I’ve only read one of the Bachman Books, and that was Blaze. (Which I don’t really count as a Bachman, just because I’ve seen King talk about Blaze in numerous pieces. But that’s just my opinion.) And admittedly, I picked this up after passing numerous YA dystopia displays and thought, “Man, I just need to get a real dystopic book with Deep Thoughts.” Kinda like my same reason why I needed to read Salem’s Lot again a few years ago. (You know, I am really still surprised that in the post-Hunger Games grab for dystopic YA, there wasn’t an enterprising publisher who said “Let’s take this Stephen King book and market it for fourteen year-old boys! They don’t want to read about girls being heroic, they need boys like them!”That’s not a suggestion, just an observation, btw.)I liked the fact that this is a slightly cracked version of America in the Seventies; there’s a lot here that’s recognizable, but something’s off. (The death march of teen boys aside, obviously.) It’s not a crapsack world, not an actual dystopia, but there are things that are wrong and it’s not right. Particularly when you have the Walkers pass by observers—there is the Obvious Commentary that Society Likes a Good Death and we are all sick and twisted. But then, the majority of the Walkers aren’t in the Long Walk to glorify death. Yes, it’s discussed that most of their families and friends see the Walk as a death certificate, and it’s not really seen as a noble undertaking. But aside from Barkovitch and the Major, none of the named characters glorifies the deaths.And this is a heavily psychological book. You get inside of Garraty’s head from the beginning, and you’re with him for the whole Walk. His whole mental deterioration as time goes on is so harrowing, that I was honestly expecting the end of the book would be him begging the Major to just kill him. (It’s not far from what actually happens, but I thought there would have been a dialogue along those lines.) And everyone else on the walk—we might not be in their heads the whole time, but we do get an idea of how mental destructive this is. Stebbins, in particular, is responsible for a lot of the breakdowns, and whether that’s intentional or not is entirely up to the reader. Barkovitch—oh god. That…his death scene. I really didn’t expect him to commit suicide, especially in the manner in which he does it. *shudder* (I don’t handle extreme gore too well. That…yeah.) Part of me did want more character depth for some of the Walkers, but then again, it’s kind of also of the point of the book too. There’s no real villain either, which is another element I think that works in its favor. There’s a Big Brother-esque government that does take care of dissidents, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s not exactly a crapsack world wherein kids grow up emulating fascist policies or everyone’s living under such oppressive conditions that I’m not surprised there’s a rebellion. It’s an extreme example of showing humanity at its overall worst.As I said, I’m not as familiar with the Bachman Books, but despite the name over the title, this is a standout book. I really enjoyed it and it hit all of my psychological buttons.