On the first day of May, 100 teenage boys meet for a race known as "The Long Walk". If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, what happens is absolutely terrifying...
This dystopian-style thriller novel is brutal - there's physical death, sure, but the brutality is more through the struggles of walking so ridiculously far, the psychology of the warnings and not knowing when the next person would fall. Even the horrors of squatting quickly in the street and using the bathroom in front of a crowd. Awful stuff.
You'd think it would be hard to fill a book with a "walk", but King manages it well through tension, suspense, dialogue, developed friendships, different personality types colliding, and the limitations of the human body. I know I definitely couldn't have made it far. Someone told me it was an analogy with the Vietnam war and so many signing up with idealized, youth-filled hope. During the walk itself the boys realized they made a mistake in signing up, that it was too late, that it was horrible, and ended up resenting the crowds, Mayor and those who ran the walk. Would have been so nice to be able to slaughter the crowds and those soldiers! Sickening.
The characters were well-sketched, and I grew attached to some of them. I had no idea who would go and when. King likes shifting POV but he keeps it straight through the main character Garrity this time.
The book was interesting and engaging, although there was some small issues. One is the bizarre focus on sex. I know these are teenage boys but some of this felt misplaced. Also a little of it grew tiresome after awhile, and it was such a bleak feel that is normal in dystopians, but hard to enjoy and follow enough for a higher rating. Also I'd like to have known more details on some of the mains and why they chose to join the walk.
“Any game looks straight if everyone is being cheated at once.”