A Trip Down the Green Mile

What a depressing book. From start-to-finish, I couldn’t wait to be done. Every turn of the page seemed to bring on a new horror. From squashed mice and executions gone terribly wrong, to evil-hearted characters and an unsatisfactory ending, there was plenty to be upset about. That said, Stephen King’s The Green Mile was no disappointment.

Here’s a quick summary, so you know what I’m talking about: Paul Edgecome, a death row correctional officer, is responsible for carrying out the death penalty for those assigned to Cold Mountain Penitentiary’s death row, nicknamed Green Mile for the color of the green linoleum flooring leading to the electric chair. There he witnesses a handful of supernatural healings at the hand of a prisoner, John Coffey. The story centers around this character’s abilities and how those around him are affected.

Stephen King is known for his unrivaled handle on the mystery, horror, and fantasy genres. He’s a master at his craft. The Green Mile is an important piece of his writing legacy. While addressing difficult topics, such as the death penalty and mental health, he also somehow instills a degree of warmth. Death penalty and warmth, you say? Ludicrous.

But it’s true. King’s character development is, as ever, excellent. You know where characters stand from a moral perspective fairly early on. And even though the prisoners are there on death row for horrible reasons (mostly rape and murder), King humanizes them enough that you are able to see them as more than their crime. Beyond their heinous actions, they are humans. And I think that’s one of the strengths of this book.

The only real complaint I have, other than that the book was awfully sad, is that it took a lot time to get to the plot. There was a lot of backstory before I actually knew what the book was going to be about. Even so, I will admit that once I got to the real story, I was grateful to know as much as I did.

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