I will probably never forget this book. It became an instant favorite.
“They walked through the rainy dark like gaunt ghosts, and Garraty didn’t like to look at them. They were the walking dead.”
I’m really in my feelings right now. It’s been a couple of hours since I finished The Long Walk and I’m still processing this book. It was gut-wrenching, terrifying, and beautiful. I’m going to try to be as coherent as possible.
The basic premise of this book is that in a dystonian U.S. society, every year 100 teenage boys get to participate in The Long Walk. The rules are simple: everyone must walk at a speed of 4mph, they get three warnings if they slow down or stop walking, after the third warning, they get killed by one of the many soldiers walking beside them. They start in Maine, and walk for days, struggling with exhaustion, heat, rain, hail, and their deteriorating bodies. In the end, there can only be one survivor.
The narrator, Ray Garraty, was very hard to figure out at first. I was wary about him. I wasn’t sure I could trust him. But the more I got to know him, the more he grew on me. Sometimes he was cruel, but he immediately apologized and felt remorseful. I really liked him. Garraty quickly became friends with Peter McVries, the boy with a scar on his face. They had such a great friendship. I loved McVries from the beginning. As the story progressed, the two boys constantly saved each other’s lives. Not many other characters did this, which made them stand out.
The other boys were all intriguing. Stebbins was another one of my favorites. He was the quiet, reserved boy, always in the back of the group. I found him absolutely endearing, and I wanted to protect him somehow. I sympathized with most of the boys. I was rooting for each and every one of them, even as they continued to die. And the ways they died were very gruesome at times. There were times when I felt sick to my stomach at the detailed descriptions of their deaths. But I needed to keep going, just like the rest of the boys.
The prose was incredible. I was reminded why Stephen King is one of my favorite writers. I felt like I was walking right next to the boys. I was completely immersed in the story. I felt their pain. I felt the soreness of their feet and legs. I felt their anger and hopelessness. I felt their sadness. I felt it all, and I kept wanting to save them all. But then I was reminded that they had chosen to participate in this horrible walk. That was the greatest thing of all. Those boys put themselves in that situation, each of them thinking they would win. The winning prize? A lot of money, and whatever else they wanted.
The scariest thing about this book was witnessing how every one of those boys regretted their decision once they were already in the walk. They felt the reality of their situation, but it was too late to back out. They just had to keep walking, and walking, and walking.
I completely fell in love with this book. I heard it was being turned into a movie. I really hope they execute it well. I need it to do the book justice because this book is fantastic. I want to read it many times in the future. Until I’m as exhausted as the characters. Until I can’t read anymore.