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10 thoughts on “The Long Walk

  1. says:

    If this book does not make you feel physical pain, I don t know what will.This isn t a book about killer clowns or haunted hotels It s not a Hunger Games type of book, despite the game show element of the Long Walk, nor is it a world attached to any tower, Dark or not This book is in your face and physical, while simultaneously never losing that dreamy, philosophic quality of existenstial fiction The premise of the book is very simple Every year, 100 boys enter a contest called the Long Walk, and the winner gets all his heart desires Each contestant has to maintain a pace of 4 miles per hour or , or else he gets a warning If the boy who gets the warning can keep walking 4 miles per hour or faster for the next hour, the warning is revoked However, if the boy collects three warnings, the next time he slows down, he s shot in the head and out of the game.I love this book, but it s really hard to communicate what I think it s trying to relate As I m writing this review, I m desperately trying to organize my jumbled thoughts The best I could do is to divide the book into two sections that broadly describe which parts of this book stood out to me the most The Deeper Meaning as I see it How it s Done and The People The Deeper Meaning as I see it How It s Done The physical aspect of the journey immediately comes to the spotlight You think you can outwalk 99 boys Well, despite the 100% chance of someone actually doing it, you re 99% going to be the one to die either from exhaustion or carelessness The story s downward spiral from the optimism of the first 10 hours to the torturous hell that is the last 10 hours is slow, relentless, and ultimately certain Some of the boys death were incredibly cringe worthy, not because their death was bizarre or fantastic, but because it s so damn relatable I can t relate to a woman running away from her ghost possessed husband as much as I can imagine my legs giving out after hours of walking in my own blood and pus But what s extraordinary about this novel is despite its physicality and its real grit, it s very spiritual and contemplative Ultimately, this book questions what it means to live through the eyes of one boy and 99 others who are walking right into the arms of death As the boys break down physically, their minds deconstruct past the point of madness until they become lifeless, soulless automatons I think it s at this point, when the boys are broken beyond exhaustion, that King really questions the value of life in the midst of such suffering, and how we push beyond sanity to sustain life King doesn t point at authority or paternal figures to place blame on how extraordinary and torturous this desire to live can be It s the walker who chooses to go on the Long Walk that, in the end, leads to death, no matter what we do And life isn t nice It won t slow down for you Got blisters on your feet Tough Can t climb that hill after walking 24 hours You d better Got to take a shit If it takes longer than three warnings, you re going to die with your pants around your ankles It seems, in this light, that life is much crueler than death The People Ah, the other great part about this book and what makes this book so amazing Unlike many of King s works, this book is not atmospheric With the exception of comments about the weather and the terrain obvious factors to consider when walking quite literally until death , the entire narrative is solely focused on the Long Walk itself and the people who are a part of it I was hesitant to shelf this book under dystopian because I don t really know if it s a dystopia All I know is that the Major, whoever he is, seems to be in charge how much, I don t know and the Long Walk is something celebrated by everyone who doesn t partake in it All we get to know is Garraty, the main character in the story, and the other boys he meets in the Long Walk None of these characters are forgettable Garraty, McVries, and even Barkovitch are some of the most developed, fleshed out characters that I ve had the pleasure of reading The boys interactions, teetering between the desire for the other to die and genuine camaraderie, were incredibly complex and touching Whenever I read about a gunshot, I desperately hoped that it wasn t one of the boys that I knew because they were so real and likeable Amid the hardship and torture, something about this book was very sincere, and despite what King may have intended, characters like McVries and Garraty made the journey extraordinarilyenjoyable, if not emotionally painful This book is something that will always remain in my mind Not only was the writing engaging and visceral, but it struck a chord deep within me Some people may not enjoy the book It s raw, painful, and depressing But on the other hand, it challenges, breaks, and strips bare the human soul, and ultimately the sympathy such an act invokes is an intense experience.5.0 stars and highly recommended

  2. says:

    4.5 Every time someone asks me which Stephen King book I would recommend, I mention this one After reading quite a few of his books, it s still my favorite The downward spiral into madness and overall despair were very well written Reading this book literally made my body ache I do wish there were a few details about the world, how the long walk came about, etc The ending wasn t fully satisfying, as seem to be most endings for SK, but I enjoyed the book anyway.

  3. says:

    Updated Review Re read May 2019Have you ever been watching a movie in the middle of summer that takes place in the middle of a very cold winter Even though it is 90 degrees outside you start to feel like you need to bundle up under a blanket That happened to me with the movie The Day After Tomorrow I had a similar response to The Long Walk As I read, I could feel the exhaustion and I was waiting for my legs to cramp When you can truly feel a book deep in your muscles and bones, you know it is a good one My audio re read of The Long Walk in May of 2019 marks the 3rd or 4th time I have read it It has always been one of my favorite dystopian novels and I have enjoyed it every single time Long before the dystopian government in America Panem made Katniss battle it out in the Hunger Games, Ray Garraty was dragging his feet across the hot macadam of the backroads and turnpikes of Maine All for what you ask The honor of participating the the oppressive government s premier event, the entertainment of the people, and the always elusive fulfilment of all your heart s desires.A few people that I recommended this to before didn t care for it, but it is definitely one of my top five favorite of King s and my favorite of his Bachman books Such great storytelling, character building, suspense, and dark narrative I have just always been so awed by this book and how much it has pulled me in over and over again and won t let go Read this But, you may want to avoid it if you are getting ready for a marathon or a big hike ORIGINAL REVIEWThis is one of my favorite King books Suspenseful, unique, and all too possible It is one of the few books that I have read than once Highly recommended for someone looking for a good place to start with King.

  4. says:

    To think something so dark and depressing could come out of a premise so simple.I ll keep this brief, Richard Bachman a pseudonym of Stephen King has made something short and great here The premise of the book is annually, 100 teenagers entered a competition called The Long Walk where they have to walk literally non stop until only one person remaining The winner gets to have anything they want It s a very simple premise and it somehow made Hunger Games looks like Disneyland The slow descent into madness and insanity are clearly shown step by step, the changes in the characters from when they began were shown gradually.This is truly a dark tale, sometimes even depressing The author s prose was great and descriptive The fatigue, the pain, and the gradual changes in the characters can be felt from the writing Not gonna lie, at one point, I felt my feet get tired from reading It s a very compelling story, I finished reading this in one day.The minor cons I had on the book was even though this is a really short book, there are still some parts that I felt goes on a bit longer than necessary during the first half of the book Also, the ending was too abrupt and a bit too ambiguous There are a lot of great fan theories on the ending though, so if you feel disappointed by it, I think one of this theory can put closure on the reader.Overall, I highly recommend this for anyone who s looking for a short, dark, engrossing, and a bit philosophical book You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic High Fantasy Sci Fi reviews at BookNest

  5. says:

    They walked through the rainy dark like gaunt ghosts, and Garraty didn t like to look at them They were the walking dead On the first day of May each year, one hundred boys will take part in The Long Walk Breaking the rules results in warnings More than three warnings and you ll get your ticket and you re out of the race.I ve felt for quite a while now that my top 10 Kings are pretty solid before reading this I had about 13 or 14 left to read and none of them really seem like possible contenders apart from maybe The Green Mile In particular, I never thought a goddamn Bachman book would break the top 10 we have a rocky relationship me and Bachman And yet here we are The Long Walk didn t just break into the top 10, but the top 5 From the outset I thought The Long Walk would just be another dystopian novel I say another quite loosely as surely this was one of the first , but boy was I wrong Below the surface, this book touches upon so many different themes and topics, like mortality, identity, friendship, and countless others If you ve followed my King journey you ll know that I m a huge fan of the books in which King tackles death, grief, loss and mortality That s kinda my wheelhouse All of these rank in my top 10 Pet Sematary, Duma Key, Lisey s Story, Bag of Bones and stories like The Woman in the Room and The Last Rung on the Ladder both of these appear in Night Shift, which is also on the list The Long Walk is heavy on both mortality and death.King started writing this when he was eighteen EIGHTEEN And yet this will surpass many of the books I read in my lifetime I m not sure how much editing was done between his first draft and when it was actually released, but either way, this is a fascinating idea for a book Only King could make the story of one hundred boys walking down a road so fucking nail biting and engrossing It is dripping with tension and dread My heart would be racing in my chest when some of those boys stumbled I would be screaming GET UP in my head So many King books have had an impact on me, but this has been one of the most impressive When I wasn t reading it, I was thinking about it or talking about it I almost wanted to stop strangers in the street and tell them all about the amazing book I was reading I had to settle for telling my boyfriend all about it instead but even then he was kinda like So shrugs and that s the thing The plot sounds interesting, yes, but it s the immersive experience you have when reading this one that really sticks with you It s the characters you get to know It s the looming black cloud of death that hangs over these boys I cried on countless occasions during this read death is a very real fear for me, and when I think of what these boys must have been going through, it got to be too much at times.As for the characters themselves, King has written them all in such a way that they re very individual, with their own personalities and traits McVries in particular stands out for me You get the impression he may not have been the best person in the world before this experience, but he becomes a really decent guy throughout the walk, he becomes someone for our main protagonist, Garraty, to lean on I love McVries 3 and Stebbins too It s a brutal read, it s heartbreaking, there are certain scenes you ll simply never forget but ultimately, it s worth it It also gave me one of the worst book hangovers I ve ever had, I m so thankful for podcasts and people online who will allow me to dwell in this story that King created for a little while longer It s emotionally exhausting and physically draining, but its monumental impact will stay with me forever.5 stars.

  6. says:

    I kind of blame Stephen King for reality television.That s not fair because he certainly wasn t the first person to do stories about murderous games done as entertainment, and it s not like he produced Survivor or Big Brother However, two of the books he did under the Richard Bachman pen name before being outed are about death contests done to distract the masses in dystopian societies So whenever I see an ad for those kinds of shows I can t help but think that the people who make that trash read those books but saw them as great TV concepts rather than horrifying visions of the future.The scenario here is that 100 teenage boys volunteer to be part of an annual event called The Long Walk The rules are simple You start walking and keep up a speed of 4 miles per hour If you fall below that pace you get a few warnings If you don t get back up to speed immediately, you get shot Easier than checkers, right Here s the real rub You absolutely cannot stop All 100 boys walk until 99 of them are killed Last one still teetering around on whatever is left of their feet then wins the ultimate prize On the surface you could say that this concept that could seem silly or absurd Why would anyone volunteer for this Answering that question turns out to be one of the best parts of the book as King moves the walkers through stages while things get progressively worse for them on the road What King tapped into here is that realization that deep down we all think we re special, that things will always work out for us, and this is especially true when we re teens with no real ideas about consequences and our own mortality While the story focuses on one character it really becomes about all of the walkers, and we get to know them through their conversations and how they deal with the death that is literally nipping at their heels Eventually the grim reality of their situation sets in, and we also view how the boys react to realizing the true horror they signed up for We also learn a bit about the world they live in, and it s an interesting minor aspect established in a few stray bits that this is essentially some kind of alternate history where World War II played out somewhat differently I d read this several times back in the 80s and 90s, but hadn t picked it up in the 21st century so it felt like there s a dated element to the way that Long Walk functions The boys essentially just show up in whatever clothes they have and they start walking with little fanfare It almost seems like a contest at a county fair instead of something that captures the nation s attention There s some explanation given about how they don t want crowds or TV cameras around as distractions at the start until the walkers get settled into the routine However, that doesn t seem to fit with the idea that the event is being orchestrated as a distraction and weird kind of motivational tool If the story were told now there would be a lot about the media coverage, and the whole thing would probably have a corporate sponsor Plus, the walkers would have matching shoes and uniforms designed to look cool and keep them walking longer They d also probably have a sophisticated method than soldiers with rifles and stopwatches dispatching the lollygaggers, too This doesn t hurt the story at all, though Instead it gives the whole thing a kind of dated charm like watching a movie from the 70s where everyone is smoking and people have to wait by the phone.One note about Stephen King The man really needs to have a spoiler warning branded on his forehead I had to stop following him on Twitter after he spoiled major events on both Game of Thrones and Stranger Things My friend Trudi had part of The Killer Inside Me ruined for her by King s introduction in which he described several key twists I was listening to an audible version of this that had an intro from him talking about why he did the whole Richard Bachman thing In it, he casually gives away the end of The Running Man novel Fortunately for me I d already read that one, but Uncle Stevie clearly just doesn t get the concept and why it pisses people off.Overall, The Long Walk held up to my memories of it as one of the better King books as well as having a chilling idea at the heart of it Sure, some might say that the idea of contest that dehumanizes people for entertainment to make things easier for a fascist ruler is far fetched On the other hand, this TV show will be premiering a few days after a certain orange pile of human shaped garbage takes power.https watch v OTNZrIt s a Richard Bachman world, people Get ready to walk Or maybe run.

  7. says:

    The Long Walk is simply exhausting to read I found myself keep drifting in and out of sleep, needing to eat, drink, and use the bathroom But most of all, my feet ached a little after each page This is not because the book was bad and that I was losing attention, it was simply because I was so involved in the story I was walking WITH them.The premise is simple and I m sure if you re reading this review you re aware of what its about The fact that the story is so simple, allows for it to become deeper on so many different levels.At the end of the book I found myself questioning everything, not because the ending left me unfulfilled but because it made me realise so much about life.The Long Walk is depressing, exhausting and brutal But ultimately it is a beautiful story that makes you aware how great it is to be alive.At this time of writing this review 1st August 2007 , the rights to making a film have been bought by Frank Darabont, director of the Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile I read The Long Walk as part of the Richard Bachman compilation of 4 novels, Rage, The Long Walk, Roadwork and The Running Man.

  8. says:

    They re animals, all right But why are you so goddam sure that makes us human beings They walked through the rainy dark like gaunt ghosts, and Garraty didn t like to look at them They were the walking dead How much do I love this book There are too many ways to count actually, which is why no matter how many re reads I ve done of it and there have been many over the years , The Long Walk has always left me too intimidated to review it I managed a brief blurb of something when I listened to the audiobook a few years back, but never a real review So heaven help me, here s my real review According to King, he wrote The Long Walk while in college in 1966 67 and it became one of those drawer novels that got put away to gather dust when he couldn t get it published King wasn t a household name yet of course First, he had to publish Carrie in 1974 Then Salem s Lot in 1975 Followed by The Shining in 1976 In three short years King became a household name So much so that he got the idea to become Richard Bachman King decided he would use this pseudonym to resurrect a few of those dusty drawer novels and rescue them from obscurity He believed they were good for me, two of them are better than good, they are outstanding The Long Walk and The Running Man according to King written in a 72 hour fugue in 1971 But King wanted to know readers thought the books were good because they were good, not just because his name was on the front cover in giant letters His publisher at the time also didn t want to flood the market with King books when he was already churning them out one a year Hence, Bachman was born these were the days before James Patterson decided it was okay to publish 20 books a year and only write one of them yourself The Long Walk is easily, hands down my favorite Bachman book, but it also ranks as one of my favorite King books period Top 5 without even blinking an eye It s lean and mean, with a white hot intensity to it What I love about The Long Walk is what I love about King s early short stories collected in Night Shift There is a rawness in these stories that reflects the drive and hunger of a young man consumed with his craft For me The Long Walk has always burned bright as if King wrote it in a fever There s a purity in these pages, a naked desire to tell the tale that still gives me chills every single time I pick up the damn book and read that opening sentence An old blue Ford pulled into the guarded parking lot that morning, looking like a small, tired dog after a hard run Clumsy Sure A bit of an awkward simile Absolutely But what a hook And the hook only digs itself in deeper as each page is turned Until finishing becomes a matter of have to, any choice or free will stripped away It s one of those books that grabs you by the short hairs and doesn t let go until it s finished with you Before the dystopian craze spawned by The Hunger Games trilogy, before the rise of reality TV with shows like Survivor, King imagined an alternate history American landscape where an annual walking competition would become the nation s obsession One hundred boys between the ages 16 18 start out walking, and continue to walk at 4mph until there s only one remaining the winner Boys falling below speed for any reason get a Warning Three Warnings get you your Ticket, taking you out of the race Permanently It s walk or die And as someone who s done her fair share of walking, the idea of that much walking without ever stopping makes my feet and back ache just thinking about it.But King will make you do than think about it, he will make you walk that road with those boys, to experience every twinge of discomfort, to feel the rising pain and suffocating fear, to suffer with the boys in sweat, and cold, and hunger, and confusion, as they walk towards Death and consider their own mortality You will hear the sharp cracks of the carbine rifles and your heart will jump and skip beats One theme that King has revisited over the years is writing about the human body under brutalizing physical duress, at the body in extremis and what humans are hardwired to do to survive and go on living another day Excruciating physical peril undeniably comes with a psychological component and no one writes that better than King We see it in books like Misery, Gerald s Game and the short story Survivor Type King uncovers all the nitty gritty minutia of human physical suffering and asks the question How far is any one person willing to go to keep on taking his or her next breath Stephen King knows pretty damn far Just ask Paul Sheldon or Ray Garraty Or the castaway in Survivor Type him most of all King also knows that the human body has an amazing capacity for trauma It can withstand a lot so much so that the mind often breaks first Each chapter heading of The Long Walk quotes a line from a game show host, but the one that really sticks out and presumably gave King his idea in the first place is this one by Chuck Barris, creator of the The Gong Show The ultimate game show would be one where the losing contestant would be killed And isn t that the truth Certainly, the Romans knew this as they cheered for Gladiators to be mauled to death by wild animals or other Gladiators Just ask the French who cheered and jeered as thousands were led to their deaths by guillotine There is an insatiable blood lust that lingers in humans that I don t think we ll ever shake completely, no matter how civilized we think we ve become Violence as entertainment is part of the norm, so I have no problems believing that under the right terrifying conditions, death as entertainment could become just as normalized Outwit, Oulast, Outplay on Survivor suddenly takes on a whole new meaning One of the things I ve always loved about this book is how King handles the audience as spectators, complicit in this cold blooded murder of its young boys When the novel first starts, the spectators are individuals, with faces and genders and ages As the story progresses, spectators increase in number to the crowd , loud and cheering, holding signs By the novel s climax, spectators filled with blood lust have morphed into a raging body of Crowd with a capital C It is an amorphous and frightening entity that moves and seethes with singular purpose obsessed with the spectacle, and baying for blood like a hound on the scent It s chilling because there s such a ring of truth to all of it Were it to ever happen, this is how it would happen When King is writing at his best, the devil is always in the details Another aspect of the story that has always engaged me is the boys compulsion to join the Walk and be complicit in their own execution I ve always wanted to ask King if he meant this story to be an allegory for young boys signing up to die in Vietnam considering he wrote it as Vietnam was heating up and on the nightly news I think naivety and ignorance got a lot of the boys to The Walk, including Garraty I think young people especially young men believe themselves to be invincible, that death is not something that can happen to them no matter the odds or circumstances I m sure no boy went to Vietnam thinking he would come home in a body bag, though many of them did If it s not obvious by now, I could talk about this book until the sun burns itself out, or the zombies rise up And I haven t even touched upon its possible links to the Dark Tower Which I will do now under a spoiler tag If you haven t yet, read this book If you have a reluctant teen reader in your life, give them this book If it s been a long time since you ve read this book, don t you think it s time to read it again The Long Walk and possible links to the DT Universe view spoiler It s important to remember that TLW is a VERY early book for King, that pre dates his beginning to write of a Dark Tower which in the afterward to The Gunslinger he says was 1970 BUT and this is a big but , I find it credible to believe that before King ever put pen to paper in regards to Roland and his quest, or to ever imagine a man in black, King had the seeds and themes of these ideas percolating in the back of his writer s brain already I didn t always think so until I read The Dark Man An Illustrated Poem King wrote this poem in college and it is in essence Randall Flagg s origin story Which brings us to that dark shadowy figure that s beckoning to Garraty at the end of The Long Walk It is very dark man , man in black , Walkin Dude Flagg like Whether it is or not, we ll never know If he hasn t by now, I m sure King has no plans to confirm or deny it Something else to consider Constant Readers TLW flirts with being an alternate history because of this passage The lights filled the sky with a bubblelike pastel glow that was frightening and apocalyptic, reminding Garraty of the pictures he had seen in the history books of the German air blitz of the American East Coast during the last days of World War II The date April 31st is also used So here s a question is this alternate history or do you suppose King had already started experimenting with the idea of other worlds than these And one passage that jumped out at me on this re read that felt very Dark Tower like Garraty had a vivid and scary image of the great god Crowd clawing its way out of the Augusta basin on scarlet spider legs, and devouring them all alive The scarlet spider legs reminded me of the Crimson King Stretching, maybe But it s fun to think about hide spoiler

  9. says:

    Every year, 100 boys take part in a nightmarish pilgrimage called The Long Walk, the winner receiving The Prize and a ton of cash Ray Garraty is one of the contestants Will he win The Prize or be one of the ninety nine dead boys on the road Wow And I thought the six mile hike I went on in October was rough Imagine walking non stop, day and night, and getting shot if you stop too long That s the horror of The Long Walk.The Long Walk takes place in a slightly different reality, where Germany had a nuclear reactor in Santiago in 1953, and where the Major runs a spectacle ever year, The Long Walk The Long Walk seems like an ancestor of The Hunger Games in some ways, although the Long Walk seems to be voluntary.Unlike the Hunger Games, this book is pretty brutal Imagine having to go to the bathroom in front of a crowd of spectators while continuously walking And never being able to sleep And seeing people gunned down in front of you after they ve been warned three times Like I said, pretty brutal.As usual, Stephen King crafts an interesting cast Garraty, McVries, Stebbins, Barkovitch, Scramm, the list is pretty long for a short book Part of the brutality is that you don t know whose ticket is going to get punched next I really wanted to give this a five but I couldn t My lone problem with this one was the dialogue So many of the boys sounded like they were in their twenties or thirties rather than being teenagers Usually, I find King s dialogue a lot realistic but it pulled me out of the story a few times 4.5 out of 5 I m going to track down of these Bachman books of King s now.

  10. says:

    This is Stephen King at his creepy best I m on vacation and I ripped through this in a day As I read, the water became less blue, the beach became less sunny, the drinks stopped getting the job doneLOL You get the idea, getting pulled into Stephen King s world, even for a day, is a dark, dark place Also Suzanne Collins ripped off Stephen King so obviously in writing The Hunger Games that I have secondhand embarrassment for her.