Abrupt. That is how it ended. Abruptly.
So Garraty loses his mind at the end. THEN what happens? It seems like this book was never finished.
The basic idea is, 99 male teenagers are given the chance to participate in an endurance race. The person who walks the farthest wins, and if you don't win, then you die. If you fall below 4 miles per hour, you are given a warning and after 3 warnings you are shot.
Nowhere are we given any reason for the race. Is it a way to decrease the surplus population? Is it a way to keep misfit kids in check? One of the people in the race (Scramm) was actually married!
The only indication of a time-line we receive is a mention of Kennedy, and John Travolta. Other than that the government situation seems to be a mystery. The race started in Maine and ended in Massachusetts. I was personally rooting for McVries or Stebbins to win. In the end Garraty wins, and continues walking, apparently he has lost his mind.
But this is not the whole story. The person who wins the race is given anything they want. Anything they can possible ask for! Yeah sure, Garraty was out of it at the end of the race, but after they tell him he's won, after he gets a few nights sleep and a few good meals, what is he going to ask for?
That wasn't part of the story of course, and it is left for the reader to decide. Apparently, the story of the Long Walk was only a story of the Long walk, and not a story of it's participants or it's winners. It says nothing about the government, or about our lives. It is just an interesting way to look at death, and a good story.
It was a good story. I think this is one of those books which should be read along with the Hunger Games, 1984, and accompanied by a viewing of Battle Royale. They all have a very similar themes of young people battling against each other, and government willingly killing it's own people.
But you are left to wonder in the end, whatever happened to Maine's very own, Garraty?
This one can't be given a five out of five, because we are still left wondering so much at the end. I can, however, say that the story is very well told, and is one of those books that will stick in my mind for a long time. Depression comes to those in bad situations, and the thought "someone just kill me" is often accompanied with it. In a moment such as this, who wouldn't sign up for the Long Walk? If you win, you get everything you ever wanted. If you lose, you get your wish, for someone to kill you. Odds are 99 to one that you'll lose, but once people start dropping off, your odds only get better and better!
Get walking or get dying!