Author: Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
Genre: Adult Thriller, Dystopian
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“They walked through the rainy dark like gaunt ghosts, and Garraty didn't like to look at them. They were the walking dead.”My Thoughts
― Stephen King, The Long Walk
On the first day of May, one hundred teenage boys meet for an event known throughout the country as "The Long Walk," a deadly contest of endurance and determination, where each step could literally be their last. If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, what happens is absolutely terrifying. (Goodreads)
The Long Walk was written under Stephen King's pen name Richard Bachman, and this is actually my first Bachman read. From what I've heard, the Bachman books tend to be darker and more violent (and we thought King's books couldn't get any darker). My friend, the one who lent me this book, has been very persuasive lately in convincing me to read Stephen King books I have put off reading for too long.
The Long Walk exceeded my expectations just like any other King book. It was phenomenal. It's basically a bleaker, more horrific version of The Hunger Games. So if you thought The Hunger Games was shocking, you ain't seen nothing yet.
In The Long Walk, 100 boys, well, take a long walk. And this walk is longer than any distance we'd be comfortable with. They start in Maine and the end goal is Florida but no Long Walk in history has ever even gotten that far; usually, they barely make it past the New Hampshire border. Each boy is given three warnings. If your pace falls under 4 mph, you get a warning. If you stumble, a warning. If you try to interfere with another boy's walking, a warning. When you reach three warnings, you buy a ticket. And I'm not talking about a ticket to the cinema. You buy a bullet to the head. Only one boy will win the final Prize: basically anything he desires.
So why would anyone in their right mind do this? Good question, and it's one I was trying to find an answer for throughout the whole book. I wasn't alone. As the boys walk, they talk quite a bit. They make friends, and, unfortunately, enemies. And many of them cannot think of a good reason for why exactly they're putting their lives on the line. For the prize? Or are they all suicidal? If you like psychological exploration and a search for some deeper meaning to our actions, then you'll be a happy camper. I definitely was. The characters are so richly developed and so complex. I loved them and I hated them. I wanted to save each and every one of them. There were many times when I was on the verge of tears.
The Long Walk is a heartrending, disturbing, and painful read. There are very few people who could read this and feel absolutely nothing. King has somehow mastered a perfect blend of dark humor and raw poignancy. I felt for these characters. I became very attached to main characters, like Garraty, Stebbins, McVries, and so many others. I hated seeing them suffer, but I also enjoyed the small pleasures they managed to find on this challenging journey. And there's so much mystery behind their actions. Why are they doing this? Why would anyone accept this? But people do, and they celebrate it like a marathon. They make bets and cheer on the walker from their homestate. It's sickening but also fascinating. King really digs into the mysteries of human nature.
And that ending. If you read this book, you'll understand, and we should chit chat about that ending. At first, I was completely floored, but now I'm amazed. It really leaves you thinking.
If you're a Stephen King fan, a lover of horror, or just need a great book, read The Long Walk. It's definitely worth checking out, and it's so short considering a King book's usual page length.