This book didn’t really work for me. TvTropes cites the film adaptation as “adaptation decay”, but I disagree. I actually think that the movie used the concept better.
While the general premise is the same, the two vary drastically in tone. The movie was about over the top action where as this is more akin to The Fugitive, where the main character is essentially on the run from the law.
I don’t see the appeal of this iteration of the show. In the film, it all took place in an enclosed space, allowing the viewer to watch the contestants attempt to hide from the hunters, who were these over the top, larger than life characters. Here, the contestants can go anywhere in the world, although they have to do it discreetly; and the hunters are just men in suits. All the viewers really get is a couple of thirty second vlogs from Richards and then the rest of the show is just. . . posturing.
Another problem lies with Richards himself, as he’s kind of a tool. By kind of a tool, I of course mean that he is one. Looking at his last name, this should come as a surprise to no one as that trait seems to run in the family. Still, it’s not exactly what you look for in a protagonist.
Even the fact that he’s fighting to save his daughter doesn’t do much to build sympathy. For one thing, we never actually see her, which makes her a total macguffin. You might think that this makes the story one that showcases the strength of a father’s love or something to that effect, but the book makes it clear that every contestant on these shows has a similar story. If his was somehow greater than the others to the point where it gave him that extra push, we don’t see it.
There’s also an oddly placed lesson on reading that comes up. After Ben’s taken in by some well read kids in the ghetto, they tell him that “free-vees” (basically, their television sets) are polluting the air. It basically results in a speech about how people need to turn the television off and read a book. The message itself is fine, I guess (though it’s not exactly lacking in subtlety), but it’s rather odd seeing as this is, ya know, a book. Aren’t you preaching to the choir at this point?
The mention of Derry was interesting. At first, it seemed like King wanted people to figure out that he was Bachman. Though at the same time, he could’ve been referring to the real town of Derry in New Hampshire. Even if he was, it still acts as a pretty good indicator that the two authors are one and the same.
The book is only two hundred pages, so you should be able to get through it in no time. King himself got through the book in no time, pumping out a manuscript in a week. Most people find the idea of writing a novel in a month daunting, but he pulled it off in a fourth of the amount of time. Even using King’s own work system of ten pages a day as a standard, he still finished this three times faster than he should’ve. That’s just nuts.
While I found several faults with the book, I didn’t hate it, I was just left underwhelmed. I might be in the minority on this one. There’s a chance that the book grabs you more than it did me, but the fact remains that it didn’t grab me.
But now we get to the real crux of King’s work. For next we’re going to get introduced to one Roland Deschain as he embarks on a quest to find the mysterious and legendary dark tower.