Title: The Road
Author: Cormac McCarthy
Genre: Sci-Fi, Post-Apocalyptic
Publication Date: September 2006
Pages: 284 (Paperback)
Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5
Courtesy of Goodreads
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other
The Road is one of those books where I feel like I have to read for an English Literature class and have a discussion to fully comprehend the underlying meaning behind the book.
The premise of The Road was intriguing but I was kind of disappointed once I started reading it. I was hoping for an action-packed book, however, this book is anything but. The synopsis explains it all. A father and son who remain nameless throughout the entire novel fighting for survival as they wander on a bleak, cold, dangerous America: a place where cannibalism is the only form of survival for those who are living.
The moment I read the first sentence I knew I was going to have an issue with Mr. McCarthy. The writing style is different and I’m assuming it’s meant to be poetic, but it was irritating. I don’t know if he was attempting to be Hemingway with his short sentences, but I was not entertained. Quotation marks are nonexistent in the dialogue, so most of the time I didn’t have a clue who was talking. To add to that, the conversation between the father and his son were dull and at times so repetitive to the point of annoyance. I assume that if you’re an accomplished writer like Mr. McCarthy, you don’t have to concern yourself with following the rules of grammar and punctuation.
As for the characters, I felt detached. Despite being in a depressing situation, I just didn’t feel that much of a connection with the father and son because of the lack of characterization and development. I also had an issue with Mr. McCarthy not providing a backstory as to how and why civilization ended. It just did. I do understand that the main focal point of this book is really about the father’s love for his son and how he’s willing to do anything to ensure his safety, but even that played out very weak. As I was reading the book was hoping that it would be addressed at some point in the book; however, it was just the same repetitive, boring conversations that the father and son had. What they were going through, was horrible but I felt so disconnected with the plot (though I’m not sure if there was a clear plot from the beginning) and eagerly wanting to finish the book as soon as possible because it was torture.
So my interpretation of this book is that the father-son relationship can be an allegory. The father represents “survival”. He frequently threatens, steals from and sometimes even kills other people to save his son and himself. The son on the other hand represents “kindness” and “compassion.” He keeps pestering his father to help those they encounter without the notion that they are bad people. Though he has only known a world filled with savagery, he’s still full of kindness and innocence. Cormac McCarthy paints a picture of what a post-apocalyptic America may look like and the only thing you can probably cling on to is the faith and hope in God especially when there is nothing else to believe in.
The lack of an insightful review for this book can be blamed at the fact that the cons of this book outweighed its pros, hence giving it only 2.5 stars. If you are looking for a post-apocalyptic novel, hoping to be entertained then refrain from reading this book. On the other hand, if you want to be enlightened and read more about a father’s love for his son and hopefully be inspired, or is in need of a book to read in one sitting, regardless of its content, then this may be the book for you.