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Hell Phone
     

Hell Phone

4.6 9
by William Sleator
 

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A modern murder story with a devilish twist

Master of horror William Sleator has created another creepy, heart-pumping classic in Hell Phone. Nick wants a cell phone so he can talk to his girlfriend, Jen, after school, and the used phone he buys seems like a bargain. That is, until the phone calls begin—demanding, disturbed strangers calling

Overview

A modern murder story with a devilish twist

Master of horror William Sleator has created another creepy, heart-pumping classic in Hell Phone. Nick wants a cell phone so he can talk to his girlfriend, Jen, after school, and the used phone he buys seems like a bargain. That is, until the phone calls begin—demanding, disturbed strangers calling night and day. At first Nick wants to get rid of the phone, but the creepy callers and the phone's ghoulish games pull him into a web of crime, pushing him to steal, con. . . and kill.

Fans of Sleator's The Boy Who Couldn't Die will enjoy this equally diabolical thriller.

Praise for Hell Phone

"An entertaining and unquestionably dark diversion . . ." —Publishers Weekly

"Sleator, the author of Interstellar Pig, The Boy Who Couldn't Die, and many other SF thrillers for YAs, excels at this genre, and horror fans will enjoy every nasty detail." —Kliatt

"A suspense-filled plot and touches of macabre humor will appeal to both horror fans and reluctant readers." —Kirkus

"The rapid pace and vivid, unsettling conception of the Inferno will grab horror readers." —School Library Journal

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Sleator's (The Boy Who Couldn't Die) lean, fast-paced horror tale moves from fascinating to far-fetched, all under a palpable blanket of darkness. Nick, a high-school junior, decides to get a cell phone so he can make calls to his girlfriend, Jen. But the only one he can afford comes from a discount store and has no caller ID. Soon after acquiring it, the 17-year-old gets a sinister phone call from someone demanding to know his name and location. He gets another from a tearful woman, begging to know what happened to someone named Trang. The phone is loaded with "Games from Hell" (e.g., "Torture Master" and "Joyful Sins to Get You In") and at least some of the inbound calls come from Hell itself. Sleator makes some interesting commentary on cell phone use and its ability to both aid in and thwart communication (when Nick and Jen go to dinner and his phone rings, she says, "I thought we came here to be together"). The sinister caller threatens to hurt Jen, then escapes into the real world with Nick's unwitting help. From here the story becomes less interesting and a bit silly as it circles around a dark family secret (not Nick's family) and takes a predictable turn. An entertaining and unquestionably dark diversion, the tale unfortunately does not live up to the tantalizing promise of its first few chapters. Ages 13-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Nick works harder then most other teenage kids. He sees how his mom struggles; he is determined to have a better life. It is his poor living conditions, strong work ethic, and his desire for something better that ultimately leads him to the most disgusting caverns imaginable. It is hard to believe that it all starts with a cell phone. Common sense tells Nick that the threatening calls and gruesome games could not be true, even though they seem so uncannily realistic. Nick manages to rationalize every strange occurrence, even as each one becomes more dangerous and bizarre. The cell phone continues to conjure a caller from hell and when the caller appears at Nick's door, oozing with open sores and stinking of filth, Nick still convinces himself that he can help these people. He is lured deeper into a twisted plot of deception, betrayal, and greed. The reader follows Nick as he changes from a sincere, studious, and serious teenage boy into a conflicted and murderous stooge. The story gradually shifts from realistic to supernatural to horrific but remains believable and enthralling. The fast pace of the story is thrilling, but the content is not recommended for those with weak stomachs. 2006, Amulet Books/Harry N. Abrams, Ages 12 up.
—Denise Daley
KLIATT
When Nick buys a used cell phone to call his girlfriend Jen, he starts to get frightening calls from strange people; some cry for assistance, others order him to take action. Excited by the mystery and danger, Nick follows the directions he's given, and finds himself pushed into lying and stealing--and then things get worse. A demanding man named Fleck appears, claiming to have risen from hell after being killed by a man named Rusty. Meanwhile, a pathetic woman named Lola, the sister of Rusty, claims Rusty is after their grandfather's fortune, and will kill Lola to get it; she pleads for Nick's help. Then Rusty appears and starts to make moves on Jen. Nick kills Rusty when he catches him trying to rape Jen, and is sentenced to death and then in hell. Can Nick use the cell phone to get back and explain how he was manipulated into killing Rusty? Sinister suspense abounds here, and the vivid descriptions of the tortures and miseries of hell will send shivers down readers' spines. Sleator, the author of Intersteller Pig, The Boy Who Couldn't Die, and many other SF thrillers for YAs, excels at this genre, and horror fans will enjoy every nasty detail. KLIATT Codes: S--Recommended for senior high school students. 2006, Abrams, Amulet, 256p., $16.95.. Ages 15 to 18.
—Paula Rohrlick
Paulette Clark
This was a suspenseful thriller mystery intertwined with fantasy and romance. The compelling story was an easy read. Although the beginning of the story lacked vivid descriptors, it improved. The quick pace of the story keeps the reader interested and would appeal to young readers who enjoy thrillers with the mention of ghoulish creepiness. Young readers with the same socio-economic background could easily relate to the problems of Nick, the protagonist, a foolish and easily duped teenager with a trusting character. The author was superb with his depiction of the innocent youth being the unsuspecting target of unscrupulous characters.
VOYA - Stacey Hayman
Nick and his mother live in a shabby trailer park with few creature comforts-no computer, no car, no cell phone. His girlfriend Jen is the best thing in Nick's life. Jen is the one person who understands how hard Nick works to make a future for himself. When Nick sees an advertisement for a strangely inexpensive cell phone, he is suspicious, but he cannot resist the temptation. Buying a cell phone, even though it takes most of his savings, is the perfect way to reach out to Jen at any time. A good intention gone wrong, the cell phone is the beginning of Nick's downward spiral. The new, Hell phone-owning Nick releases the dead from Hell, spies on Jen, and eventually uses a gun on another teen. It pains this reviewer to say something quite so negative about a book that Sleator has written, but it leaves the reader confused and disappointed. The characters are one-dimensional, and the plot moves slowly despite the creepy parts. The unique explanation of Hell and of how characters move through the dimensions is the strongest component of the book. The sensational description of various torture methods will make readers uncomfortable, but they create a sense of drama and excitement. It is also frustrating how little decision making Nick does. The abrupt wrap-up, although providing a happy ending, is less than satisfying. The horror and suspense elements will draw in many teens, but suggest most of this author's other titles first.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-With only 50 hard-earned dollars in his pocket, Nick Gordon can't afford to be choosy when it comes to purchasing a cell phone, so he takes what the dealer at the discount store offers him: a suspiciously newer-looking model with an odd ring and no caller ID. Almost instantly, the phone Nick purchased solely to keep in touch with his girlfriend is taking over his life, with mysterious callers asking for (or demanding) help and a selection of fiendish-looking games. Is it all a hoax, or does the phone's coverage extend into Hell itself? Either way, Nick finds himself going with terrifying speed from poor boy trying to make good to criminal. While the ending wraps up rather too neatly, the rapid pace and vivid, unsettling conception of the Inferno will grab horror readers, particularly those who've enjoyed Sleator's other works.-Christi Voth, Parker Library, CO Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sleator devotes his considerable talents to a horror story this time. High-school student Nick and his mother live in near-poverty. Because his mother closely monitors use of their home phone, Nick buys a cell phone to talk more frequently to his girlfriend. But this phone brings weird and threatening calls and proves to have a direct connection to Hell. Nick's life changes-and not for the better. The pitiful and self-pitying Nick, with his limited experience and lack of worldly knowledge, makes a great pawn for the predatory adults he meets when using the cell phone. The many unpleasant characters and the need for a big-time suspension of disbelief (a direct connection to where?) are countered by a dark, involving and fast-moving plot that surprises, shocks and-eventually-terrifies. Sleator cleverly uses Nick's weaknesses to paint him into a corner, then pulls off a horrifying (but satisfactory) ending. Gross and yucky episodes, a suspense-filled plot and touches of macabre humor will appeal to both horror fans and reluctant readers. (Fiction. 13-15)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780810993600
Publisher:
Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
Publication date:
09/01/2007
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

William Sleator is considered a master of science fiction and thrillers for middle-grade readers and young adults. Publishers Weekly says his work is "the best that science fiction can offer." He divides his time between homes in Boston and rural Thailand.

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Hell Phone 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
BrianSantamaria More than 1 year ago
The book I read for my book review is Hell phone. This book was written by William Sleator. I picked out this book because my brothers highly recommended it to me because they read the book and thought it was good. They also recommended it because they know I like scary books. The book starts with the main character named Nick. Nick has always wanted a cell phone just so he can call his girlfriend, Jen. His family is pretty poor and it was hard for him to get the money for a phone. He had to work a long time and extra just so he could get a phone. He saw a flyer that showed a store selling phones for a cheap price. He bought a phone for a low price. After the purchase he was curious to why it was so cheap. When he got home he got a random phone call and thought it was just from the old caller. He then later on found out he was getting calls from people in Hell. The old owner of the phone couldn't take it and sold it. The person who called Nick got angry the other guy sold the phone. I would highly recommend this book because I really enjoyed it. I would recommend it to people who like horror books. I liked how the author built up the plot and introduced characters. This book is one of the first books I really enjoyed. I wouldn't recommend it to a lower age though because some parts are graphic. I give this book a five out of five star rating.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hell Phone by William Sleator is an amazing fictional novel. Hell Phone is the best book in the world. Personally, I hate reading, but when I opened this book, I could not put it down because it was so interesting. It was so thrilling to see what would happen next. Hell Phone takes place in the present day in a small town. Nick, who is wants to become closer to his girlfriend Jen, saves up to buy a used cell phone. This phone is not like any old phone, but it's a phone from Hell. When Nick turns the phone on, right away it meowed. When he answers the phone, people that he doesn't even know are telling what to do, what to buy, and where to go. When they hang up, nick can't even call them back because there is no caller I.D. nick decides to bring the phone to his girlfriend's dad. When her dad fools around with it, he finds the games and the name is "GAMES FROM REAL HELL". After that, Nick and Jen went to eat at the local diner, and there he shows Jen the phone. She can't help, but she does tell him to throw it away. When he gets the phone back from Jen, he decides to play around with it some more to see who the previous owner was. William Sleator uses first person view. The characters all speak like normal people. I like how the people on the phone sound scary and you can also see how the font changes when the people on the phone talk. Everyone should read this book who is age 13 and up because the it is scary and some inappropriate langue. Even if you don't like reading, like me, grab this book at the library or buy it from Barnes and Noble. You will not regret reading it.
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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
All Nick wanted was a cell phone so he could talk to his girlfriend, Jen, in the evenings. What he got was a nightmare he would have never imagined.

Nick's mother, who works hard every day, usually from daylight to sometime in the night, doesn't earn enough money to keep much food in the house, much less afford to keep the phone turned on. Nick works almost every day himself in the hospital cafeteria after school and has saved up money to buy a cell phone.

After school one day, before he headed to work, Nick rode his bike to a store that was advertising used cell phones on a flyer he received in the mail. Once he walked in, Nick noticed that there weren't many phones on display that looked like they'd be cheap enough for him to buy. He only had fifty dollars for the phone and the minutes. When he told the salesperson how much he had to spend, there was only one phone that he would sell at that price. It surprised Nick that it looked pretty cool and he considered himself pretty lucky, even with the drawbacks. The drawbacks were that the Caller ID had been disabled and there were no returns or refunds. So, once he bought the phone he was stuck with it or just out the money. In the end, Nick decided to take the phone and paid for one-hundred-and-fifty minutes--and left the store.

When Nick arrived home after work, his mother still wasn't home from her job so he used the time to make his first call to Jen. As soon as he turned it on, it rang with an annoying mewing sound. He answered it, thinking he'd just have to tell the caller that the previous owner didn't own the phone anymore. Instead, what he hears on the other end of the line was a nasty, threatening voice asking who he was, what he was doing with the phone, and where he lived. Frightened, Nick hung up and quickly called Jen, only to have Call Waiting constantly beep in on their conversation. Disappointed with the first use of the cell phone, Nick turned it off for the night so it wouldn't ring and wake up his mother once she got home from work.

What follows is a nightmare for Nick. He is asked to gather supplies in order to help the persistent caller. The only way to get the supplies is to steal them, something he has never done before in his life. Having the cell phone leads him to lie to Jen, which is something else he has never done. He knows the phone isn't good for him, but he feels compelled to keep it, thinking he can save someone involved in this horrible mystery. In the end, his life unravels completely, leaving him in jail, sentenced to be executed, and eventually landing in Hell. However, with lessons he learned while he had the phone, Nick leads himself to a better place.

William Sleator has written a fast-paced horror novel that requires the reader to suspend disbelief and accept the story for what it is -- a thrilling read, not to be picked up right before bed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
All Nick wanted was a cell phone so he could talk to his girlfriend, Jen, in the evenings. What he got was a nightmare he would have never imagined. Nick's mother, who works hard every day, usually from daylight to sometime in the night, doesn't earn enough money to keep much food in the house, much less afford to keep the phone turned on. Nick works almost every day himself in the hospital cafeteria after school and has saved up money to buy a cell phone. After school one day, before he headed to work, Nick rode his bike to a store that was advertising used cell phones on a flyer he received in the mail. Once he walked in, Nick noticed that there weren't many phones on display that looked like they'd be cheap enough for him to buy. He only had fifty dollars for the phone and the minutes. When he told the salesperson how much he had to spend, there was only one phone that he would sell at that price. It surprised Nick that it looked pretty cool and he considered himself pretty lucky, even with the drawbacks. The drawbacks were that the Caller ID had been disabled and there were no returns or refunds. So, once he bought the phone he was stuck with it or just out the money. In the end, Nick decided to take the phone and paid for one-hundred-and-fifty minutes--and left the store. When Nick arrived home after work, his mother still wasn't home from her job so he used the time to make his first call to Jen. As soon as he turned it on, it rang with an annoying mewing sound. He answered it, thinking he'd just have to tell the caller that the previous owner didn't own the phone anymore. Instead, what he hears on the other end of the line was a nasty, threatening voice asking who he was, what he was doing with the phone, and where he lived. Frightened, Nick hung up and quickly called Jen, only to have Call Waiting constantly beep in on their conversation. Disappointed with the first use of the cell phone, Nick turned it off for the night so it wouldn't ring and wake up his mother once she got home from work. What follows is a nightmare for Nick. He is asked to gather supplies in order to help the persistent caller. The only way to get the supplies is to steal them, something he has never done before in his life. Having the cell phone leads him to lie to Jen, which is something else he has never done. He knows the phone isn't good for him, but he feels compelled to keep it, thinking he can save someone involved in this horrible mystery. In the end, his life unravels completely, leaving him in jail, sentenced to be executed, and eventually landing in Hell. However, with lessons he learned while he had the phone, Nick leads himself to a better place. William Sleator has written a fast-paced horror novel that requires the reader to suspend disbelief and accept the story for what it is -- a thrilling read, not to be picked up right before bed. **Reviewed by: Karin Perry
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you love suspence and horor, than you're going to love this book. I bought this book because it was written by one of my favorite authors and I needed a free reading book for english and I ended up reading it cover to cover in less than a week. William sleator has a way with words. He comes up the greatest story lines. Please get the book.