Ryan Rebel's Reviews > The Running Man

The Running Man by Richard Bachman
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's review
Jun 11, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: reviewed
Recommended to Ryan by: Chantel
Recommended for: Stephen King lovers, or anyone looking for dystopian goodness

This book certainly lives up to its title. It's fast-paced through and through. The dialogue is curt, the writing is snappy, and the chapters are bite-sized (even the titles of the chapters are formatted to create a sort of frenetic tension). This is a quick, fun read, but is one of the dystopias I have read that doesn't really have a whole lot of depth to it.

There are plot bumps. There aren't too many plot holes per se, but I would call them plot bumps because I got the feeling that something should be a plot hole fairly often, but could never put my finger on exactly what the problem was. Maybe because there wasn't much of a story, just a list of reasons why a scenario like this could play out. You can tell that the idea for the game came before the idea of the society.

The society is serviceable. It's appropriately dystopian, but I was wishing for more detail. The protagonist's plight is very real, and honest. I don't quite understand why the society works the way it does, but King does a good job of making us think about government, class, etc.

The protagonist reflects this in that he is a fun character, but again, not terribly deep. In fact, one of the few attempts to provide depth to his character was one of my least favorite parts. At one point in the book he learns the truth about the government covering up the truth about pollution levels, and he decides to go on a shallow crusade against it. I found this kind of annoying. Otherwise though, he was a gloriously irreverent character, able to be deathly serious and laughingly humorous at the same time. His one-liners were so good that I don't care that he wasn't developed as much as he could have been.

The rest of the characters were pretty much caricatures, but good caricatures. I found some of the ideas at play a bit of a stretch, but I was willing to concede to them. The action was good. The futuristic tech was outdated (if that makes sense). The futuristic proper nouns were kind of silly, but acceptable ("Rich folks smoke Dokes!, Free-Vee, Newsies). The ending was awesome.

I look forward to reading Stephen King's better work, but if you're looking for something fast and fun (which doesn't mean it can't be gruesome or sad at points), this certainly qualifies.
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