Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Road

            I finished “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy awhile back and I’ve been delaying the review because I’m really at a loss as to what to say.  The premise is pretty simple: it’s about an unnamed man and his son surviving in a post-apocalyptic world.  There really isn’t much more that happens.  The boy and man scavenge for food, evade cannibalistic tribes of humans that roam the desolate world, and constantly face death.  The sparse story reflects the meager existence of the two main characters whose worlds start and end with each other.

            Despite the minimalist approach to story, the novel never drags or seems dull.  “The Road” is driven by its atmosphere, which is gritty, dirty and void of hope.  Throughout the whole story I couldn’t help but be reminded of the world in the popular video game “Fallout 3,” an association which unfortunately spoiled the book for me a bit since “Fallout 3” took post-apocalyptia more lightheartedly than this utterly humorous novel.  Though with the topic of the destructive powers of video games aside (I kid, I kid. Video games are great), it can’t be denied that McCarthy really excels at setting the grim tone with his prose.  Much like the story, the writing was simple yet powerful.  The sentences are short and to the point suggesting a rather simplified and animalistic thought process that arose in the wake of civilization’s destruction.

            I have to admit I didn’t completely “get” this book.  I followed the religious and moral undertones well enough, I think, but the end still puzzles me.  I won’t say any spoilers but the final event of the novel is so incongruent with the rest of the occurrences in the novel I’m stuck wondering what it means, if it’s as it seems or if it even occurred in the post-apocalyptic world.  This isn’t a complaint, just a musing.  There’s nothing wrong with a book that makes you think.

            “The Road” is a very human look at the apocalypse, a subsection of dystopian literature that is rarely explored with such mastery.  I wouldn’t say this is an enjoyable read because the subject matter is far too depressing. I also wouldn’t say that a year from now I’ll be thinking back and remembering it’s message often but I do believe this book has the potential to be a memorable read, especially for parents.  The book never quite clicked for me and I don’t know why since it has all the markings of a book I would like.  It’s not a novel I would actively recommend but I wouldn’t try to persuade someone against reading it either.  In the end to most eloquent thing I can say about it is that, “The Road” was okay.

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