Author: Stephen King (written as Richard Bachman)
Published by: Hodder
Publication date: 1st August 1987
This is only the second book I have read by Stephen King, and it really defined how far apart YA books and Adult books are. It is written in a very different style to what I'm used to, which resulted in me having mixed feelings about this book.
The 'Long Walk' is a fictional annual event in the US, where 100 teenage boys from all around the country participate. They walk to the death - no breaks, no opportunities to sit down, just pure walking until there is only one boy left. If you sit down, or slow down, or try to run away, you will be shot, no questions asked. The boys get a few tubes of concentrate every morning, but that has to last until the next morning. If they need the toilet, they have to do it whilst they're walking, no matter what exactly they have to do...
This isn't really a horror story, but it is very gory, quite brutal and scarily realistic. Stephen King is also renowned for generally being a horror writer, so I thought one of his books would be perfect to review for Halloween Week. I read one of his other books, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon when I was 9 (I was a pretty mature reader for my age) and really, really loved it. However, 'The Long Walk' wasn't quite as good, in my opinion.
This book is kind of like The Hunger Games, in the way that a group of teens are competing to the death. At the same time it isn't like The Hunger Games at all because a group of the boys actually make friends even under such dire circumstances, which I liked. The book showed how - under pressure - your mind can push you on past limits you never even knew you possessed.
A lot of the things in this book went way over my head. I think it's partly because it's set in America so they used American terms (although I've never had this problem with American books I've read before). I was constantly asking my Mum - who read it years ago - what things meant and her answer was usually 'They say that over there.' Had I completely understood everything, I'm sure I would have enjoyed this loads more. Obviously that's not the author's fault, but mine! Another problem I had was that this seems to have no sub-plots, which is something I haven't experienced before, so I always felt like something was lacking. 'The Long Walk' is officially a short story (even though it's 400 pages...) and short stories generally only have one main plot, so I understand that.
This story was so slow. Honestly, it's a 400 page book and about 200 pages in, I felt like it should have finished already. I only kept reading because I wanted to find out who won the walk (so I guess King did something right). The slow pace made the story lose tension, I thought, and that really disappointed me. I think I would have enjoyed the novel as a whole a lot better had it been faster paced or a bit shorter. Because of this, I'm going to have to give 'The Long Walk' 3/5. The concept was brilliant, but sadly it just wasn't for me! I know people who absolutely loved it though, so I guess it's one of those books that is a bit like Marmite. ;)
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