Stephen King, Author . Scribner $26.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7432-9233-7

What if a pulse sent out through cell phones turned every person using one of them into a zombie-like killing machine? That's what happens on page six of King's latest, a glib, technophobic but compelling look at the end of civilization—or at what may turn into a new, extreme, telepathically enforced fascism. Those who are not on a call at the time of the pulse (and who don't reach for their phones to find out what is going on) remain "normies." One such is Clayton Riddell, an illustrator from Kent Pond, Maine, who has just sold some work in Boston when the pulse hits. Clay's single-minded attempt to get back to Maine, where his estranged wife, Sharon, and young son, Johnny-Gee, may or may not have been turned into "phoners" (as those who have had their brains wiped by the pulse come to be called) comprises the rest of the plot. 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—Clay travels at first with two other refugees—are jaunty and witty. The novel's three long set pieces are all pretty gory, but not gratuitously so, and the book holds together in signature King style. Fans will be satisfied and will look forward to the next King release, Lisey's Story , slated for October. (Jan. 24)

Reviewed on: 01/02/2006
Release date: 01/01/2006
Genre: Fiction
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