Book Review: The Long Walk

THE LONG WALK | Stephen King as Richard Bachman
02.16.2016 (First published July 1979) | Gallery Books
Rating: 5/5 stars


Each year one hundred boys under the age of eighteen enter into a walking competition where there can only be one winner. Boys around the country enter to compete despite knowing there will be only one survivor. The reward is too high not to be drawn in. The idea that you can have whatever you want for the rest of your life is something they are willing to risk everything for a chance at having. Among this year’s contestants is sixteen-year-old Ray Garraty and he knows just what to do: keep a pace of four miles per hour without stopping for anything or anyone. Three warnings and you’re out – permanently.


THE LONG WALK is the second story that Stephen King published as Richard Bachman. He delivers the reader a dystopian America that has become a police state where citizens are happy to stand along the road and watch as one hundred boys risk their lives in a walking competition. This competition has become something that conveys a message of pride in the country, but is actually a death sentence for all but one participant. 

King gives readers an inside look into the competition as the reader enters into it with Ray Garraty. Through this sixteen-year-old’s eyes the reader is able to see the allure to entering the lottery to be picked for the competition. What person wouldn’t want the chance to have whatever they want for the rest of their lives? What these boys don’t realize and are not prepared for is the detrimental toll this walk will have on them even if they are able to survive. The horrors that we watch alongside Garraty made my heart break. There is an overwhelming struggle with wanting to bond with these characters and knowing that they will be ripped out of this world any moment if they receive more than three warnings.


THE LONG WALK is an incredibly tense story as the reader watches Garraty walk for miles alongside boys who are growing weak, suffering physical injury, and slowly losing their minds. Garraty is not immune to these threats and you can feel his heart break each time another boy loses their life. I wasn’t expecting to feel such heartbreak reading this book, but it was impossible not to with how perfectly realistic each boy becomes as the story progresses. With each backstory shared I could feel myself bonding more and more with the characters. My favorite was easily Garraty, but McVries was a very close second. 

This story is one that will stay with me for quite a while and I’m so thankful I have a King reading group that I got to discuss this one with. I know this is only my second Bachman book in my reading journey, but I think I may have found my favorite!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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