. CST


    by Veraxus

    Why? So they can cancel it just one season shy of the conclusion?

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 2:19 p.m. CST

    A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones

    by Veraxus

    Quint, you have GOT to read George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones. It's the most brutal, unpredictable, and amazing series you will ever read.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 3:01 p.m. CST

    I second that: Read GEORGE R. R. MARTIN

    by MattyBoomStar

    If you're not reading his Song of Ice and Fire series right now (starting with A Game of Thrones) you're missing out on the THE GREAT work of our time. Read it now before the ENTIRE WORLD bows down at the alter of Martin in the next 10 years. Trust me, you'll thank yourself.

  • that Marvel's going to be putting out? Written by King himself and penciled by Jae Lee? Now THAT'S some cool news. Sure, it's not Joss Whedon writing a Buffyized X-Men, but pretty fucking cool news, if you ask me.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 3:31 p.m. CST

    steve? mneh.

    by Chief Redcock

  • I loved Desperation, too, but it saddens me that the one translating that to the screen is Mick fucking Garris. It could've been great. Now, it'll be bland, bland, bland. HBO would be a much better fit. Personally, I think the whole Dark Tower series should be produced and guided by Richard Kelly as an HBO series over a period of three years, with help along the way from Frank Darabont -- the real master of Stephen King's material. Take the first year for books 1-3 (a quick pace will hook the hell out of the audience and make everyone forget about Carnivale -- and yeah, 13 hours ought to be enough). Then, oh-ho-ho, take a whole season for book four; it's the richest (I think) of the bunch and can handle it (especially if the forthcoming graphic novel stories about Jericho Hill are worked in). It'd be Deadwood King's way (and an improvement at that). Then amp up the pace and do the last season the way King did it: the three final books all at once. Thirty-nine episodes of majesty. And hanging Season 1 up with Blaine the Mono would rock so hard. It may sound rushed, but think about it: this gives the story twenty-five more hours than it would have if each book was made into a feature film. That should be enough without being too much. Anyone, that's my $.02. Not that this is anything but a happy dream.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 4:04 p.m. CST

    Mini Series of King books are generally bloody AWFUL

    by ol' painless

    particularly IT, which was absolutely awful. The Stand started out being badly miscast with the usual motley array of C-list actors, and inevitably degenerated into the usual nicey-nicey MOR poop. It could have been so much better. They lost their nerve in trying to conform to the laughable constraints of mainstream tv. (OK, you have a man getting shot, gun battles in the street, dangerous driving . . . but you CAN'T SWEAR. OR SHOW ANY RUDE BITS. Because that you be WRONG). The poor casting, mawkish script, cheesey dialogue, and just a general lack of talent killed this one worse than a case of Mr Trips. And don't get me started on the butchery of one of my favourite King stories, The Langoliers (admittedly a rather ridiculous story, but a great concept)

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 4:26 p.m. CST

    The reason you didn't connect with Christine was because it

    by jollysleeve

    King's 3 worst books have been Christine, Needful Things and Tommyknockers. However, I firmly believe that while King sometimes produces crap, he's also written a good deal of absolute genius stuff. He's really capable of producing magic. Amazing imagination that guy has. Unfortunately, as someone above pointed out, every one of the mini-series based on his works (or mini-series that he had a direct hand in) has been stupifyingly horrible grade-Z crap that Ed Wood would've been ashamed of. (Ironically, unlike the above poster, the TV version of IT was the only one of the King mini-series that I thought was fairly decent and moderately enjoyable.)

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 4:42 p.m. CST

    first two chapters available at

    by Zardoz

    It's a pretty cool set-up. I hope the rest is as good as the beginning. This'll be the first King book I've read in years. I was a voracious King reader in my youth, too. And I guess I did stop reading his work in the 90's. And The Stand is still one of my all-time favorite books, period. I'm looking forward to Cell...

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 4:46 p.m. CST

    Buy it and turn it into next December's Sci-Fi Channel ratin

    by Christopher3

    Cause nothing else comes to mind for that now.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 4:55 p.m. CST

    Well, 'IT' did start out OK . . .

    by ol' painless

    I was even able to look past the casting of John-Boy: but when we got to the scene with the spider-lobster monster underground, I knew I was in the presence of some serious non-talent cheese-whiz morons. OK, the scene in the book was extremely hard to portray onscreen, but it was so damn literal in the miniseries, I cringed. "Oh Look! They're pulling its heart out! And thats really important! We won't explain why! It was in the book!" Its been a long time since I saw 'IT' so my memory of it is ropey: but the end seemed so richly glazed in The Special Sauce Of TV Prime Time Dumbness, that I still have trouble removing its taste from my brain!

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 5:19 p.m. CST

    There was an X-Files episode a bit like this ...

    by Shan

    ... except it was all sorts of different electrical equipment sending messages to people to suddenly become killers - and I think you never find out who's responsible. Sometimes that works better than having an explanation. The irony is that if something like this is global, most of the world would probably survive (and may well not even notice for some time) as they can't even get clean drinking water, let alone a mobile phone.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 5:42 p.m. CST

    I Can't Wait!

    by Evil Chicken

    DT, Salem

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 6:20 p.m. CST

    The Dark Tower comic

    by smackfu

    Growing up, The Dark Tower was my literary obsession, and Jae Lee's work was my comic obsession. The fact that I now get to read a Dark Tower comic written by King and drawn by Lee is satisfying beyond words. It's my geek equivilant of a movie directed by Tarantino, written by Charlie Kaufman, staring Christopher Walken and Bruce Campbell.

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 10:07 p.m. CST

    You could have just put up a link to the story, man.

    by OBSD

    like this:,6115,1150884_5_0_,00.html

  • Jan. 22, 2006, 11:39 p.m. CST

    i would rather have my balls chopped off than have to watch the

    by Chief Redcock

    damn it blew

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 2:07 a.m. CST

    That was pretty good...

    by Cartagia

    I didn't even know King had a new novel coming out... much less a post-apocalyptic type one. I'm sold.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 2:59 a.m. CST

    But what about the ending to the Gunslinger?

    by Toby O Notoby

    Man, I really wished I hadn't read those last few pages.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 3:03 a.m. CST

    A listened to pulse sends changes them? Threshold

    by elab49

    must have really pissed him off then!

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 3:15 a.m. CST

    Man, I loved DREAMCATCHER

    by zillabeast

    What's sad is, with the exception of them trying to cram the last 500 pages of the book into the last 20 minutes of the movie, the film followed the book nearly perfectly. Everything was coming out just as I envsioned it as I read it until they totally fracked up the final act. Gah. Oh well.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 3:50 a.m. CST

    end of world:i dont think so

    by Wyrdy the Gerbil

    as an end of world scenario the whole concept sucks..because i would imagine there are many places around the world where they hav`nt even seen a mobile/cell phone never mind used one

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 5:15 a.m. CST

    In a lot of apocalyptic scenarios ...

    by Shan

    ... quite a lot of people in the world would survive because what we see collapsing is modern first world communities, often in cities. A lot of people living in the rest of the world probably wouldn't be affected and ultimately be better off if they got rid of all of us for all we know. If this is actually the case of something happening through a mobile phone, well most of the world may well not even be touched depending on what's going on in this scenario ...

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 6:43 a.m. CST

    "I'd recommend this to a current King fan, a King fan that g

    by Trazadone

    You're speaking to me, man. I've always been pleased that you reveiw King's books because we seem to hold the same opinion on his more recent offerings. Aside from the Dark Tower books and his short stories, I don't believe he's written anything good since Tom Gordon. I hated Insomnia (boring), Dreamcatcher (plagerized himself), and From a Buick 8 (even Kind admits this kind of sucked). The Colorado Kid just pissed me off. I'll pick up The Cell based on your review.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 6:46 a.m. CST

    What are the good Dean Koontz books?

    by Trazadone

    I just read Life Expectancy and LOATHED it. I hated the characters and I was pissed to find out that the whole unbelievable plot revolved around a crazy clown. His first books, like Phantoms, were awesome. It seems like he churns them out really quickly these days and it shows. Any recommendations?

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 8:12 a.m. CST


    by radio1_mike

    I have high hopes for this novel. King really lost me in the mid-90s... I love all his short fiction, his stuff up to about 1992 but curiously I do not like the Dark Tower series. Maybe I should give it another chance... But Stevie doing 'zombies', if it anywhere near as good as 'The Stand' or 'The Mist' I'll be happy.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 8:42 a.m. CST


    by thomasgaffney

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 8:42 a.m. CST


    by thomasgaffney

    I found the Cell already on sale at a Target.....

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 8:56 a.m. CST

    How much was it at Target?

    by Trazadone

    I'll grab it after work!

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 10:08 a.m. CST

    Give Me King Over Koontz Anyday

    by gojira

    At least King isn't a conservative Christian wacko who contributes heavily to the Repugnican Party.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 10:47 a.m. CST

    I Dont Get the 90s Hatred

    by Lovecraftfan

    Honestly Ive never really gotten this King hasnt done anything worthwhile in the 90s. To me hes only become mroe daring. Just look at how he ended the DT series to see that. Also Bag Of Bones wa s a great book and so was From A Buick 8 a meditation on the anture of mystery and the unknown which nobody seemed to get

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 10:48 a.m. CST

    Its nice to see some people like King

    by Lovecraftfan

    There will always be King haters on this board but I think hes just great and one of our best writers. If you dont believe me read The Stand and IT two brilliant works.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 11:09 a.m. CST

    King/Koontz, the 90s, etc...

    by DefyThis

    Koontz is a second rate King, entertaining at times, but he lacks characters that truly stand out in many cases, and books like Funhouse were weak. Watchers was his best book, then he ripped it off in Darkfall. 90s King? Bag of Bones was fine. Hearts in Atlantis had its moments. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon was a good, quick read. Desperation/The Regulators were iffy at spots but entertaining. Someone said Needful Things sucked? Personally I thought that was an excellent book. As was From a Buick 8 - it was just something a little different. Cell actually sounds like a whack premise if you ask me, but I'll read it regardless. Still, it's a novel that's going to look dated in ten years I suspect.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 11:15 a.m. CST

    Re: I Dont Get the 90s Hatred

    by Trazadone

    I've read every published book King has written and I can tell you that his writing has been "phoned in" for years. Just look at his pre-90s books and you'll see the glaring differences between his writing then and now. Compare It, Misery, Pet Cemetary, The Stand, Christine, Carrie, Salem's Lot, Cujo, Firestarter, Night Shift, Skeleton Crew, and The Shining with any of his 90s stuff and you'll see the gradual decline in his writing. When was the last time one of his books was truly "scary"? Bag of Bones was another one I thought was awful.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 12:23 p.m. CST

    He got bad when he got off the junk...

    by Christopher3

    Is my theory.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 1:22 p.m. CST


    by Fireball XL-5

    Let me take a crack at the mystery of the Pulse based on what I know about Stephen King: It will be revealed that the Pulse was actually sent out by evil Republicans engaged in domestic spying on members of sleeper cells. It was supposed to target only terrorists chattering on cell phones, but because of budget shortcust taken by the creator of the technology, a former employee of Enron Corporation, the Pulse misfired and hit everybody.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 1:28 p.m. CST

    Koontz Books that Don't suck

    by Ray Garraty #47

    Somebody above wanted to find some Koontz books that didn't suck. As mentioned above, there seems to be a block in the middle of his career in which he had a good string. Try Watchers, Phantoms (for God's sake, not the movies, though), Strangers, Twilight Eyes, or, from a little later, Lightning or the Bad Place. I gotta disagree with Gorrister above on TickTock. When Koontz tries to do "Madcap humor" he comes across poorly, as in certain parts of Mr. Murder...and even worse so when trying for an entire novel (Tick Tock). To be fair a lot of his fans think he is hilarious. Stay away from really early stuff like Demon Seed or the Funhouse. Watchers, in particular, is widely considered to be one of his best novels and the one he is asked about most often because it has a dog featured prominently in it and, well, a lot of people like dogs. It's a little "cute" but is an easy read and pretty entertaining. Hope this helped.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 1:38 p.m. CST

    Great Point, Christopher 3...

    by Ray Garraty #47

    ...and I think that really had a lot to do with it. It's like "Behind the Music" but with authors instead of musicians. At first, you can be prolific while drinking and doing drugs but eventually you just destroy yourself. In "On Writing" I think King admitted that he didn't even remember writing a few of those books at all and as he got older he was drinking cases of beer a day along with bottles of mouthwash-just for the alcohol content. He got sober and I guess it saved his life but he sure wrote some bad books. In Misery, the main character mentions writing extra books to be stored away and sent to your publisher during a bad year, and I wonder how often he did that.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 1:55 p.m. CST

    Wizard and Glass; Everything's Eventual

    by unmask

    Two books that will prove to you that King can still pen some masterpieces. It sounds like Pulse is gunning for the same stratosphere. It will be nice to take a break from Mr. Clive Barker.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 2:43 p.m. CST

    Dark Tower series

    by uberman

    For me, i could not take another after the 'Romance' one so called it quits. The characters became really, really friggin adolescent and stupid. The addict, the crazy woman, the boy, Boy, I get sick just thinking about how lame it became after the highpoint of the 2nd one. I guess what I am trying to say, as a lifetime KING reader since the 70's, is he has now officially jumped the shark. I have moved on...

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 3:01 p.m. CST

    Thanks for the tip, Ray Garraty #47

    by Trazadone

    He has like 30 novels so this is actually a big help.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 3:16 p.m. CST

    You're Welcome

    by Ray Garraty #47

    You gotta start somewhere. Look for me on one of these boards and let me know either way. I don't post really frequently but I usually read the talkbacks; I'd like to know what you read and if you liked/hated it.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 3:18 p.m. CST


    by Loosejerk

    Gotta agree with a good Koontz book being "The Bad Place". I used to tear through his books in High School...not so much now. I remember The Bad Place being the one I recommended most due to it's twisty twist.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 3:26 p.m. CST

    Even more excited than I was!

    by leesheri

    I am already really looking forward to this book, and now I am ready to stand outside of BAM with my face pressed against the glass crying, "Open, Open"

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 3:35 p.m. CST

    I get your point, Trazadone

    by Dijonase24

    But I think that King has strayed away from all out horror over the last 10-15 years. I honestly think some of his strongest work was released during the 90s. I'd rank Desperation up there with the best of his balls-out horror novels, but I think that (along with The Regulators, which was good, but not as good as Desperation) may have been the only balls-out horror novel he wrote in the 90s. Bag of Bones, which you said you thought was awful, was more a story of a man fighting his own personal demons and dealing with his wife's death than anything else. There was a ghost story sub-plot, but that wasn't really the main focus of the book. Hearts in Atlantis (another great one, in my opinion) was anything but horror, so you really can't judge it based on how "scary" it was. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, if you ask me, was a damn near perfect little book. The only horror in it was the horror created by the mind of a pre-teen (if I remember correctly) girl forced to survive getting lost in the wilderness. In the 90s he also released The Wastelands and Wizard and Glass, maybe the two best books in the Dark Tower series. I'm certainly not saying that your opinion is wrong, I'm just saying that it's tough to judge his 90s work by how "scary" it was. He did a lot more work that I'd consider fantasy (Dark Tower) and human drama with hints of the supernatural (Bag of Bones, Hearts in Atlantis, Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon) than horror. And in all that, he wrote what in my opinion might be the scariest scene in any of his books (Jake being attacked by the house in The that creeped me out for some reason). As a fan of King's recent work I had to drop in my $0.02.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 4:21 p.m. CST

    Bag of Bones

    by zer0cool2k2

    I really think Bag of Bones was the best thing King did for quite a stretch. I've been a King fan since the early 80's, but was starting to think he'd lost it. (I've always thought of his books to be "good premise - Great middle - disappointing ending"). I had to struggle through Dreamcatcher and Buick 8, Tom Gordon was a good quick read, but Bag of Bones was one of my most enjoyable start-to-finish King reads ever. It also had one of the only "NO" shouted out loud while reading moments I've ever had.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 4:31 p.m. CST

    Loosejerk good call on The Bad Place...

    by StudioPlant69

    Still my favorite Koontz book, it's just so freaking crazy and anybody who can make a guy named Candy scary is the master! I agree with the poster about DT the ending was weak and predictable, of course King warns you right before it that it's not about how it ends it's about the journey... Yeah sounds like Stevie could think up a better ending. I still loved me all them DT books. gfy

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 5:21 p.m. CST

    Trazadone- I still dont g et the 90s hatred.

    by Lovecraftfan

    Sorry I dont think hes phoned it in. So he ahsnt written many scary books. What does that have to do with quality. Sorry but I have always been more impresse d with his w riting skills and character developement than how many scares hes got. Thats superficial. Bag Of Bones was a great book. Desperation was good. DT series contained some of the bravest decisions Ive seen by a writer in a long time. Everythings Eventual had some great short stories. Sorry but I dont see this blanket generalization of his books ahve all been bad in the 90s. Rereading The Stand now.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 5:25 p.m. CST

    Trazadone- Couldnt disagree more. Oh well

    by Lovecraftfan

    Sorry but I still get what you mean. So his books are bad in the 90s cause theyre not scary. Sorry but they have never been scary. Ive been more interested in his character developement and writing skills. I thought Heart In Atlantis was a great heartbreaking book, Bag Of Bones was a significant step forward. DT series contained some of the bravest decisions Ive ever seen by a writer. So I dont agree with you about this all 90s Kings books being bad. Rereading Stand now.

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 5:26 p.m. CST

    Sorry didnt mean to double post.

    by Lovecraftfan

  • Jan. 23, 2006, 7:10 p.m. CST

    Just had a thought, what about text messaging?

    by Shan

    If you're just sending a text, does that count as a use of a mobile phone that'll send you homicidally crazy?

  • Jan. 24, 2006, 3:51 a.m. CST

    crazyeyezkillah - Really Fucking Uncool

    by CRanapia

    If you want to get into on-line fiction try writing your own dickhead. Even better, why don't learn a little about organisations that defend the creative and commercial rights of writers? gojira: Oh, so fucking what? King is a registered Democrat, voted for Kerry and (if his memoir 'On Writing' is anything to go by) is an agnostic whose daughter is a Unitarian minister. He even supports horrible liberal causes. Ooooh... I'm so bored with people who can't take a dump in the morning without it having profound geopolitical meaning, and can't live their lives unless everything and everyone passes through your little ideological filter.

  • Jan. 24, 2006, 6:26 a.m. CST

    Dijonase24, I agree with a lot of what you say

    by Trazadone

    Actually, I had forgotten about Hearts in Atlantis and I loved that book. I also loved The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon and the Dark Tower books. I also believe that King is the best short story writer of our time. I guess I just miss his "horror" novels. You're right, as I look back on his last 10 books or so there's been a definite shift away from horror. The problem is that the book descriptions are very misleading so each time I crack one of his books I'm inevitably disappointed because it doesn't end up being "scary" as I was led to believe. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE King and own every one of his books in hard cover. Lovecraftfan, you're right, Everything's Eventual has some awesome stuff in it. I was responding more about his novels, not his short stories, which I love.

  • Jan. 24, 2006, 9:02 a.m. CST


    by Ray Garraty #47

    The one thing that did happen is that as King got older his novels did tip more towards the fantastical - compare the Shining to, say, Insomnia - and he also seemed to try to hard to force connections between his novels as they traveled along the beams of the Dark Tower...even forcing connections retroactively. He still writes some excellent books now and he wrote good stuff during the late 90's...but in my opinion a lot of them were harder to get into because they were just downright stranger than The Stand, the Dead Zone, et al and appealed to a smaller element of readers. As your user id indicates, you are part of that element. Those of us who found his books not only scary but also accessible had a lot of trouble reading about giant catfish and magic paintings. Even Eyes of the Dragon, which is outright fantasy, stays in a persistent world for the most part (I'll give you the fact that bad guy's name is Flagg). I read everyting the guy's ever put out but there is definitely a line of demarcation somewhere in his career where he started doing things differently...and that's where he lost people. Despite the fact that we both obviously really enjoy the man's work from the past and today, Don't you think that his newer stuff (including Dark Tower series) is a little more sloppy and bloated?

  • Jan. 24, 2006, 10:11 a.m. CST

    Thanks for the response, Trazadone

    by Dijonase24

    I post here occasionally, and that may be the first time I've ever posted a dissenting opinion and gotten a logical response that wasn't calling me names and threatening to kill my family. I actually forgot a 90s King title that I consider one of his best: The Green Mile. I think that in addition to moving away from horror a bit King has started doing more interesting things. The Green Mile was released in 6 100 page segments. Desperation and The Regulators told two different stories about the same group of people. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon was basically a short story compared to King's other novels. It seems to me that he continues to challenge himself as an author. He's still trying new things even as he considers retirement. I've only read a few King novels that didn't do it for me (The Tommyknockers and Dreamcatcher come to mind, though both had their moments) so I'm really looking forward to picking up Cell.

  • Jan. 24, 2006, 10:17 a.m. CST

    Ray Garratay #47

    by Lovecraftfan

    Ill give you this. There have been few King books I didnt like like Rose Madder and Tommyknockers and the Regulators and all of those have been in his later carrer. Also as far DT goes his refernce occasionally did lack continuity. Also his two masterpieces IT and The Stand are from the first half of his carrer. On the other hand I think the fact he is trying to do something different is exciting and occasionally great. I loved Bag Of Bones, beautiful love story. I loved DT and the risks he took. I still insist the e nding to the series made perfect sense if you ahd paid attention. Also I love the connections to his other works gave his entire carrer a bigger scope. Also I love Hearts In Atlantis. I dont know why people hate that book. Its not scary isnt really excuse. So despite reservations I enjoy whats hes doing now.

  • Jan. 24, 2006, 10:55 a.m. CST

    Dijonase24, I forgot about the Green Mile!

    by Trazadone

    It's true, that's another excellent one! Also, do you remember his unfinished internet book experiment, The Plant? I was really enjoying it and I was so disappointed that he aborted it.

  • Jan. 24, 2006, 11:02 a.m. CST

    "On the other hand I think the fact he is trying to do something

    by Ray Garraty #47

    I totally agree, just as I would agree if it pertained to a band or artist. (Also, I liked the ending to the Dark Tower series as well; it compounded the tragedy of Roland's life. It was just hard to finally put the book down and say "I can't believe the damn thing's finally over."

  • Jan. 24, 2006, 12:32 p.m. CST

    King's last excellent book was Wizard & Glass (the 4th Dark

    by performingmonkey

    I thought Dreamcatcher was very good. It just gets slated because of the movie and because it involves aliens. In reality, it's classic King. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon was OK. Bag Of Bones I enjoyed, even though some of it felt like King By Numbers. From A Buick 8, unfortunately, ranks amongst his shittier efforts. He probably should have fucked that one and started on the last 3 Dark Tower books sooner. Speaking of those, I rate them as very hit and miss. He simply couldn't retain what he had with the first 4 installments. Though I'm not sure he even wanted to. For me, one of the only good things was the way he dealt with Callahan's character, dedicating half of book 5 to him and then giving him a blissful redemption in book 7. Other than that King went off on too many tangents that led ultimately to nowhere. He managed to fuck off most of his readers by doing demented things like building up Mordred, the child of Roland and the Crimson King, and then in the end he was pointless and meant nothing to the story as a whole.

  • Jan. 24, 2006, 12:35 p.m. CST

    Bag of Bones

    by uberman

    Funny, but clearly the finest, most mature and most absorbing King book in ages is this novel. It's not for the shock fans, its not lame, and it has a distinct fresh narrative that seemed like King had found a new rhythm. Funny that this, clearly his best in a long time, never gets mentioned, nor does it seem to generate any real film buzz. Whatever happens, just keep King from doing his own screenplay, and, God help us all, keep Mick Garret the fuck away from it.

  • Jan. 24, 2006, 6:03 p.m. CST

    Ray Garraty #47

    by Lovecraftfan

    You would agree if it pertained to an artist. Isnt a writer an artist. Kings a great writer so wouldnt he be an artist. Also I would agree that to me the first four DT books are superior as a whole to the last three but there wre some truly wonderful things in those three books that get shortchanged. Uberman you are so right why doesnt anybody mention Bag Of Bones. Or Hearts In Atlantis. I still dont get the hate for that one.

  • Jan. 24, 2006, 7:31 p.m. CST

    The Quality Has Declined

    by I_Snake_Plissken

    Had to throw in my opinion

  • Jan. 24, 2006, 11:57 p.m. CST

    More People Should Read Richard Matheson

    by skoobyx

    Its a shame he's so neglected. Remember the monster on the wing in Twilight Zone? Remember the truck that chases Dennis Weaver in Duel? How about the Zuni fetish doll in Trilogy of Terror? How about Stir of Echos? What Dreams May Come? Okay, no one remembers What Dreams May Come. I Am Legend is absolute genius. It feels a little dated but its very unerving and the obvious inspiration for Night of the Living Dead. Seriously, if you bored with King check him out.

  • Jan. 25, 2006, 6:06 a.m. CST

    anchorite, uh, okay grandma

    by Trazadone


  • Jan. 25, 2006, 8:24 a.m. CST


    by Ray Garraty #47

    When I put "artist" I guess I should have typed "painter." I'm fine with any artist in any medium trying to grow or challenge himself/herself by taking risks. But sometimes the risks pay off with the fans and sometimes they don't. King sure as hell didn't need the money, so if he wanted to do that it makes sense.

  • Jan. 25, 2006, 10:27 a.m. CST

    McCammons Best Book Isnt Swan Song Its

    by Lovecraftfan

    Boys Life. One of the best books Ive ever rea d and one of the few aside from It and The Stand that Ive read several times. Oh and I have to wonder what people will think of him when he really stops wriitng and passes away. I think along with with Lovecraft and Straub they will become the celebrated horror trifecta.

  • Jan. 26, 2006, 2:48 a.m. CST

    BIRDY BIRDMAN, are you doing an impression of a talkback loser o

    by gunnarcannibal

    saying things like "This is obviously going to suck" calling someone who has had a successful career for over 30 years and is more valuable to the human race than you a "hack" and worst of all saying "MEH"? Do you know how pathetic you are? I mean really? Do you see what you are? Just stop, you talkbacking hack. I think you are trying to start arguments but what would be the point because you insult yourself well enough by giving your useless opinion. I can't wait to hear you talk "FIRST!" about hulk hogan or george lucas on some other thread. Did Stanley Kubrick, John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, Brian De Palma make a movie about anything you have written? Are they "hacks". Do you understand how lame you are yet?

  • Jan. 26, 2006, 2:57 a.m. CST

    Birdybirdman...oh, so YOU WERE KIDDING, nevermind than

    by gunnarcannibal

    that blew up in my face, but whatever, I swear to god if you were serious...well let us just thank fuck that you weren't, for the sake of humanity. damn it, I worked really hard on that rant too!

  • Jan. 26, 2006, 9:25 a.m. CST


    by smackfu

    I've never read a Koontz novel all the way through. It was like reading a non-compelling version of a Stephen King story, so I just put it down and went back to the real thing. Stephen King is Coke, and Dean Koontz is Royal Crown Cola.

  • Jan. 26, 2006, 2:31 p.m. CST

    Hey, I like RC Cola

    by zer0cool2k2

    But Koontz sucks

  • Jan. 26, 2006, 9:11 p.m. CST

    Steve-o gets to take out his frustrations

    by ewokstew

  • Jan. 26, 2006, 9:12 p.m. CST

    on every cell phone using lunatic that cut him...

    by ewokstew

    off in traffic and gets paid a million for it. This guy is a genius!

  • Jan. 27, 2006, 7:14 a.m. CST

    i'm just about finished with the book...

    by keyserSOZE

    and i like it, i really do...however, i can really feel a disappointing end building up. plus, frankly, it just isn't as much of a zombie story as people are suggesting. at the beginning,'s very much a zombie story, and that's also the part of the book i enjoyed the most...but the turn it takes between, oh, pages 200-250 is just...meh. best described as meh. i appreciate how king is taking an original spin on the genre, but i would prefer a little standard zombie action instead of what actually happens with the "zombies"...

  • Jan. 27, 2006, 1:54 p.m. CST

    Koontz Books

    by I_Snake_Plissken

    In case somebody out there hasn

  • Jan. 29, 2006, 6:58 a.m. CST


    by ILK

    I'm loving it so far. Best in a LONG time. But I am having a problem with how quickly the main character makes the "connection" between what's happening and cell phones. People use the damned things SO often in public now that to put 2 and 2 together so quickly makes little sense. But since I cannot put the thing down, this is forgiven. (and addressed in the screenplay maybe?) Thanks for the great review.

  • Jan. 29, 2006, 10:46 a.m. CST

    Dark Tower VII

    by smackfu

    Right now I'm on about page 700 of the final Dark Tower book. I'm hearing a lot of people express disgust at the ending. Should I stop now, and keep the mystery of the Dark Tower at the mercy of my imagination, or are people just exaggerating about how much of a letdown the ending is?

  • Jan. 30, 2006, 6:16 a.m. CST

    I_Snake_Plissken, you nailed it!

    by Trazadone

    I was laughing so hard when I read your post because I recently read a Koontz book and it followed that formula EXACTLY!

  • Jan. 31, 2006, 4:06 p.m. CST

    just finsihed...

    by amievil

    the cell....i definetly liked it but i wished it would have actually ended instead of having the typical "TV show series end/set up movie sequel" type of ending...but overall its was enjoyable...

  • Feb. 1, 2006, 4:17 p.m. CST


    by beamish13

    That was an awesome post on Koontz

  • Feb. 2, 2006, 2:19 p.m. CST

    people actually like King's short stories?

    by beamish13

    His shorter pieces are some of the crappiest, most incompetent pieces of writing that I've ever come across. I remember wanting to hurl one of his collections after reading "The Lawnmower Man"...

  • Feb. 2, 2006, 3:07 p.m. CST

    Hey Snake

    by Dreth

    DEAD on with the Koontz summary. Kudos.

  • Feb. 3, 2006, 1:10 p.m. CST

    Koontz is Nothing if Not Predictable

    by I_Snake_Plissken

    In terms of the Koontz thing, it would be a lot funnier if it weren

  • March 15, 2006, 12:07 a.m. CST

    smackfu, keep reading, dude...

    by Col. Klink

    You've come this far. You can't back out now (as my bride-to-be warned me).