Book Review Wednesday: The Long Walk – Stephen King (5 stars)

Posted: November 5, 2014 in Book Reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

First of all, a warning. I found the ending to this story so sad, as soon as I finished it my mind went ‘nope’ and promptly rewrote it. In my version our main character: Ray Garraty and the character he grew closest to: Peter McVries kept each other going until they were the last two. Then they found a loophole by falling down at the same time. Since a victor was needed, they were both allowed to live (although the rules would surely be changed the next time around.) They then spend the rest of their lives being best friends and helping each other through their ordeal.

In my head that’s what happened! If you start talking about the real version I’m prepared to cover my ears and chant ‘I’m not listening’ over and over again until you stop. You will not take my vaguely happy ending from me.

To see what the real ending was, you just need to look at the blurb:

On the first day of May, 100 teenage boys meet for a race known as ?The Long Walk.? If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, what happens is absolutely terrifying…

A hint? Only one victor is needed, and they basically get anything they need for the rest of their life.

I’ve heard people criticize this book by saying  that no one would volunteer for something like this. I’m not so sure. America’s a pretty big place to find a hundred idiots. And as Stephen King points out through the characters, people (particularly young people) tend to think they’re immortal. You’d go into this thinking of the prize, not the other kind of prize that awaits you after your third warning.

The characters have a long time to think about why they volunteered for this, and it’s interesting to look at some of the reasons. I’m reminded of teenagers who do stupid stunts like jump from cliffs into water, try to jump over moving cars, or play with guns. Is it because they didn’t think things through, because they loathe themselves on some level and have a death wish, or just because they were bored?  The guys in this story mention all these reasons at some point, and it provides an in depth look on areas of our own society.

Stephen King uses a more intimate POV in this story than he usually does. That and the rich characters made me feel like I was seeing a lot deeper into the characters than I usually do. Some like Garraty and McVries I couldn’t help but fall in love with. And I ended up liking most of the others we’re introduced to. With the exception of one hateful guy, but even with him I didn’t want him to end up the way he did.

Reading this, my feet hurt, I was thirsty, hungry, tired, too hot, too cold. But most of all my heart ached for these guys who were in such extreme conditions that they couldn’t help form friendships, only to know they’d lose them soon enough, and most likely their own lives too. I think this one has earned the new title of my favorite Stephen King book ever (although I’m never reading it again because of the ending.)

For more reviews on this book check out: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9014.The_Long_Walk

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