The Long Walk was better, albeit slower. Likewise, The Hunger Games was better, despite the obvious rip-offs from other works. Really, I think the only thing worth discussing about The Running Man is how it compares negatively to similar novels.
The concept, at least, was intriguing. Not original, though. Not even at the time it was written. Not even from the author himself, as he had written The Long Walk some years prior. Still, it was intriguing and showed potential. But perhaps that only inflated my disappointment when the story fell so flat.
Maybe The Long Walk used up all of the author’s creativity on the subject. Now that was a good story. It had nuance and character building–a deep look at the psyche of its protagonist. In comparison, The Running Man took just as much time to establish why the story was taking place, but not who the story was about or why we should care about him.
The Hunger Games–written many years later as a derivative work–filled in the gaps where this novel was strangely absent. The Running Man had nearly the same level of action and conspiracy, but fell short by spreading it out awkwardly and almost jamming the conspiracy in as an afterthought.
Maybe I’m just not getting it. I honestly can’t tell why this novel ever found success. But then, I wonder that about half of Stephen King’s work.
2.5 out of 5 stars