Running Man by Stephen King

Running Man by Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman

If you like action-oriented dystopian titles, this is the book for you!!!  King starts the plot rolling on the first page, and doesn’t let the readers breathe until they are done with the book.  Set in the near future, this book depicts a society when the rich and poor are even more disparate than they are today.  At twenty-eight, Ben Richards already feels like an old man.  He hasn’t worked steadily for years after protesting that the radiation shields used in the factory where he worked were basically useless; all the men were becoming sterile despite their use.  To his great sadness, his wife feels forced by their circumstances to support them through prostitution.  Add to this the fact that their baby is sick with the flu and may die because the poor have no healthcare.

The government keeps the poor placated with Free-Vee, television full of vicious reality games where the contestants may actually have a chance to win money.  The show “Treadmill to Bucks” only accepts terminally ill patients whose task it is to stay on the treadmill, earning $10 for each minute they are able to stay alive.  Bonus questions are involved that might win the contestant extra cash, or speed up  the treadmill up, depending on the player’s correct/wrong answer.  Needless to say, many contestants were carried off dead on a rubber stretcher.  Desperate to get enough money for a real doctor, Ben applies and is accepted for the biggest game show, “Running Man.”  The object of the contest is to remain free, even though an elite police force is hunting you down, and the public is paid to report sightings of you.

What I especially liked about this book is that even though it was written in 1982, it is still politically even more relevant today, with the gap between the super rich and the rest of us growing daily.  While King doesn’t harp on political ideology, Ben some of the other main characters make it clear that the Free-Vee Network and government in general are oppressing the general population severely, making it nearly impossible for them to survive.

I highly recommend this title to dysptopia and Stephen King fans, and anyone looking for an action-packed, gripping novel.  WARNING:  Do not read the prologue, as it gives away major plot points that will ruin to story for you!

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