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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 15 August 2011
Far superior and not much like the film adaptation. Yes it is a game show and yes the lead character is being hunted but that's where similarities end. The stakes are high, in the future there are few jobs and people living in complete filth and depravation, the games are the only way for a lot to make money. The higher the risk the greater the reward. The ultimate game, The Running Man, promises to give the winner untold riches and good living forever. But the odds are slim to none. You have to stay away from the trackers for 30 days, send tapes in to the studio to prove you are still alive, avoid being recognised and each day an amount of money becomes yours in the end. So the whole world knows your face, the tapes you send in are post marked with the area from which you have sent them and failure to send them results in forfeit and elimination on sight. The lead character Ben Richards has a sick child at home and a wife who has to sleep with strangers for the cash to pay for their daughters treatment, a desperate scenario which makes him ripe for the corporate picking. He makes a few grand escapes and the whole story culminates in a bitter sweet pseudo tragedy which leaves you bemused.

It isn't a long read but certainly an enjoyable one.
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on 28 October 2013
The Running Man is a futuristic tale about a guy called Ben Richards who has to go on a TV game show to save his daughter's life--she's ill and they can't afford the medication. As part of the show, Richards has to outrun and out-hide and outmanoeuvre real-life assassins for thirty days to survive. Each day he survives, money is sent to his family, which means his wife doesn't have to carry on hooking and his baby girl can get well again.

The book rattles along at a manic pace, zipping past like a two-sentence-per-page James Patterson novel without sacrificing character development. You might have seen the lame Arnold Schwarzenegger film based on this; don't let that put you off. The film, aside from the central concept, is completely different. They bought the film rights to King's novel and just butchered it.

According to King, he wrote this novel/novella in only seventy-two hours, the novel being published with barely any changes. He was probably on coke at the time (he never said this; I did) and if this is the magic that he can produce in seventy-two hours then he should write all of his novels in three days. And aside from a confusing scene where the main character is crawling through pipes, which I can't decipher or work out, it's enjoyable the whole way through, with memorable lines such as: "He'll make you s*** in your boot and eat it."

People can complain that the satire and messages aren't subtle enough, but I thought it was clever, fun, and quick-paced. King needs to write more books like this and less like the bloated Insomnia. The last thirty chapters are especially gripping, and I was so hooked that I read from chapter 36 to 0 (the chapters are backwards in the book, which becomes apparent why at the end) without even stopping for a break.

In short: buy it, read it, devour it.
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on 22 April 2015
Not really anything like the old Arnie film - they share a (very) basic concept and a title but that's about it.

Great story, great characters, great writing - everything you'd expect from Stephen King. Unfortunately we'll never see a film of this that's true to the book as the ending isn't something that would ever be touched by a studio until our generation is in the grave (can't say more without spoilers, but you'll see what I mean.)

A few hours of my life well spent.
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The Schwarzenegger film was a seminal movie of my childhood. I never realised who the author was, and discovering it to be Stephen King I had to see the source material.
All the King adaptations I've seen, I've loved.

Of course at first I was confused though - who is Richard Bachmann? I'd never heard that King used a pseudonym to release a few novels different to his then 'horror' tag, and it was also interesting to read with this in mind -would you have known? I wouldn't - it's just good writing and good imagination.

Having now read this, I can say, the book outclasses the film.

Ben Richards is an everyday Joe (not a bulked up military man), with a family and living in skid row in a dystopian hell on earth. He volunteers to be TV cannon fodder to earn the money he needs for medicine for his sick daughter. His physical prowess and above average intellect see him chosen for prime time show The Running Man, where the whole country takes part in tracking him and seeing him shot down.

It's a chase scenario, with suspense and some violence, but a dark heart of resignation, commitment and anger as Richards stays alive for longer and longer. It's a tense finale, gripping and well-played.

A great King to read - its not horror, not quite sci-fi though Richards' society is exceptionally well-drawn and detailed. Stands up well with such classics as Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451.

I really want someone smart to make this into a film the way it SHOULD be made. Just please, don't tell Arnie!
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on 26 September 2013
Stephen King said he wrote this little beauty within a weekend and, to me, it did stand out slightly as the story rolled from one scene to another quite quickly, some of the descriptions were too tedious to understand at one glance and it was quite a short read, which I wasn't expecting, but all that being said, this book is one of the best I have ever read.

Ben Richards is a twenty-something, out of work nobody who lives in a rundown apartment in a rundown part of the city with his wife and desperately ill baby daughter, who they cannot afford medicine for unless the wife prostitutes herself. The world Ben lives in is dominated by the fat-cat who run the free-TV stations that the population has nothing else to do but watch and the only thing that is ever on are reality and game shows. People can earn big bucks signing themselves up for one of these shows, which mostly result in the participant's death, and after a bad night listening to his daughter crying out in pain, Ben decides to follow suit in order to pay a real doctor to treat her. After a short selection process to see which show Ben would be most suited for, he is chosen to become a contestant in the biggest game show there is, The Running Man. Ben has to either get as far away from the city as he can or find a place secure enough to hide in because, in 24hrs, a team of specially trained Hunters will be coming after him and if they catch him, he will be killed live on air for the nation's entertainment.

The Running Man is a gritty tale of greed, love, survival and sacrifice, and it has a very real feeling to it, so real in fact that I couldn't get the idea of this fictional world becoming a reality some day in the not too distant future out of my mind. The story keeps you hooked, moving from action-filled scene to action-filled scene quite quickly, and Ben, our protagonist, was someone I liked and could relate to easily - I laughed with him, cried with him and, on more than one occasion, I was genuinely devastated for him. Stephen King might have wrote The Running Man in a weekend and yes, that might become apparent a few times within the story, but he is strikingly unmerciful with his execution of it and I seriously doubt that anyone who reads this will be thinking about anything other than the ending for a long time to come.
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on 10 April 1999
Forget the Arnie, Hollywood-glitz film, this book is about a man so desparate in his life he goes on the Running Man game show to try to make his fortune. The book sees the game played across the whole of the United States (not in a studio like the film was) with the public and special "hunters" trying to track down the Running Man. The ending is inspirational, the book picks you up and carries you with it like Bachman's The Body available in the Four Seasons collection! ENJOY!
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on 24 July 2014
Dark, gripping and apocalyptic story of society absorbed in quasi-reality. which keeps people away from true problems.

It is amazing how many features King got right, he was writing quite some time ago.

No happy ending, though. Be prepared for putting the book down and still thinking about it.
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Published in 1982 under the pseudonym, Richard Bachman, the author was strangely prescient, as the novel takes place in the year 2025 in the good old United States of America, only it is not so good anymore. With an economy that sharply divides the haves and the have nots, reality television is the only thing that brings these two disparate halves of the economy together.

Twenty something Ben Richards is living with his wife and baby girl in a ramshackle housing development in dire poverty. He is at the end of his rope. His wife is turning tricks to keep them barely alive, and their baby girl is dying from the flu for lack of proper medical care and medication. Theirs is truly miserable existence.

The only entertainment for those such as them is Free-Vee, which delivers non-stop reality television shows in which desperate wretches try to win big monetary payoffs. Desperate for money to be able to help his little girl, Ben auditions for a reality television show and is selected for the ultimate life or death reality show, where the truly desperate are hunted down by a group called the "Hunters", whose only mission is to kill their quarry. The payoff is big, should one succeed in evading death, but no one ever has.

Such is the desperation of Ben Richards that he would even consider signing on for such a show. Unfortunately for him, he soon realizes that there is a reason no one has ever succeeded in evading the "Hunters" and decides that it is time that someone changes the status quo. That someone will be him, as he turns the show on its head.

The book is definitely bleak in its outlook and pretty depressing. There is virtually no character development of anyone other than the protagonist, and even there that is somewhat limited. This book was supposedly written in three days by the author, and it shows in the quality of the writing.

Still, the story line was intriguing, and certainly the author was onto something, as who knew in 1982 that reality shows would have such a hold on the public, as they do today? It is simply too bad that the story, as written, has little emotional grip on the reader, rendering it somewhat less than satisfying. Nonetheless, fans of the author will find some enjoyment in this somewhat mediocre book. A word to the wise, do not read the author's intro "The Importance of Being Bachman" until after you have read the book, if you want to avoid knowing how "The Running Man" ends before you read the book.
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on 23 March 2014
'The Running Man' is a fast-paced, uncompromising indictment of contemporary society. Things have continued to get worse since it was first written, and its ending is poignant both for its readiness to face up to the implications of living in a facile, plutocratic world, and its prophetic take on what might just happen when people are driven to do terrible, unforgivable things. With unintended irony, the people who made the film based on this novel, gutting it of all the original's social sharpness, help to demonstrate the corporate crassness King brilliantly shows up in this moving tale.
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on 9 June 2015
Stephen King 's always a good bet if you're into fiction - this book is a grade fores the gritty realities that separate lower and upper class society in an unforgiving world. As one would expect of Stephen King 's works, "The Running Man" is well written and miraculously clever. A bit dark, but that's why some people like Stephen King.
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