The year is 2025 and America’s economy is in ruins and there’s violence on the streets. The Games Network is the controlling force of the nation, with their deadly reality shows constantly being aired into the people’s homes. Ben Richards is the latest competitor in the Games Network’s biggest show “The Running Man” – a show where the contestant is on the run across the world and is chased by Hunters – every hour he stays alive is another $100 he wins for his wife and sick baby, but it’s a show that’s rigged leaving Ben to wonder if there’s any way he’s going to get out of The Running Man alive.
Ben is a man with principles, he knows the reality TV shows are a fix and a way for the richer people to laugh at and abuse the poorer citizens who are just trying to earn money for their family, but he takes part in The Running Man because he can see no other way to earn money for the medicine his young sick daughter needs. Ben is strong and smart so he can usually guess what the Hunters are going to do next – making the chase very suspenseful.
The Games Network are like any controlling force in a totalitarian dystopia. It controls what the people know by their broadcasts on the Free Vee (the television), a device that every home is required to have by law. There’s also so many other rules and regulations made to keep the poor poor and the rich rich.
The Running Man is the first Stephen King book I’ve read (as I was always a bit intimidated by their size and also because he writes a lot of horror which I’m not a big fan of) and it was a good place to start. It’s quite a short book (my copy only had just over 200 pages) but it’s also action-packed and fast-paced. Even though it is short it fits a lot of world-building in it and characterisation as you feel the hatred Ben (and other characters) have for the Games Network but at the same time, how scared they are to act against them.
The Running Man was written in the 1980’s but it says so much about today’s society, with its problems with the environment, how it treats the poorer citizens, and the addiction to television and reality TV shows.
I’m pleased I’ve finally picked up a book by Stephen King and will be reading more of his stuff in the future. If you like The Hunger Games you should definitely check out The Running Man as it really is a great story about the warped power of reality TV. 5/5.