The Road by Cormac McCarthy – Review

Cover- The Road

Published: September 26, 2006

Publisher: Knopf

Genre: Science Fiction/ Fiction

Pages: 241 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0


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 the bleakest, most disheartening books I’ve ever read. Ever. The apocalypse has come and the world is ashes. Ragged, starved wanderers travel the roads, ever searching for their next mouthful of food, resorting to cannibalism when all else fails. This book really made me think about what I would do in this situation and it was kind of disturbing.

The man and the boy (our nameless characters) are travelling south, towards the coast and potentially warmer temperatures. The sun is dim in the grey sky and it gets bone-chillingly cold at night. The man is always looking for a safe place to bed down, something to burn, and food. Always food, which is becoming more and more scarce as the years go by. The boy is sadly skeletal and pale, having never known the sun’s kiss or a childhood. He is always afraid. The fact that the characters are not given names emphasizes the hopelessness of the situation. Why give names when no one cares?

While this book is immensely moving, the prose is lackluster. I’m mostly certain that this was intentional- another way to declare the depth of the situation the world is in- but found it to grate on my nerves. There were lots of “It’s going to be alright” “Okay.”” I’m so scared” and repetitively simple dialogue from the characters. The most variety I got was when they would encounter other travelers, and then things usually got violent. I’ve heard that the sentence structure can be confusing at best in the print edition, but the audiobook edition (which I listened to) wasn’t confusing in the least. This book certainly didn’t win the Pulitzer Prize for its prose.

I’m glad I finally had the opportunity to experience this book, as it’s been on my TBR for some time now. I was impressed by how much emotion could be conveyed with a simplistic storyline and limited verbosity. This definitely won’t be on my list of re-reads or favorites, because it’s downright depressing and I don’t think I can listen to it again. My eyes actually teared up near the end. I feel like this book is something that would be read in a high school or college English class, followed by a painfully long essay dissecting each and every action made by the characters. I recommend this as a singular reading experience- one that definitely won’t make you happier by the end, but will be thought provoking.


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