The Running Man

The Running Man

4.1 209
by Stephen King

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In the year 2025, the best men don’t run for President, they run for their lives….

Ben Richards is out of work and out of luck. His eighteen-month-old daughter is sick, and neither Ben nor his wife can afford to take her to a doctor. For a man with no cash and no hope from the poor side of town, there’s only one thing to do: become a

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In the year 2025, the best men don’t run for President, they run for their lives….

Ben Richards is out of work and out of luck. His eighteen-month-old daughter is sick, and neither Ben nor his wife can afford to take her to a doctor. For a man with no cash and no hope from the poor side of town, there’s only one thing to do: become a contestant on one of the Network’s Games, shows where you can win more money than you’ve ever dreamed of—or die trying. Now, Ben’s going prime-time on the Network’s highest-rated viewer participation show. And he’s about to become prey for the masses….

With an introduction by the author, “The Importance of Being Bachman”

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“Under any name King mesmerizes the reader.”—Chicago Sun-Times

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Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.15(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.93(d)
700L (what's this?)
Age Range:
18 Years

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“Under any name King mesmerizes the reader.”—Chicago Sun-Times

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The Running Man 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 209 reviews.
LaNenaFiny More than 1 year ago
So this would have been the first Stephen King book I read cover to cover. I was REALLY excited with the story line and could not wait to start reading it. The mistake I made was start at the beginning and am warning you about it because during the introduction "The Importance of Being Bachman" King gives away the ending!!! Not just a "Oh, and then something negative happens" but "Blah, blah, and then he blah blah" specifically. If you want to enjoy the book (as I am CERTAIN I would have) DO NOT READ THE INTRODUCTION!!!! Who does that?? Yes, I get it, it has been republished so you want to add a note, but for those who would have picked up the book for the first time (never had seen the movie either so I don't know if it tells the true ending) the book has been ruined!!!. . . I always pictured Stephen King as a smart man. . . WRONG! So please! Add a HUGE SPOILER warning if you are giving away the ending of a book before the story even starts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel is a tense, page-turning, heart stopping chase. I wasn't expecting it to be so suspenseful or so dark. As others have mentioned, don't read the introduction until after you have read the novel since it reveals the ending rather matter-of-factly. The "Introduction" really should be changed to an "Afterward" with a disclaimer that it reveals key plot elements of The Running Man. I'm not sure why the publishers haven't made this change in recent printings. Incidentally, the other Bachman books share the same introduction, so if you are reading Roadwork or The Long Walk, for example, and you haven't yet read The Running Man, skip the introduction. This novel is more tightly plotted and cinematic than the other Bachman books. The 100 short chapters, titled only as a numerical countdown marching feverishly towards 0, contribute to the feeling that time is running out. The social commentary is biting and caustic, and the ending is both sad and chilling. Although I'm a huge Stephen King fan, I neglected to read this book because of my associations to the movie. The book is much better, much darker, and I am glad that I read it. For King/Bachman fans - don't miss it.
Max Richardson More than 1 year ago
You know, I'm sure this book is great, but there's no way to tell from the free sample. It's nine pages long, and eight of them are copyright information and the table of contents. Barnes and Noble, if you're reading this, please lengthen some of your samples to include some of the actual story. People don't buy books for the introductions.
xxSCARFACExx More than 1 year ago
This was a great book and it really lies mention to the difference in social groups, as in poor and rich. It is a fiction and to the extreme. The ending is very unpredictable and you will find yourself wanting to keep reading to finish the book. I will definitely keep for a book I might read again
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read 4 of the Bachman Books, by far this is the best. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys other Stephen King novels. Five out of five stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is definitely NOT like the movie! The book is so much better! I just finished reading it, and let me tell you, it is so mind boggling, you'll never put it down! Excellent read!
Tannah More than 1 year ago
The Running Man is set in a 2025 American society in which the government is corrupt, pollution is rampant, and the television, or free-vee, runs people's lives. The protagonist, Ben Richards, is an unemployed man struggling to care for his wife and sick six month old daughter. As a last resort, Richards finally enters as a contestant in the game show Running Man, a show in which the contestant is given a head start and is then hunted by professional bounty hunters and essentially, all of America. For every hour he remains alive, money is sent to his family. While this novel sends meaningful messages about corruption, pollution, and social chaos, it was only vaguely entertaining and left me feeling indifferent about the themes and book as a whole. Though it was a bit of a page-turner, by the end, I felt as though I had only wasted my time reading it. I was more optimistic in the beginning of the novel, but the twisted ending was simply unnecessary and unsatisfying. Ben Richards, who, in the start of the novel the reader identified with and was rooting for, was alienated from the reader by the end because of his extreme actions and thoughts. He began as the underdog, but quickly became a heartless man whose only aim was inflicting pain on others. Though some may argue that his actions were justified and necessary for the author to effectively get his point across, I was slightly angered by the time I had finished the novel. Though the novel does communicate some frightening truths concerning the future of our nation regarding pollution and social class separation, it was overall not worth reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
King wrote this book back when he was still pretending to be Bachman, and it is nice to see that it is being published with the King name on it because it was a great read. I was a little nervous about reading this book because lets face it, the movie was terrible. Thankfully the story is much different, better, from the one staring a certain California Governor. This is not horror story, which may turn off some King loyalists, but more of an action thriller. It's set in 2025 where the rich get richer and the poor die young. The only way to make some money for your family is to enter the Games.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the running man is one of the few books i have ever read in which i could not remove my eyes from the pages. if you were only to read this by stephen king, i think you would have a good summary of his style.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Running Man is evidence that Stephen King is the best action thriller writer around. The book is set in a world of pollution and turmoil, only twenty years ahead of our own. Only a few years ago the government made a law forcing every one to get a Free-Vee, it¿s almost like today¿s television, except for the game shows. The Game Network makes people not compete for just money but for their survival. Ben Richards, out of work and poverty-stricken and is unable to afford a doctor for his seriously ill daughter, Cathy . After watching her suffer with no medical care, he decides to collaborate with the thing he hates most, the Games. He soon gets picked for the deadliest game, if you lost you would not end up in the hospital with a heart attack or loose one or two limbs, you would die. This game name is The Running Man. I thoroughly enjoyed this well written novel it had a perfect blend of suspense action with the numerous plot twists. Besides the action and the main plot, this book illustrates our fears of the future. Stephen Kings writing leaves no room for improvement and demonstrates amazing writing anywhere. If you liked the book you would love, some of King¿s other novels. These include Salem¿s Lot, and the Dark Tower series.
Anonymous 2 days ago
I've read it before and I remembered the story and how it ends. But its One of my favorites. Excellent writing imagery.
ellison61 6 months ago
In 2025 the rich watch TV and the poor compete on TV. Ben has a sick daughter so he applies for a chase-to-the death show. He goes to NYC and then Boston. He eventually car jacks a woman and uses her purse to bluff his way onto an airplane. Swearing, violence, and social commentary. Insightful.
ryanseanoreilly More than 1 year ago
Dystopian thriller of prescient vision Stephen King wrote this novel very quickly under his pseudonym, Richard Bachman. He talks about this in the book’s prologue. As many reviewers point out, he also provides a major spoiler. So don’t read that first (unless you don’t care). Ben Richards lives in squalor and because of his refusal to punch it in like other cog fodder for the rich elite, he is outcast and unable to find suitable work. His refusal, as explained, is a refusal to put himself into a horribly unhealthy work environment. Unfortunately his idealism has caused the family unit further financial woes and his wife is forced to forsake her marriage vows to make ends meet. What could be worse? Well, how about a young child who is suffering from a curable aliment, but one which the protagonist cannot afford the medicine. Richards hates this and it spurs him into taking his idealism into full bloom, which he does by signing up for a game show that can earn the family money based on how long the participate can stay alive. If you survive for a certain amount of time, then you are home free, but of course nobody ever has. The game show uses the complete world as its stage. The protagonist literally is a “running man” being chased by man hunters who will kill him when they find him. The whole thing is televised and the general public can earn money by reporting on his location. A further twist, is that Richards has to video record himself twice a day and mail the tapes in by a certain time – otherwise he’s disqualified (oh and the man hunters will still kill him). Although, it’s claimed that the game show won’t use his mailings to track him – it’s highly suspect. Before Richards begins, he is advised by the game show’s dubious host to hide out among his own i.e. the poor (as they are the only ones who probably won’t turn on him). Richards takes this advice to heart. What follows is a maddening thriller of short successive and numerically titled chapters that count down toward the end. You can really picture yourself, as the main character. Where do you go? What do you do? Your face is plastered all over the state-run television system and everyone in the entire world will know your face and likely be motivated to turn you in for money. Do you run? Do you hide? King does a great job of letting you feel the natural paranoia that would accompany such a scenario. Every person the protagonist passes by, every time Richards stops to rest he thinks – they know! They found me out already!! Even if he can’t be sure, he can’t risk sticking around to find out. He must just keep moving. And yet, it would be almost impossible to go it completely alone. You would have to trust someone, somewhere, sometime. Again King does a good job of fleshing out the other people who Richards inevitably comes into contact with and whom he must decide whether or not to trust (sometimes without option). Through Richard’s interactions with others, we get a bigger sense of his world. This story is set in a dystopian future where the government’s manipulation of media and culture gets into 1984 type levels. The divide between poor and rich has become ocean wide, to the point that the “have’s” now even have a different currency system. Not surprisingly, we learn the powers that be are likely furthering the subjugation of the poor by worsening environmental conditions and then lying about it. Which brings out another good thing about this book, there is a struggle in the main character between looking out for his own interest (surviving the game how to provide money for his sick and struggling family) and fighting the oppressive powers dominating the poor. He knows its bad out there for everyone. Oh how he knows, how he has lived it. In fact, it’s so bad, that he’s decided to give up and make a last bid for money as he “checks out”. A sort of giving up. This is what the totalitarian regime wants. Don ‘t care don’t try. Just give in and play along. A classic scenario. And yet, the more the regime tries to get Richards to play along, the more he starts to wake up. To evolve. Suffice to say, the story culminates to a grand conclusion (that won’t be ruined if you don’t read the prologue). As far as Stephen King goes, this is a fast fast fast book! It reads very quickly and is devoid of his usual long-winded descriptions. You know that a Stephen King book (whether written as Bachman or as himself) is going to be written at a certain level – and this book is no exception. I would definitely recommend this story for those who don’t know King outside horror. He’s written in a lot of other genres – and done it quite well. Though, you still get his mastery of scaring. There is a particularly suspenseful and frightening scene involving a sewer pipe and raging fire that kept me quite on edge and is totally classic King. All in all an enjoyable read. Perfect science fiction, dystopian, thriller for a plane ride or vacation trip. And a great introduction to King’s talents for those (few) who might have overlooked him all these years. Podcast: If you enjoy my review (or this topic) this book and the movie based on it were further discussed/debated in a lively discussion on my podcast: “No Deodorant In Outer Space”. The podcast is available on iTunes or our website.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a long time King fan and i was pleased with this book and i am actually going to read all the Bachman series of books. A simple read yet very captivating. You can see the usual King crazyness on certain passages yet in a different view! I enjoyed this novel and like most of King's books I could not put it down! The main character Richards is clever, strong, yet broken. but from what I hear, I will stay clear from the movie version of this novel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this was the very first Stephen King book i finished it got me interested from the very first page. if you read this and and like it i recommend the long walk by Stephen King.
Cailalilly More than 1 year ago
I just meant to pick this up and glance through it in passing. Next thing I know I’ve skipped three classes and have to finish it. Be careful when you start this thing.
xanaduwongxu More than 1 year ago
This book did not stop once to catch its breath or let me catch mine. It was a breathless race to the end. Best to start this one at the beginning of the day and not before bed.
JULIANN1 More than 1 year ago
OMG I have loved Stephen King since my first encounter with him in 1981. I have never missed buying a single book of his and own The Bachman Books in hardcover. I read The Running Man many years ago, and just finished rereading it this morning. This is a roller coaster ride that is almost physical. Yesterday I had to stop reading midway to come to work, and I was in a heightened state of tension all day. No words can describe how terrific it is. One of the things that makes it so great is King's unmatched way with his characters. This is always true of his writing, but maybe even more in this book, as the stakes are so high. Do yourself a favor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Stephen Kings books and recently started reading the Bachman books, I have found they are not as good as his Stephen King novels but this is deff the best among the Bachmans
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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