Author: Cormac McCarthy
Genre: Science Fiction
First Published: 2006
Page Count: 287
Film/ TV Adaptation: Yes*
Rating: 5/5 Stars
*Best Book of 2013 on Without a Book
If you want to be transported to a post-apocalyptic Earth, there is no other story and no other author that has, or dare I say will, ever capture it as perfectly as McCarthy has.
*Moving and intimate look at a father/ son survival story *Haunting setting and plot *Incomparable writing
“You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget.” Every inch of the Earth is covered in ash and what isn’t already dead is succumbing to death. A man and his young son wander a seemingly endless barren road in search of the coast. Constant hunger plague the survivors of this world and coming across another human being is one of the most frightening sights one could meet wandering the road with things like cannibalism and murderous cults on the rise. The man and his son must navigate this harsh world while trying to maintain their self-anointed status as “the good guys.”
I am an avid consumer of all things having to do with the apocalypse. Whether it’s on TV (The Walking Dead), in video games (Fallout 3) , or in film (Melancholia, I Am Legend, Children of Men, etc.), I can’t get enough of seeing how others interpret what the end of days would look like. However, The Road is the first apocalypse themed work I’ve experienced that perfectly captures what a real Armageddon would look and feel like. The story is harsh, disturbing, and epitomizes complete hopelessness. The world is destroyed and will never return to its former glory in any way and humanity has lost all morality amid the chaos. It’s frightening to read about what happens to the characters, but it isn’t the events themselves that are chilling, it’s the fact that even though this is a work of fiction, if faced with utter devastation, this is probably the direction humanity would turn towards. Things like the Boston bombings, or the threat of nuclear war highlight the possibility that The Road could merely be a window into Earth’s violent future. Humans are capable of violence and total destruction; we are aware of this and that is what makes The Road so affecting.
So what are the negatives of The Road? Absolutely nothing. The book grabs you and keeps your complete attention until the last page. Even after the last word, you’re left wishing you could go on with the characters or even follow a new set of characters if it meant you could stay in this haunting world. Since there are no negatives, I’ll use this paragraph to address the other great reasons to read this book. Aside from the incredible world McCarthy has created, the father and son dynamic and their journey is just as moving. The child seems like the only innocent, good thing left on Earth, and even though the father works to preserve that goodness, nothing positive can flourish on the road. The author gives us hope that in a hopeless world some good things can survive but, as the novel progresses, the reader watches helplessly as that inner light and innocence begins to fade. Without the two main characters, the reader would not be able to fully comprehend the destructive nature of the world they live in. And to top it all off, McCarthy writes some of the most touching and memorable quotes all in one book.
If it wasn’t evident from the two paragraphs above, I wholeheartedly enjoyed The Road. I think it’s a story everyone from any background with any number of varying interests could enjoy because the story is about humans, how we treat one another, and how we treat the Earth. The book frightened me to the core because there is so much hate in the world and I think that hate becomes so blinding that people don’t really consider the effects of their actions on the future. Everyone should read this book and maybe that would cause us to stop and think about where we go from here.
*Film Adaptations: (Starring Viggo Mortensen 2009)