Despite a Halloween pub date, these four reprints are not King as a horror novelist. His mask as Richard Bachman, writer of Signet paperback originals, allows him to try his band at straight suspense and one Orwellian suspense-fantasy. The four reprints are Rage (1966-71), begun while King was a high school senior; The Long Walk (1967-68), done while a college freshman; Roadwork (1981), and The Running Man (1982, full-length, written in 72 hours and published untouched). Plotwise Rage is the weakest, delivering little—and that grossly—on the premise of a psycho high-schooler shooting a female teacher and then holding her class hostage while he vomits up Freudian bellywash. The Long Walk is a neatly told suspenser about a future killer marathon in which 100 entrants must walk the length of Maine without stopping—anyone who drops is shot where he falls. In Roadwork a man goes berserk and begins plotting against the state when a planned roadway extension is supposed to go through his laundry and his house. With its James M. Cain attention to occupational detail during mental derailment, this is the most restrained, thoughtful, nicely observed novel in the bunch—but the least gripping. The Running Man is a grisly, high-pitched, murderous parody of game shows. In the year 2025 prole Ben Richards is chosen to star on the ratings monster "The Running Man," in which to win he must hide out from the whole nation for 30 days—while network goons or any prize-happy citizen may shoot him. No contestant has ever won this game. The purple climax, strewn and glowing with entrails, has a touch of the true King about it. King has published duller books (The Dead Zone, Night Shift) than the late Bachman—but King at his best (Salem's Lot, and in a yeasty recent script he wrote for TV) shines far brighter than Bachman.

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 1985

ISBN: 0452277752

Page Count: 708

Publisher: New American Library

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1985

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.


Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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