This book was quite violent and gross and the protagonist was a stubborn rebel… who insisted on getting married for life rather than following the societal norm of a few year contract. It is his loyalty to his wife (who made extra income as a prostitute) and his sick baby girl who needed medicine–a need which motivates Ben Richards to volunteer to be a player for the Games Federation which more or less runs the former US.
I have to admit I loved this book. It is every bit as important as Bradbury’s Farenheit 451. At one point I started wondering if King had studied the works of Rene Girard. The America of King’s 2025 is a stratified society where peace is kept through sacrificial scapegoats seen on reality TV. The top show, The Running Man, involves hunting a man to his death. He gets money for every day he stays alive (assuming he sends in his videos) and even more for killing policemen who are trying to kill him.
There are a lot of times when I felt King was really not able to suspend my disbelief… except that I never wanted to stop reading. It is easy to see King’s book as prophetic (the rise of reality television for example) and also an expose (through hyperbole of US society now). I especially liked the subtle invocation of H. G. Wells’ Morelocks.
By the way, just forget about the movie when you read this novel.