After the disappointment of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol (I really enjoyed all his other stuff), I wanted to read something that I knew I’d enjoy. So I dusted off an old favorite (at least metaphorically, it was an ebook) and fired up Stephen King’s The Long Walk.
Apparently set in a alternate history United States, and originally published in 1979 under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, The Long Walk follows a group of 100 teenage boys as they participate in, you guessed it, The Long Walk.
The Long Walk works something like this: On the morning of May 1st of each year, 100 boys, chosen by lottery from all eligible applicants, gather on the Maine/Canada border, and at 9am start walking down the road. They need to maintain a speed of four miles per hour, and if they fall below that limit for a total of 30 seconds, they get a warning. After their third warning, 30 more seconds under the limit and they get “ticketed”.
There are no breaks of any sort, and they’re not allowed to interfere with each other, or leave the road. The last boy to avoid being ticketed is declared the winner, and receives The Prize, anything he wants for the rest of his life.
In the book, the winner makes it over 400 miles.
You might wonder how interesting it could be to read about guys walking down a road for 384 pages, but if you’re a fan of King’s style, you’ll like this one. The interaction between the walkers is great, and even though the world the Walk takes place in is only explained in conversational tidbits, enough is revealed to rank it fairly high on the list of twisted dystopias.
In any case, it’s short, easily available, and a pretty fast read, so if you’re in the mood for something other than the usual action-packed spectacle, I heartily recommend this one.