by Heidi Papay
Stephen King’s The Long Walk, originally published in 1979 under his pseudonym Richard Bachman, is a haunting story that explores perseverance and the will to live.
The short novel follows Ray Garraty, a teenager from Maine who is competing in a contest known as The Long Walk; 100 teen boys enter the competition, and only one is left surviving at the end. The competition seems simple: the Walkers must continue walking at four miles per hour or faster or receive a warning. If a Walker interferes with someone else, they receive a warning. But, if a Walker already has three warnings and makes another mistake, he is shot and killed. The lone survivor receives The Prize: anything they want for the rest of their lives. Their journeys are complicated with several details. Many of the Walkers, including Garraty, end up making friends along the way. Watching their friends get killed takes a toll on several of the Walkers. Their journeys are also impacted by The Crowd. The Crowd is composed of the general public who stand on the side of the road, hoping to see a Walker get killed as they walk past. The teens are also held back by limited food, extreme heat, and powerful storms. Each Walker finds the strength within themselves to continue for as long as they can.
In the novel, King turns a simple concept into a chilling and heart-wrenching story. The novel is simply but beautifully written. King gives enough details to describe the events well, but also makes some things vague enough to seem mysterious. This novel is a good read for anyone that wants a story about determination, survival, and what drives each person to persevere.