Title: The Green Mile
Author: Stephen King
Page Count/Review Word Count: 435
Wow, what can I say? I’ve never been a huge fan of Stephen King, I started with The Shining and found it too wordy with not enough action, although I do think he’s got better over time. The Green Mile, though, is a masterpiece of both storytelling and characterisation – it’s a rollercoaster of emotions, and while it’s predominantly dark, there are plenty of reasons to fall in love with it, from the childlike innocence of John Coffee to the endearing Delacroix. Hell, at times you forget that they’re on death row, convicted of a level of brutality that’s only matched by Percy Wetmore, a sadistic young guard who serves as one of the main antagonists.
One of the interesting things about The Green Mile is that it was originally released in serial form – it came out in six low-priced paperbacks, with King attempting to imitate the form that made Dickens so successful. But for King, who was already a huge success, it was more about the challenge that the form had to offer – it forced him to stick to deadlines, and it helped him to focus on just the one piece of work.
And, let’s be honest, the characterisation is fantastic, whether we’re talking about Paul Edgecombe, one of the prison wardens and the narrator of the story, or whether we’re talking about John Coffee, the giant of a negro who shows an amazing ability to understand and to heal his fellow human beings, despite being convicted of the brutal rape and murder of two young girls. You really get a feel for what it must be like to live on death row, and the way in which the subtle interplay of relationships between the wardens and the inmates must face a sudden, cataclysmic shift after every execution.
This, then, is a book with everything in it, from fascinating characters to a strong story-line, and it’s impressively well-written to boot. The film adaptation is incredible, and many people rank it as one of their favourite films of all-time, but in my opinion the book is better. It’s the kind of story that you’ll never forget, and even if you did then it’d be a blessing because you’d be able to re-read it.
So go out there and grab yourself a copy of The Green Mile – if you want to be a true book geek then try to track down the original six volumes. They’ll just keep going up in value over the years.