The premise sounded absurdly simplistic and boring. One hundred kids in a post-apocalyptic dystopian setting volunteer each year to participate in an event called “The Long Walk.” The winner gets prizes and the losers are all shot. Ok, so the threat of death isn’t boring, but how do you write a story based on a bunch of kids just walking? Yep, that’s the entirety of the book. Just walking. Lots and lots of it.
But it’s Stephen King. While I despise the idea of reading an author because of their popularity, I can understand the source of King’s acclaim. He’s good. Crazy good. Like, make a story about walking–and only about walking–compelling sort of good.
Of course, the story is interesting because of the writing style, because of the relationships portrayed, and because of the main character’s thoughts that are explored so deeply. In the end, the book is right up my alley. In fact, I even prefer the underwhelming setting. Aside from the sheer fun of writing something so ballsy, it’s just enjoyable to be able to focus so intently on thoughts and characters. And since I enjoy writing it, I enjoy reading it too.
Of course, if you’re looking for this “Hunger Games” ancestor to have the same thrills in the action itself, you’ll probably feel let down. So don’t look for that. Read this book if you want a good novel with a deep dive into a character’s psyche as they face the near certainty of death. Like a war story in a different setting and starring kids.
5 out of 5 stars