The Running Man by Stephen King
July 10, 2010 2 Comments
A dystopian novel (1982) in which society has almost totally been split between the haves and the have-nots. The latter live in squalor, on the “other” side of the river, are generally unemployed with very little state benefit and living in areas where gangs rule.
Ben Richards has a sick daughter. They can’t afford medicines for her and she gets more and more ill every day. Although his wife is willing to prostitute herself for some extra income, Richards has other ideas.
For weeks he has been watching Free-Vee, a government tv channel that almost constantly broadcasts quizzes and other shows where ordinary people can win money. Against the wishes of his wife Richards decides to become a candidate for one of the shows.
The show he is selected for is called The Running Man and were he to win (which no one has so far managed) he would earn one billion dollars. Losing means ending up dead. In the show, he is set on the loose with a team of hunters going after him. They, as well as any other officer of the law, have the authority to kill him when the find him (without being provoked). He has to survive a set number of days to win the game.
An interesting chase follows, in which Richards meets other marginals of society.
I found the book very compelling as well as an easy read. The story was well thought-out and the choices Richards made during his run mostly seem to make sense.
There was maybe a little more violence than I would have liked but that was unavoidable given the plot. A good read for my dystopian challenge. Rating 4.5/5.
Extra: See also my review of Duma Key by Stephen King.