The Running Man by Richard Bachman aka Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Reason for Reading: I'm in the process of of re/reading all of Stephen King's works in chronological order.This is the last book in this collection I had to read. After having read through the entire book over the time period of a few years I've concluded that "The Long Walk" is my favourite novel here, which I do remember enjoying a lot the first time around also. My least favourite was "Roadwork", though I'll say I didn't not like any of them. Taken together on average I rate the complete collection a 4 out of 5. Click the link for the review of the whole collection in one place.
The Running Man - This is the book that I was most looking forward to re-reading in this collection. The first time I read it, the movie hadn't been made yet and I found this an incredibly scary tale as it felt so real. More real than The Long Walk at that time, which is also a deadly game show sci-fi. This time it didn't affect me as much because it wasn't very believable in our time and age. King's vision of 2025 from his vantage point of 1982 just isn't possible; the world has changed too much since then. Pollution is no longer our major concern and all the smoking, etc just wouldn't fly anymore. However going beyond that, it is a good story. A government run state happily killing off it's poor, sick and unproductive, so-called useless people is a possible reality if the current death culture, eugenics centred society that exists today continues. This is a grim book with no hope. It starts off with us, and the main character, knowing he will die at the end. But it is a good chase story and I think it is a well-written Bachman book. Unfortunately, the movie does spoil reading this for me now as I couldn't get Arnold Schwarzenegger out of my head as Ben, nor Richard Dawson as the TV Host. For those who don't know though the book and the movie may have the same basic plot (a game show to the death) but the similarity ends there. They completely re-wrote the plot and characters for the movie version so don't pass up the book because of your opinion of the movie.
Interestingly enough, I found a reference to the King Universe here, when Ben ends up at an airport in Derry, Maine. I love looking for the connections between the books now that I'm reading these in chrono order; but I knew Derry from future books such as "It" so I had to Google and see if this was the first time Derry was ever mentioned by King and technically, it is! It is debatable though because this was published as a Bachman book and in the same year, 1982, under his own name King published the collection "Different Seasons" which contains the novella "The Body", which doesn't take place in Derry but does mention it in passing as a nearby town. So we can see King establishing his universe already and this is the year that astute readers should have made the connection between Bachman and King as he has now given it away. (4/5)
View all my reviews