Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Long Walk Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1999
|New from||Used from|
Collectible Books by Stephen King
Discover rare, signed and first editions by Stephen King. Learn More.
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
From Publishers Weekly
Ray Garraty--along with 99 other teen boys--has entered the Long Walk, a grueling march at four miles per hour that continues until only one person is standing. The losers receive bullets to the head. As the march progresses, the numbers dwindle, the challenges of continued marching increase, and the senselessness wears on the participants' state of mind. King (writing as his alter ego, Richard Bachman) delivers another psychologically dark tale with commentary on society, teenage life, and cultural entertainment that is still poignant decades after its original publication. Kirby Heyborne's skills shine in the narrative passages, which he executes with a good mixture of rhythm and emphasis. Heyborne's light and youthful-sounding voice exudes the needed attitude of the mostly male adolescent characters. However, some of his character voices for the teens feel created just for the sole purpose of clearly distinguishing them, rather than matching voice organically to personality. His female voices lack substance, but since there are so few of them, listeners will not be too distracted. A Signet paperback.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A master storyteller." - Houston Chronicle
"An illusionist extraordinaire." - Publishers Weekly
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
The setting is an alternate, possible fascist America; King leaves things pretty murky on the sociopolitical end of things, almost surely by design. The Long Walk is really one of your "it can't happen in America" kind of stories, and the horror of it all (and, yes, I would categorize this as a horror novel) is made more powerful by obscuring the lines between our America and this fictionalized America. Here, The Long Walk is the premier sporting event in the land. Spectators turn out in droves, bets are made left and right, and the whole nation watches and cheers. Obviously, this is not a regular walk, nor is it a race in the purist sense. Endurance - mental even more than physical - is the key to victory in this sport. To win, all you have to do is outlast 99 other competitors - and the winner receives nothing less than whatever he wants for the rest of his life. Before you yell "Sign me up," you'll want to hear about the details. You have to maintain a pace of at least four miles per hour; fall below the pace, and you get a warning. You are allowed three warnings (and you can "lose" a warning by walking another hour on the pace), and then you get ticketed. Getting ticketed doesn't get you a place to rest or even a little much-needed nourishment; all it gets you is one or more bullets in the head.
The obvious question is: why would anyone volunteer for this, knowing that he was almost surely going to die? That's a large part of what this whole novel is about. The contestants do a lot of talking while they're walking; most of them dance around the "why" issue, but we see clues to some of the reasons as each lad draws closer and closer to death. For some, reality doesn't really set in until the guns started blazing. Cockiness turns to anger, fear, shock, and just about every other kind of dark emotion you can imagine. The boys are stripped bare in both body and mind as the Walk goes on and on, through all kinds of weather. Through his characters, King is basically asking the reader how he/she will face death when it comes. Will you freeze up early on? How long will you fight to stay alive after you've pushed your body far beyond the breaking point? Will you lie down and accept your fate, or will you lose control and lash out at your perceived enemies?
The most weighty questions actually involve the crowd. As the Walk progresses, more and more people come out to cheer the Watchers on, secretly hoping to see someone get ticketed before there very eyes. This goes far beyond craning your neck to see everything you can at an accident scene. For the Walkers, the crowd eventually becomes Crowd, an amorphous creature always right there roaring and grabbing at them, living (and dying) vicariously through them. Obviously, one thing the Long Walk represents is life itself. The Walkers literally age before our eyes as exhausting hours turn into ever darker, more painful days. Death's approach changes every one of them. Fate has its way with each one's odds of winning, allowing for no favorites among them, as even those with the most going for them sometimes find themselves felled by injuries and sickness. During the journey, the Walkers arrange themselves into little groups, develop enemies, and help - or don't help - one another keep going. Is life a competition or a journey? Different things motivate them to keep going - family, a girl back home, or - for some - just the satisfaction of outlasting another Walker they don't like (oddly enough, the Prize never really seems to mean much to any of them).
I could just go on and on with the symbolism of this story. I haven't even described the characters, and I think it is better if I don't - except to say that the story is told from the perspective of "Maine's own" Walker, Ray Garraty. I could read this novel over and over again without ever growing tired of it. It's just endlessly fascinating and illuminating. Even as a very young writer, King had a lot to say, he understood people, and - most of all - he knew how to tell a story better than just about everyone else who has ever lived.
Stephen King (a.k.a. Richard Bachman) introduces and develops the characters of many of the boys in the event. As a reader, you get to learn about Garraty, Pete McVries, Hank Olson, Art Baker, Barkovitch, Stebbins, and others, who each have their own personality quirks and ways of looking at life. Each boy has entered the Long Walk for a different reason and I found their discussions about life and death to be quite interesting (a social statement by King, perhaps?). The reader is led along the course and each significant event is mentioned along the way, with some unexpected occurrences that may surprise you.
As the challenge narrows down from the original 100 competitors to less than 50, then to just a handful of boys remaining, the scenario becomes rather intense. Who will die next? How will he die? And most importantly, who will be left at the end to claim the Prize? Although the suspense builds slowly, it tends to add to the dramatic effect of the final moments and keep the reader wanting to read more to find out what happens (I was so eager to find out that I read the last half of the book in one sitting).
Although the story is interesting and held my attention, there are a couple of criticisms that knocked it down from 5 to 4 stars. First, the ending was too predictable. I had a feeling from the start of what would happen and being verified at the end tended to downplay the whole story. Second, some of the characters were killed off rather abruptly without much detail or explanation. I guess it just depends on what you are expecting and how you interpret the story.
Overall, I have to say that I enjoyed reading the Long Walk. It tests the limits of human endurance in a unique way and makes the reader think about life and death in a new light (or at least I did). Unlike many of King's other novels, the Long Walk is more of dramatic suspense story rather than a horror story, which is what I have noticed about his writing as Richard Bachman. It is a good read, however, and I recommend it to anyone, whether you are a fan of Stephen King or not.