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The Running Man

The Running Man - Stephen King, Richard Bachman

When Ben Richard's daughter gets pneumonia, he turns to the Network for help and becomes a contestant on the deadliest of reality shows, The Running Man. Can Richards run long enough to earn the money for his daughter's medicine? And what will he learn as he runs for his life for the amusement of the public watching The Running Man?

This is the best book made into a movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger I've ever read. Actually, apart from a couple character names, the dystopian setting, and the concept of a reality show where the contestants will likely die, it has very little resemblance to the Arnold flick.

Richard Bachman really liked his dystopias, didn't he? This one bears a startling resemblance to our current reality tv situation. Funny, Bachman predicting the rise of reality tv decades before it came to pass.

Ben Richards is an unemployed loser with a wife that occasionally turns tricks to make ends meet. In order to make some money, he winds up on The Running Man, running for his life in a polluted world that's falling apart.

The suspense in this thing builds and builds as Richards gets deeper into the game. Can he trust anyone? How is the Network tracking him? Will his daughter still be alive when the much needed money gets to her? Things start falling apart for him near the end and the tension is almost unbearable. 

Richards is a much deeper character than the Arnold version. As his sense of desperation grows, one can't help but imagine him or herself in Richard's situation. 

Like a lot of people, I think The Running Man is likely one of the parents of the Hunger Games, along with The Long Walk.

That's pretty much all I can say. It's a gripping, breezy read, far from the bloated gargantuas of Stephen King's Richard Bachman's later books. 3.5 out of 5 stars.