The Long Walk
Let me state for the record that I'm a King fan. The man can tell a story. Now, his more recent stuff sometimes blows hard and he can't often actually finish the story, but hey - the journey is usually worth it. And I think the Bachman books are some of his very best.
I like to walk. I walk a lot. It's my main form of exercise. For a fat guy, I can walk a good ways without getting winded. I think the idea of these kids signing up for the long walk - not forced into it, not even trying to save their families from ruin or anything, simply for a giant prize - is the telling point. In this world, unlike many (most?) dystopias, it's the greed or competitiveness (and the general sense of immortality that all teens have) of the individuals themselves that lead them to this worthless end. It's not economic ruin, fear of governmental punishment, or protection of the family that puts them on the road and under control of the Major. There's no need for the state to play the bully - their work is done for them by the victims themselves.
final thought: The biggest fear I took from this book wasn't that I would wind up on the walk, but that I would cheer the walkers on.