Sunday 7 August 2011

The Bachman Books - Stephen King

Three books by Stephen King written as Richard Bachman. In the Long Walk Garraty is a young boy who has signed up to walk against 99 other boys. There is a cash prize and another prize of the contestants choosing at the end. Once they start they can't stop or slow down. To do so three times within an hour means a ticket on the fourth. What Garraty didn't count on was that these other boys would also become his friends. In Roadwork Dawes is being forced to relocate his home and business thanks to a road being built right through them. He is reluctant to do so as it would mean coming to terms with the death of his son. In the Running Man Ben Richards has joined one of the games in order to get money to save his baby girl. He is put on the Running Man show which means death if found by hunters. Along the was Richards discovers that there is more to these Game shows and that winning now means more than the life of his daughter.

I feel kind of hard done by as I have read a few reviews of this book and in a fair few of them a fourth story called Rage is mentioned. It's definitely not in my copy. Not to worry there are a few other Bachman books such as Thinner and The Regulators which I have still to read too. I wasn't actually expecting much from them to be honest. I read Blaze a few years ago and whilst I enjoyed it I wouldn't say it was my favourite. This is probably why it took me so long to pick this up and in the end it made my Books I Should Have Read By Now list (my last post didn't prompt me to read this as I had already intended to do so before I saw the guardian article).

Reading this book I was reminded once again as to just how good King is. In all he showed his true strength which is his characters. They all have a depth to them which he manages to do in just a few short pages. King is the only author I know to get you emotionally involved with a character on one page only to kill them off in the next. If you like your strong characters and don't mind a scare definitely pick up one of his books. In this case it was most obvious with the third book "Roadwork". To be honest the subject bored me a little. After reading The Long Walk I was a little disappointed with this one. The only thing that kept me going was the main character. He wasn't even interesting himself. At the end of the day he was just an ordinary man but I began to feel sorry for him very quickly and I wanted everything to turn out well for him. This character alone got me to read a story I found exceedingly dull and at times I even forgot how boring it was. If that isn't talent I don't know what is.

The Long Walk is without a doubt my favourite. I was unable to pull myself away from it from page one. Again it was the strength of the characters in part but also the story itself. Another strength of Kings was highlighted in this one. The ability to show bonds between characters. He did it with the kids in "It", "Stand By Me" and even showed it with adults in "The Stand". It's something I always enjoy and look out for in his books. It also makes for some very sad moments and this story proved to be no exception. We learn early on just what ticketed means and it's not a good thing. As the boys begin to bond and even help each other on it makes for some very sad moments and yet you can't help but want Garraty to come out the winner. I actually wanted the boys to band together and rise against the organisers.

The Running Man I enjoyed too and was actually glad that it had very little in common with the Arnold Shwartzenegger film (although it's been years since I saw it and I did like it at the time). The fact that Richards is joining these games by choice in order to get his daughter the medicine she needs makes him more human and easy to sympathise with. He's trying to stay alive just long enough to help his family. It's the only thing he cares about until a teen who helps him shows what they governments are truly trying to hide. He then tries to use his time to teach everyone that they aren't free. This story and the first one showed me just how good King can be and as a huge dystopian fan I wish he would write more. He certainly has a talent for it.

I think any King fan would likes these. Also, anyone who is intrigued by King but not so fond of horror these are a good way to start. They have all the strengths of the author without the scary monsters (unless you count other humans).

I read this as the Books I should Have Read By Now challenge. You can see what others are reading this month for the challenge here.

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