Jun 6, 2011

The Long Walk, by Stephen King

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding..

I've never been a fan of walking, jogging, running, or any sort of knee-torturing activity. Just the title "The Long Walk" sounded like everything unpleasant and bad (dystopia) to me. Stephen King wrote the novel under the pen-name Richard Bachman in 1979. It's over 300 pages of walking. Ray Garraty joins a throng of 100 teenage boys on a walk to the death--a competition invented by the government with rules more strict than bootcamp. Goal: walk until you drop. If a Walker drops below 4mph and gathers three warnings, he receives his "ticket". A bullet to the head. The last boy walking at the end receives whatever he wants for the rest of his life.

Everyday annoyances like blisters, hunger, using the restroom, tripping, sleepiness, leg-cramps, and headaches suddenly become death-threats to the boys forcing their bodies into a state of mental and physical insanity. Garraty struggles with the possibility of, not only his own death, but the death of his new Walker friends. There's no backing out and he doesn't know if he can make it.

Recommended to me by a fellow dystopian-fan, I picked it up hesitantly but with curiosity. I've never read a Stephen King book before. Even though he's famous and a brilliant writer, I'm not a fan of his genre. This book, though not a horror novel, followed the same lines of the horror genre. The plot is unique and extremely well-written. I found myself constantly wondering how the boys were doing when I wasn't reading the novel (even though they're fictitious). Twice, I almost stopped reading because of language and other content, but I just had to know how it turned out.

The ending was disappointing. So disappointing, that I actually dreamed that there was another chapter that I'd miss that might hold the real conclusion. Many of my questions were left unanswered, like, "Why did Garraty decide to join the Walk?" and "What happens to his girl and his mother?"
King included a lot of swearing, sexual content (non-romantic, but very crude), and horrific descriptions--appropriate for the dark, negative feel of the story. If it were a movie, it'd be rated "R" and I would not be inclined to watch it. The characters made a lot of confusing references to God, both in context of His authority and out of authority-context through swearing and random statements.

I would not recommend this book. There is no hope in the story, which is why it falls perfectly under the harshest form of "dystopian"--acceptable and rightly labeled, but not a recommended read. From a Christian point of view, I would never recommend it to anyone, but in an overall point of view I would hold my stance. I don't encourage anyone to read spiritually or emotionally oppressive literature. There is little truth or benefit from it, especially if you understand the hope that is in Christ.

Dystopian novel number 2, down and defeated. On to the next!

Violence Level: ***** (very graphic)

Romance Level: ***** (this is on a "sexual content" level, not necessarily "romantic")
Christian Focus: *
Readability Level: ***
Story Depth Level: ***
Recommendation: *

For a more detailed explanation of the above ratings, visit the 6-Point Nutshell post.

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases 2014 from Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.