While I’m on vacation, I managed to get through The Running Man by Richard Bachman, Stephen King’s pseudonym. I first heard of this novel around the time when The Hunger Games was released as being one of the inspirations behind that series. I enjoyed the novel and can see why some people would think it inspired the Hunger Games series although it wasn’t quite what I expected.
The story is about Ben Richards who signs up to be on the game show, The Running Man, to try and win some money for his family. It is a game show where the contestant has to evade The Hunters for 30 days to win the grand prize of one billion new dollars. They get bonuses for killing any law enforcement officers. I came into the novel thinking there would be some sort of arena where the game was played. Turned out the arena is the entire United States.
The novel had plenty of twists and never went in the direction I thought it would go. There was a great cast of sidekicks, with my favourites being Stacey and Bradley. It was thrilling to read about Ben getting out of tricky situations and the writing really keeps you on the edge of your seat.
The character of Ben Richards was well developed but hard to relate to. He did some things that I would think hard for a family man to do. He goes through quite the transformation throughout the length of the novel.
There was a subplot about pollution that I felt got dropped towards the end without a resolution. It seemed almost pointless to spend some time on it because it could’ve been established with a sentence or two.
Overall I enjoyed the book. I went a few days without reading it and it didn’t quite have a strong enough pull to make me think about it when I wasn’t reading. The story was interesting with good twists while avoiding any predictability. The world building was well-done and I wouldn’t mind reading other stories set in this universe.