The Road - Cormac McCarthy

The Road is one of those books that everyone has read. Or so it seems. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about so I picked up a copy from a very lovely lady on bookmooch!

Genre: Fiction, Post-Apocalyptic
Publisher: Picador
Year: 2006
Rating: 3/5

A father and his young son walk alone through burned America, heading slowly for the coast. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. They have nothing but a pistol to defend themselves against the men who stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food - and each other. 

This Road is a very different kind of read. The plot of this story is perfectly summarised in the above blurb and not much else really goes on. The story follows the unnamed father and his son, as they travel from an unspecified location towards the coast. They are in America, but what happened to destroy the land and kill off most of the population can only be guessed at. Basically this is a story of fear, survival, death, disaster and the bond between a father and his son.

This story is written in short paragraphs and short scenes making it an easy read. It is suspenseful, dark and disturbing. Although this story does not contain much action, there are enough horrific scenes and problems encountered that it kept me reading.

The two main characters are not given names, but are referred to as 'the man' and 'the boy'. Regardless of this they are well fleshed out. I wanted them to have a happy ending. Instead I was left disappointed and  feeling a little bit ripped off. The ending wasn't something I thought was going to happen and to me it didn't seem to fit well. 

Honestly, I didn't love the way this book was written. I found it a little disjointed and frustrating.  I guess I prefer books that describe and reveal rather that leave the reader guessing. Don't get me wrong, some room for imagination and speculation is great but I want an author to tell me the story, not leave it up to me to think up.

The best part of this novel was the realism associated with the relationship between the man and the boy. I could feel the fathers frustration, his desperation and fear of losing his son. I understood that he would do absolutely anything to ensure his well being. I was touched by the boy's kindness even though he was in a situation where death hovered around every bend, he still wanted to help others survive. He did not have that 'me first' attitude that plagued the survivors, he had warmth. McCarthy does characterisation well.

He also created a great sense of loss and longing in regards to the world that once was. Just imagine if some great cataclysmic event ripped through your country tomorrow, and you were one of the few left. You had no job to go to, your friends and family were gone, everything you knew and took for granted was wiped out in a second. What would you do? What would you miss the most? How would you remember those little things like TV shows, music and food? How would you feel if you knew you would never see, hear or taste these things again? What if your new world was dark, cold and lonely? What if the only way to stay alive was to keep moving? It really is a frightening idea. 

 This is a good read if you like stories about relationships and post-apocalyptic fiction.
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