Rating: 4 / 5
The King Buddy Reads group on Instagram book for August was THE LONG WALK, one of the Bachman novels Stephen King wrote under his alias Richard Bachman before his secret identity was brought to light. This was a reread for me, but not one I remembered well, so I decided to read it again along with the group.
Each year on May 1st, a group of 100 teenage boys gather to compete in an event known as The Long Walk. With armed guards looking on, the boys must keep walking and keep up their pace. The winner gets whatever they want for the rest of their life, but the cost of the win is walking for days on end, outlasting 99 other boys. There is no option to drop out of the competition, there are no breaks. You get three warnings if you fall behind and if you don’t get back on track, you are eliminated, permanently.
This is a dark, dark tale which isn’t exactly a surprise coming from Stephen King. The story is compelling. You begin at the start of the walk with main character Roy Garraty and not much is known at that point about what he is getting into and why. Over time as the boys form alliances and friendships in their short acquaintances, they talk a bit more about their world and their backgrounds go give glimpses of the world. Things are kept intentionally vague which keeps you wanting to read and learn more.
Overall, I did really enjoy this book. I mentioned that the darkness of the tale wasn’t a surprise for King, but the brevity (at only about 350 pages) was. I think that led into my chief issue with the book in that I had hoped to get more answers than I did about the world around the walk. While we are given glimpses into a world that is similar to our own, but also very different in ways, this isn’t a book you go into if you want all the answers tied up for you in a nice, neat bow.