*This Review is Spoiler Free*
The Long Walk was originally published under Stephen King’s pen name, Richard Bachman and was actually my first Stephen King novel. Recently (October) I did a review of The Shining, by the same author and mentioned that I had read this novel and would be doing a review in the upcoming months, so here goes it! The Long Walk has an incredibly simple premise, once a year 100 boys gather on a road to participate in the ‘Long Walk’. Each boy enters into this race determined to be the winner and must walk until the other 99 boys have received their tickets and are out of the race. The idea of receiving a ticket sounds kind of appealing, that is, until you realize that said ticket is not for a first class trip back home after failing to complete the race. Getting a ticket means you get a one-way trip to the after-life. On the bright side it’s free, well…it will only cost you your life.
To be completely honest I was expecting to be bored reading this novel and/or to find it difficult to remain interested in having a protagonist that did nothing but walk the entire story. Surprisingly enough that wasn’t the case at all. I feel like I should be ashamed to say this, but it was interesting (…and shall I go as far as to say enjoyable) to experience the mental and physical breakdown of the 100 boys, in particular, the main protagonist Ray. The reader gets to live vicariously through Ray and witness the deterioration of the other ‘Long Walk’ participant.
Another thing that I was expecting, based entirely on the fact that this is a Stephen King novel, was a certain level of horror or gore. The novel does not deliver on that front, and in-fact only has one ‘gory’ scene for the entire novel (well that is if you are as desensitized to literary violence as I am, and forget that teenage boys being shot on a road technically classifies as gore/horror for all the sane unicorns of society. I blame all those years of Fantasy reading!). The novel does deliver on elements of a psychological thriller and some degree of suspense. Stephen King does a really good job of engaging the reader by developing the characters in this novel. Trust me…this book could have gone horribly wrong if the characters had not been as individual and fleshed out as they were. The reader is able to quickly develop a relationship with the main characters and you anticipate learning more about each boy, about the ‘Long Walk’ itself, and about how they are all going to fair throughout the race.
I can very easily understand why this novel may not be for everyone. Nothing happens…they walk, they deteriorate, 99 boys get shot, one boy ‘wins’, and then the conclusion itself leaves you with even more questions. I would say that if you have read this review (or others), the premise seems intriguing, and you are able to read books that are character driven and not entirely plot based then you may enjoy this book. The Long Walk is a difficult book for me to rate, but that is the point of these reviews lol…so, I must come to a decision and cease aimlessly staring at the screen. I give this novel 7 out of a possible 10 Unicorn Horns. Overall, I admire the development and respect what the author was able to achieve, but the novel wasn’t especially outstanding, thus I can not give it a higher rating.