Review: The Running Man by Richard Bachman

Friday, December 7, 2012 12:51 PM
Title: The Running Man
Author: Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
Published: 1982
Genre: Adult Thriller, Dystopian
Pages: 241
Rating: 5 stars
Source: Borrowed
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“In the year 2025, the best men don't run for president, they run for their lives. . . .”
― Stephen King, The Running Man

It's not just a game when you're running for your life.

Every night they tuned in to the nation's favorite prime-time TV game show.

They all watched, from the sprawling polluted slums to the security-obsessed enclaves of the rich. They all watched the ultimate live death game as the contestants tried to beat not the clock, but annihilation at the hands of the Hunters. Survive thirty days and win a billion dollar jackpot - that was the promise. But the odds were brutal and the game rigged. Best score so far was eight days.

And now there was a new contestant, the latest Running Man, staking his life while a nation watched. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Once again, Stephen King has blown me away with his writing. The Running Man was a fast-paced, action-packed thrill of a ride! As you can imagine, seeing as the book is a run for your life scenario, there is not a single dull moment. From beginning to finish, I was fascinated with the world King so grimly portrays - a world that enjoys watching a man get hunted down by the entire population. And that premise! So creative! So wild! The Running Man reality show makes Survivor look like a walk in the park. I'd rather be sitting on some island eating white rice with lice in my hair than ever be in Ben's position.

This thriller is about so much more than a reality show. It also explores the darker sides of mankind. Who could enjoy watching this show and still call themselves human? It raises some disturbing questions about the baser side of human nature. While Richards is assisted by some, there are many bad guys in this book. Actually, it's very hard to pinpoint just one villain in The Running Man when there are so many people out to kill Richards. And is Richards himself the villain for doing whatever he has to to stay alive? For Richards, the stakes are higher than a billion dollar jackpot. His very life is on the line and it's a matter of survival.

The world building in The Running Man is fantastic. While this futuristic world has recorders with cassettes, I was able to overlook that seeing as the book was released in 1982. In The Running Man, the reader is given a detailed look at the slums of the future. In this imagined future, America is overrun with poverty and pollution. The privileged and rich ignore the consequences of their actions and distract the public with game shows. The upper class scapegoats the poor, painting them as ugly, lazy bums who deserve the lives they live. All of it was very realistic, considering our own environmental concerns. The game shows were just as horrifying as they were humiliating. One game show had the terminally ill run on treadmills. After having seen how popular Wipe Out, Fear Factor, and other reality shows have become, I didn't find these too far off.

And that ending! Wow! That ending was epic! That's all I have to say.

If you are a Stephen King fan or a lover of thrills, definitely check out this book. You won't be disappointed.

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