Jan 19, 2010

The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

I'm sure you've all heard about The Road by now. It's a bleak post-apocalyptic story about a father and son trudging along a road through desolation, trying to reach the southern coast where they might find a warmer climate and survive the winter. Everything is burned to ash, most people and all animals are dead, stores and houses have already been looted so it's difficult to find anything to eat. And the few survivors they meet are extremely dangerous men. The only thing really keeping them going is their love for each other, their despair in seeing each other suffer, the faint glimmer of hope that on the coast they might survive. Because alone, neither one of them would last long.

I didn't really have this book on my TBR but when my neighbor having just finished it, offered to loan it to me, I figured why not see what everyone's talking about? Plus, his copy was pretty beat up and it's an author I haven't read before, so I could count it for both the New Authors and the Dogeared reading challenges. Although I read through it pretty quickly, in a matter of two days, not really wanting to put it down, somehow it left me unmoved in the end. Plenty of awful things happen in this book. It is disturbing and depressing and dismal. But I didn't cry. I don't feel devastated and horrified, although I think I ought to.

Perhaps it is the writing style: brief, clipped sentences which readily reflect the atmosphere of the book. Not to say they aren't descriptive; at the end I looked up some twenty-four words that were unfamiliar to me, and found they all had a very precise meaning. But the concise writing, while enabling me to read through the book very quickly, failed to connect me emotionally. And the few hints at what had happened prior to the book's events- what caused it all, where is the boy's mother- are scanty enough to leave you to come up with your own ideas, which I found frustrating. I just wanted to know more. To feel more. This might be one case where the film outshines the book, I just might respond more to a visual impact than I did the paucity of details in the text.

So... I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. It's a good book, I was engaged and intent to find out what happened next all the way through. But it didn't leave much of an emotional impact on me, despite all the horrors therein and the heartstring-tugging relationship between father and son.

Rating: 3/5 ........ 287 pages, 2006

More opinions at:
Trish's Reading Nook    
Things Mean a Lot It's All About Books
Passion for the Page The World Inside My Head
Under the Dresser
Diary of An Eccentric
Book Addiction


  1. This book has been hyped a lot making me hesitant to pick it up. But like you, someday I might chance upon it and not put it off any longer. Good review!

  2. Like you, I wasn't nearly as taken with the book as most other people seem to be. I didn't enjoy the writing style very much, and the book didn't seem to do anything new with a post-apocalyptic story. I haven't seen the movie yet, but would like to.

  3. Thanks for the link! I really liked this overall, but like you, I wish there had been more information about what caused the world to change so dramatically.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  4. I haven't read this one yet, and I'm not sure I want to. I'm just not into bleak and depressing.

  5. I was already a bit leery of reading this book when I only knew the basic plotline, and when I discovered there are no quotation marks, I decided it definitely wasn't for me. I love punctuation! :P

  6. I've read mostly glowing reviews of this book, so it was nice to read an opposing opinion, for a change. I am still intrigued by this book, and I hope to pick it sometime soon.

  7. Somehow the writing worked for me, but at the same time I can totally see how it could cause readers to feel detached.

  8. Normally with this type of story and the focus narrowed towards just two characters I feel an emotional connection, but The Road didn't have that effect on me. It almost felt as though I'd read an abstract rather than a complete story. However I do think the movie may be more powerful for me, seeing such a struggle and the emotions that come with it.

  9. I bought this ages ago (3 years?), but haven't yet read it. My husband did read it, and commented about the vocabulary, same as you.

    I think I'll have to read it outdoors in the sun; it's too dark for winter reading.


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