Stephen King

REVIEW: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

Roland, the last Gunslinger, is on the trail of The Man in Black. Travelling across the endless desert he meets a tempting woman names Alice and Jake, a kid from New York. As he gets closer to the mysterious Dark Tower and finally catching up the Man in Black, Roland faces the difficult choice between damnation and salvation.

The Gunslinger is the first book in King’s epic Dark Tower series so I lot of the things I didn’t really like can probably be put down to that – like the fact there’s a lot of set up and not a lot of pay off. Also the book is quite slow due to all the world-building and learning more of Roland’s backstory, it’s stuff that’s often a mixture of interesting and kind of boring.

When you think about it, not a lot really happens in The Gunslinger. It has a bit of a slow start as you get used to the setting and pace but it’s Roland and his quest that really pulled me into the story. The story itself jumps back and forth in time between Roland chasing down The Man in Black and Roland’s childhood and training to become a Gunslinger.

When something does happen, it’s often explosive. When Roland needs to start shooting people or strange mutant creatures, it’s gripping stuff. You can easily visualise Roland taking down his enemies and they are moments where you can actually see how talented he is, after hearing whispers of the greatness of the Gunslingers.

The Gunslinger is quite an atmospheric book. The desert, and this whole world Roland and The Man in Black live in becomes its own character as you learn more about it. It’s an interesting setting that’s like a distorted reflection of our own which makes it eerie and strangely captivating.

While not a lot happened in The Gunslinger, and some stuff did confuse me, I liked it enough that I will be continuing with the series. 4/5.

REVIEW: The Running Man by Stephen King

FullSizeRender (50)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.