The Long Walk is a book by an elusive author named Richard Bachman—whom no one has ever met—about a bunch of kids being slaughtered in a near-future (...moreThe Long Walk is a book by an elusive author named Richard Bachman—whom no one has ever met—about a bunch of kids being slaughtered in a near-future (or alternate reality) dystopian America. Which, been there, done that, right? Can’t unknown authors write about something that wouldn’t be covered again decades later? The lack of foresight here is really disappointing.
There are differences, though, between The Hunger Games and this book, particularly in that the kids in The Long Walk are mowed down by military officials rather than by each other, and that participation in this deadly event is strictly voluntary (whereas in The Hunger Games, there is little “choice” in the matter). And while I don’t think it is a bad thing necessarily for some of these teenagers to get their just desserts—seriously, have you met a teenager?—the voluntary aspect of this event is something that I had trouble with. Because we’re not just talking a few hundred mentally disturbed kids who cannot comprehend the meaning of a 99% mortality rate. We’re talking tens of thousands of kids across the country who seem to want to be chosen for competition, and whose family and friends seem even to encourage their participation. I am not sure how dystopian this dystopia is, other than that it appears to include a military-run government, but it certainly doesn’t leave one with the impression that laying low and avoiding the event entirely should be all that difficult to do, so what’s with all these idiots wanting to get themselves killed?
But still, the book is pretty good overall. It draws interesting conclusions about survival and what drives us to surpass that which we believe to be the limits of our physical capabilities (mind over matter) and it also addresses a point that I have always been able to relate to particularly, which is that it doesn’t take much more than a simple conversation sometimes to connect with another person, and in the case of The Long Walk, that connection can come to mean the difference between life and death for its characters. At the end of it all, though, it is a book that was hard to put down, and it makes one wonder why the author—whoever he is—has not been more prolific and has never broken free from relative obscurity.(less)
It is often the roll your eye moments of books or movies that weaken the reading/viewing experience for me, but I have to be honest in saying that I c...moreIt is often the roll your eye moments of books or movies that weaken the reading/viewing experience for me, but I have to be honest in saying that I cannot always define what exactly triggers those eye rolls. I think sometimes it is the predictability of the plot, other times the outrageousness of coincidence or lack of plausibility. If I get the impression I am being manipulated to feel a certain way, I bristle and balk. But what happens when a book commits one or more of these grave errors and I don’t roll my eyes? What was different that time? Did the book just happen to execute things more effectively? Did it possess some other, albeit unrelated, redeeming quality that allowed me to overlook certain flaws? Or does it really all come down to my state-of-mind at the time of reading?
I do not have the answers to these questions, but I do know that I really enjoyed Night Film—despite its main character being a bit of a retard (not to mention a lousy father), despite motivations that stem more from a sake of convenience than from any reasonable source, and despite the intrusion of the wild and zany into what is otherwise a reality-based investigative thriller.
So what did I like about this book? I liked the writing, I liked the supporting characters—not just the peripheral ones but also the ones who exist only in the ethereal sense. I enjoyed the twists and turns, which are perfectly timed and manage to prevent some elements from being revealed until the final page. I liked that not everything is ultimately revealed and I like what that says about who we are, as readers, and what we want out of a story. There may be two sides to a coin but at the end of the day it is the same coin, and maybe you need both sides to complete a picture. Or maybe that picture is never really complete because it exists in an ever-changing reality and all you can do is theorize and deduce and grab hold of whichever belief helps you sleep best at night, hoping nothing will come along later to challenge that belief, but still preparing yourself for that possibility because it almost always happens eventually, one way or the other, doesn’t it?
My apologies for the vagueness there but when you finish the book you’ll understand. Or maybe you will just roll your eyes and think, “whatever, man.” Either way.(less)