Can I start by saying how much I hate that the words in biggest type on this cover are Stephen King? Stephen King did not write this book. Richard Bachman did. (And please don't talk to me about how they're the same person.) The publisher did allow there to be an introduction to this edition, written by Stephen King, that essentially explains and excuses the existence of Richard Bachman, but that's small consolation.
This was not my first Bachman book. I have been a fan of both Bachman and King for more than half my life. This was also not my favorite Bachman book. That honor belongs to The Running Man. But I found The Long Walk to be profoundly moving and deceptively simple.
The story takes place entirely on the road, during an annual endurance competition for boys. It opens on day one of the competition, and closes when the competition is completed (won?) by the last boy. And what is the endurance competition? A walk. 100 boys walk 24 hours a day until there's only one boy left alive. That's it.
Hence the deceptive simplicity of the story. On the surface, there's not a whole lot to it. But through the story of the Walk, through the interactions of the Walkers, the reader gets hints at so much more. The narrative never leaves the road, but we learn the family backgrounds of many of the Walkers, the psychology of the whole endeavor, and even a glimpse at the larger political and economic situation of the culture in which such a contest would occur.
I was very impressed with the story-telling. And I highly recommend this read.