Review: The Green Mile by Stephen King

RATING: 10/10

SYNOPSIS

Stephen King’s classic #1 New York Times bestselling dramatic serial novel and inspiration for the Oscar-nominated film starring Tom Hanks!

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…

REVIEW

“I’m sorry for what I am”.

These were the last words that John Coffey, a huge black man who was sentenced to death for a murder that he did not commit, had said before he was executed. Such a simple sentence but with so much pain and emotion.

The Green Mile is one of Stephen King’s best works. The characters are all so engaging. Their emotions are all properly fleshed out. I love it when King perfectly describes the conflict that the executioners (Paul Edgecomb, Brutus Howell, Dean Stanton and Harry Terwilliger) were facing when they discovered that John Coffey is actually innocent. It is truly a very heart-wrenching read, especially the last few chapters of the book. The adaptation is really emotional but reading the book causes even more heartache with King’s brilliant writing style.

The supernatural element to me is not the focus of this story. The beauty of the Green Mile is that King explored the issue of death penalty (in particular its disadvantages) mainly from the perspective of the executioners. This is an interesting perspective as most people would expect to delve into this issue from the perspective of the victims’ families or the perpetrator. Not to mention the details that King went into describing the execution process. It is truly horrifying and gruesome. The Green Mile heavily reflects the injustice caused by racism and the flawed justice system in America during the Great Depression. John Coffey is clearly a victim of such injustice. King also explored values such as retribution, restitution, salvation, and forgiveness in the Green Mile.

“Sometimes there is absolutely no difference at all between salvation and damnation.”

Another strong 10/10 star read. You would not want to miss out The Green Mile if you are interested in reading about the death penalty from an interesting perspective.

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