Format: Mass Market Paperback, 500 pages
Publication: June 27, 2017 by Pocket Books (originally published May 5, 1997)
Synopsis: Welcome to Cold Mountain Penitentiary, home to the Depression-worn men of E Block. Convicted killers all, each awaits his turn to walk “the Green Mile,” the lime-colored linoleum corridor leading to a final meeting with Old Sparky, Cold Mountain’s electric chair. Prison guard Paul Edgecombe has seen his share of oddities over the years working the Mile, but he’s never seen anything like John Coffey–a man with the body of a giant and the mind of a child, condemned for a crime terrifying in its violence and shocking in its depravity. And in this place of ultimate retribution, Edgecombe is about to discover the terrible, wondrous truth about John Coffey–a truth that will challenge his most cherished beliefs….
I finally decided to give this one a go after avoiding it for five years, and it blew my mind. I’d never watched the movie because I knew Tom Hanks was in it, and I sort of just blew the book off because I knew he was associated with it. Plus, I assumed it was your basic prison story, which didn’t seem all that appealing to me.
Boy, was I wrong. This is so much more than your typical prison storyline. Unlike other books (and films) with that general idea, The Green Mile had me laughing, sobbing, and dying to know what would happen next. When I finished it, I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that it was only a book – a fictional one at that. I found myself so immersed in the story and characters that I rarely payed much attention to anything around me.
I don’t often get attached to characters; I fall in love with them, but hardly any of them ever have a strong, lasting impact on me. More often than not, those that do those characters than do have this influence on me are Stephen King characters. However, none of them have ever hit me harder than John Coffey.
From the start, I knew he was a favorite for a lot of book lovers. Toward the beginning of the book, I loathed him. After reading some more of it, I started to understand the love he gets. He was one of the most genuine, caring characters I’ve ever read about. I finished the book during class, and for the rest of that time and the ride home, he was all I could think about.
The rest of the characters were wonderfully written as well – Percy Wetmore included. King always has the power – at least for me – to create such strong feelings for many of his characters, whether it be love, hate, sympathy, or something else. With Percy, that emotion was pure, unfiltered hatred. I don’t think I’ve ever despised a character as much as I did Percy Wetmore. I found his general disregard of the prisoners and other guards to be rather disgusting. Of course, these prisoners were despicable, but Percy could be downright cruel, especially with the way he acted with Delacroix (and Mr. Jingles; you can’t forget Mr. Jingles).
Now, I know Delacroix was a horrible person; there’s really no arguing that. Stephen King has the ability to humanize even the worst characters, though. As much as I hate to admit it, I loved Delacroix’s character. I often had to remind myself of what he did to end up walking the Green Mile. I couldn’t get over how much he adored his pet mouse, how far he would go to protect him. His execution truly broke my heart; my overall feelings about the death penalty aside, his electrocution went way too far – all because he laughed at Percy Wetmore, who I wholeheartedly resented from the moment he stepped on Mr. Jingles.
Paul was exceptionally written as well, of course. The way he treated his prisoners was mind-blowing. I assumed most in charge of those ruled for the death penalty would treat them about as Percy had, though not as cruelly. He truly did everything he possibly could to make them comfortable in their last weeks or months, whether that be promising something to keep their mind at ease or even just talking to them. Though I was skeptical at first, I really do think Paul Edgecombe was a good man.
Though we didn’t see as much of any of the other guards – Harry, Dean, Brutus, and Hal specifically come to mind -I’m convinced that they’re good men as well. I do wish we could have seen even a bit more of the men I mentioned, as well as Jan. Their care for John was heartwarming, to say the least. Jan’s dedication to getting him off death row was truly extraordinary to me, considering she hardly knew him.
Though I knew that John was innocent from the beginning, the revelation of the real murderer was rather shocking. I hadn’t thought the actual killer would have been discovered at all, but it did make sense when Paul explained everything.
I realize I’ve been rambling for quite a bit about the book, so I’m going to wrap it up now. Honestly, if you’ve been putting this book off for any reason, I highly suggest you grab a copy as soon as you can. I regret not reading it sooner, but I’m beyond glad I gave it a chance. Everything was so perfect, even those things that upset or angered me (not to mention names, Percy). The supernatural aspect was very subtle, so I’m sure anyone would enjoy it, whether they’re into supernatural horror or not. The Green Mile is a book that I’ll remember for years to come.
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Meet the Author
Stephen Edwin King is an American author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, crime, science-fiction, and fantasy novels. His books have sold more than 350 million copies, and many have been adapted into films, television series, miniseries, and comic books.