Title: The Long Walk
Author: Stephen King (Richard Bachman)
Publication Date: 1979
Review Score: 7.5/10
Set in an alternative dystopian present, The Long Walk is a grueling annual walking contest in which 100 boys compete to win anything their heart desires…but there can be only one winner. The rules are simple, just keep walking at a pace of 4 miles an hour, don’t interfere with your fellow walkers, no outside help and don’t try and leave the walk. Slow down too much or break a rule, you get a warning, three warning are you buy your ticket.
So the question is, how far would you walk to stay alive?
One of the four books published by Stephen King under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, it plays with similar ideas to one of the others, The Running Man, in that it takes reality game shows to a point where death is not just possible but it seen as the highest level of entertainment.
I think what’s so captivating about this idea is that it doesn’t feel as if it’s a million miles away from what is actually possible in modern society. No we don’t have people dying on TV, but give people the chance to win money and they will put themselves through hell. It makes you wonder, if this was real would there be 100 people out there willing to participate?
The story itself centers around a Walker named Garraty, who entered the competition against the wishes of his mother and girlfriend. He is joined by a group of characters who all appear to be on the walk for different reasons, and although some soon become close companions, it’s hard to remain friends when you’re all needing the other’s around you die.
I must say this was a truly gripping book, I struggled to put it down and blitzed through it much quicker than normal. The idea behind it is brilliant and as always with King the way he unravels the story keeps you on the edge of your seat. All the way through I was thinking that this was definitely going to be my first 10/10 on The Book Reviewer but then I hit the last 2 pages.
I don’t want to give anything away about the end, as I would recommend this book to anyone, but similarly to the the TV show Lost, it’s all about the journey, the end falls flat, is too abrupt and doesn’t do justice to the amazing story that precedes it.
I would definitely read it again, just for the journey, as that alone is fantastic but I won’t soon forget the disappointment I was left with at the end.