Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Long Walk by Stephen King

The Long Walk is the first novel I have read by Stephen King and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was under the assumption that all of King’s books were all about horror, gore and terror. Clearly mistaken.

The Long Walk is about just that…a long walk. 100 strong bodied boys volunteer to walk in this national past time…about pride, strength and courage. The rules are that the pace must be kept at 4 miles per hour, no resting and you are provided food supplements once every 24-hours; however, you may ask for a canteen or water whenever you wish. If a Walker cannot keep his pace, then he is given a warning. After three warnings, the walker is shot dead. It does not matter if he passes out, gets a cramp, has a seizure or his legs go out. Have to urinate? Open the pants and do it at 4 miles an hour. Have to defecate? A Walker usually got at least one warning doing this.

The public line the streets cheering on these boys, placing bets on who will win. They are not allowed to interfere with the Walkers or provide any extra treats, such as fruit or sodas. If they are caught doing so, they are arrested.

The boys are followed through their entire journey by a truck full of military men, waiting to blow their brains out.

Many of the Walkers went insane. A few turned vigilante. And some just sat down when they were finished and waited for their ticket.

The ending wasn’t clean cut. King left it open for interpretation. I think the winner died of exhaustion, but after my brief google search, others think he just went crazy at the end. Some think that there is no winner and once the last Walker is left, the Major (the revered psychopath in charge of this event) shoots him.

No matter what the ending, my enjoyment of the novel is unchanged. It was great—it reminded me a bit of the Hunger Games, actually, just better written—and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for their next good read.

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