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The Green Mile by Stephen King

The Green Mile (original 1996; edition 1999)

by Stephen King

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,30689483 (4.23)1 / 213
Title:The Green Mile
Authors:Stephen King
Info:Pocket Books (1999), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:read in 1990s, thriller, movie, horror

Work details

The Green Mile by Stephen King (1996)

  1. 40
    Different Seasons by Stephen King (sturlington)
    sturlington: If you enjoyed The Green Mile, you should read King's novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, contained in this collection.
  2. 31
    Mystic River by Dennis Lehane (shesinplainview)
    shesinplainview: Different stories, but both are about people who had to pay for murders they didn't commit.

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English (87)  Portuguese (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (89)
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The Basics

Paul Edgecombe is the lead guard on the Green Mile, the corridor at Cold Mountain Penitentiary that houses those on death row. It's an unforgiving and thankless job at its best. At its worst, when the child-like John Coffey comes to the Mile, Paul is faced with the very real possibility that sending Coffey to "Old Sparky" might be murder.

My Thoughts

Here is the problem with falling into a reading slump that lasts almost two months. I read this book in February, and it is currently June. So bear with me if my thoughts seem scattered.

I saw the movie before reading the book. In fact, I saw it in the theater when it was first released. Being I was in my teens, I don't think I appreciated the depth of this story as much as when I recently revisited it via the book. Not to mention I feel the movie sugarcoats a lot even though it is surprisingly loyal to the novel. This story contains a lot of darkness, typical of King, and hope, also typical of King, but the film seems to mostly concern itself with hope and not the edges of darkness that creep in around it.

That was part of what I loved about this book. There's a sinister realism to a situation that has hope but is still deemed basically hopeless. There's no escaping what has to happen at this book's climax, and while there are bits and pieces that justify the ends (and part of me can't decide if that's necessary or if that was King trying to soften the blow), it's still a tragedy. Even if you can sort of convince yourself that based on certain exchanges between characters, it's for the best, it still will feel like it isn't. But that is one of King's undeniable strengths.

Here's something I'd like to address that may have been just my point of view flavoring the story. The whole thing felt very anti-death-penalty. I'm bringing that up because I appreciated that about it. Watching these characters face "Old Sparky", particularly Delacroix and Coffey for differing reasons, was a horror. It wrenched at you as a reader. The one character that you might ache to see get his moment in the chair, justice was served in an entirely different way. It was as if that chair was destined to only cause an inordinate amount of suffering and not toward the people who deserved it. I feel King was making a statement there, and it's subtle enough that it does require some pondering to get there, so I appreciate that he didn't hit me with a moral anvil but rather nudged. Just so happens it was a message worth delivering, too.

Also, need it be said I bawled?

Final Rating

( )
  Nickidemus | Sep 18, 2014 |
A bit different from King's normal work but still amazing. I loved how each character was written. Even the ones that were 2-d had redeeming features. The novel is about a man who has supernatural abilities but is sent to jail under the assumption that he killed two children. It's moving and sad. Worth it. ( )
  Rosenstern | Sep 14, 2014 |
One of my new favorite books.

This book makes you think about religion, god, good and evil, and humanity. It leaves your heart hurting, yet your mind racing and open.

On an even deeper level it makes you question racism along all the lines I mention in the previous sentence. As an African American woman I get tired of reading stories with overt racist elements, but the way this story is spun will make people who read it, I hope, question what it means that a God (if you believe) created creatures who could be so vile and petty to distinguish between skin colors, and what it means that the person he gave this amazing, HEALING gift to was a black man, especially for the time period this book is set in.

  Czarmoriarty | Aug 19, 2014 |
( )
  briealeida | Feb 6, 2014 |
Supernatural with elements of magical realism. It was interesting how the story is both set in E Block and in The Georgia Pines Retirement Home and how they are compared with each other a little bit. ( )
  SebastianHagelstein | Jan 4, 2014 |
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First words
This happened in 1932, when the state penitentiary was still at Cold Mountain.
Atonement was powerful; it was the lock on the door you closed against the past.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This isn't actually just one volume, but a collection of six separate parts of the whole...
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Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
At Cold Mountain Penitentiary, along the lonely stretch of cells known as the Green Mile, killers await death, whilst their guards watch over them. Good or evil, innocent or guilty, none of them have ever seen the likes of brutal new prisoner John Coffey, seemingly a devil in human form.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0671041789, Mass Market Paperback)

This novel taps into what Stephen King does best: character-driven storytelling. The setting is the small "death house" of a Southern prison in 1932. The charming narrator is an old man looking back on the events, decades later. Maybe it's a little too cute, maybe the pathos is laid on a little thick, but it's hard to resist the colorful personalities and simple wonders of this supernatural tale. As Time magazine put it, "Like the best popular art, The Green Mile has the courage of its cornier convictions ... the palpable sense of King's sheer, unwavering belief in his tale is what makes the novel work as well as it finally does." And it's not a bad choice for giving to someone who doesn't understand the appeal of Stephen King, because the one scene that is out-and-out gruesome can be easily skipped by the squeamish. The Green Mile was nominated for a 1997 Bram Stoker Award.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:38:43 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Contains all six installments of the serialized horror novel about death row prisoner John Coffey and his fellow inmates and guards in the Green Mile wing of Cold Mountain Penitentiary.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 12 descriptions

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