Hey it’s Rose here! I’m bringing you my review of the infamous The Road by Cormac McCarthy.
It’s depressing. I cried. I never cry. I’m ashamed of myself.
Like most people, I finished the book in one sitting. McCarthy’s stripped down novel is an all absorbing, desperate tale of life after the apocalypse and won’t be put down easily. It is well known for its bleak outlook that is mirrored by the writing style.
The book follows a father and his ten year old son as they head towards the coast, to the promise of an easier life. The reason for the apocalypse is never revealed. The only thing the reader knows for sure is that it has left ash and death in its wake. Throughout the book the two search for food and are on the brink of starvation, often finding food through convenient luck. They survive, but barely.
The human race has become a grotesque, unrecognisable mess with rape, murder and cannibalism rife in the post-apocalyptic landscape. The father has to constantly fight to keep his son from being taken by these monsters. This is the reason why the mother isn’t there; she couldn’t handle the constant fear and therefore left her son with his father. Throughout the book she haunts the father as he battles to keep the boy alive.
I wouldn’t say I particularly liked the characters; the father is bearable for his love of his son, the mother is selfish and the son gets on my nerves. Clearly it must be hard to live in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where everyone is trying to kill you and you are so hungry you can’t sleep. However, to me, the ten year old felt like a very cold character, detached with a strange wish to push his traumatised father to his very limits. As a child born after the apocalypse, he did not know the world before and sometimes can put the reader into a sombre mood, but he is the hope that the human race will be able to continue living. I think that is why the book is so effective – we all secretly feel The Road will come true in its predictions of humanity after the apocalypse.
On the other hand, the motif of ‘the fire’ is a reminder that there is hope for humanity. The boy must carry this fire or be consumed by the wretched world. We see him taken in by another family which has a daughter. After all the destruction, McCarthy offers us one small spark of hope.
The end is where your heart really breaks. And that’s where I cried.
This book is not an enjoyable read but a necessary one. It’s depressing but wonderful, with its terrifying images of nightmarish life and the world that was left behind. The plot can drag at times as the only driving force is a wish to get to the coast, but it’s a reflection of life in the after, where all there is to do is survive.
I definitely recommend you read this,