Although this book is set in a dystopian future America, you learn very little about that world, what it is like and how it came to be that way…interestingly your whole perspective of the world and people in it are viewed through a ‘long walk lens’.
What I liked about this book, which in itself feels like a long and gruelling read at times (in a good way), is that it spends the entire time examining a terrible event in crippling slow motion through the eyes of those experiencing it. Comparisons to novels such as The Hunger Games only exist as far a this being semi- televised competition featuring young people, who must fight – or in this case walk – to the death. Unlike HG, The Long Walk focuses not on the action and bloody deaths, but the excruciating mental experience of the competitors. There is a close examination of human nature and how that can be twisted and tainted by a person’s environment in both negative and positive ways.
Overall, this is a thought-provoking read, that relies on subtle indicators to a world corrupt and terrible that would champion such a brutal event as the long walk, rather than overt themes and actions. It left me rather emotionally numb – just as the boys surrounded by death seemed to become – with an odd sense that somewhere out there Garraty and the others are still walking on this endless road: some ghosts, some living dead and others so mad they might be anything….what kind of world is that? I have to say I’m really not sure.