Cormac McCarthy's bestselling novel was the last book I read for the End of the World challenge. I thought I enjoyed reading dystopian and post apocalyptic novels, but after finishing this one, I think it will be a very long time before I pick another one up. While reading this story, I was sucked into the world as it is described by McCarthy, and I had a difficult time shaking the feeling of despair he created even after I put the book down.
Something huge and terrible has happened. Ash covers the ground and floats in the air. Everything is grey, colorless, lifeless. Trees and animals have all died or disappeared. Even the sun can't be seen as it makes its daily journey through the pallid sky. A man and his son slowly make their way to the coast, in hopes of a warmer climate. They have little to no food, no shelter except what they can construct with sticks and an old tarp, and only a sliver of hope that they will make it over the mountains to the coast. If they can make it there, they have no idea what they will find. However, even amid these circumstances, the boy never loses his compassion, and his father does everything in his power to protect and care for his son. McCarthy has written a heartbreaking story about the love between father and son, and how this love can sustain them through the darkness and desperation.
The Road is the first book I have read by McCarthy, and it took me several pages to get accustomed to his sparse writing. I'm not sure if this is his usual writing style, or if he wrote this way to contribute to the tone of the story, but it was definitely effective: "He lay listening to the water drip in the woods. Bedrock, this. The cold and the silence. The ashes of the late world carried on the bleak and temporal winds to and fro in the void...Everything uncoupled from its shoring. Unsupported the ashed air. Sustained by a breath, trembling and brief. If only my heart were stone" (11). McCarthy does not use superfluous words, and every single word has a purpose and contributes to the story. Though this was an extremely bleak story, occasionally there were little bits of light seen through the boy's tenderness towards others and through his father's selflessness.
Have you read any other works by McCarthy? What do you recommend?
Also reviewed by: Nymeth, Trish, Becca, Raidergirl3, Wendy, CJ (please let me know if I've missed you!)
Date completed: September 9, 2008
# of pages: 287
I sure was cutting it close with this one--I finished it with only a week before the end of the challenge! Thanks to Becky for hosting! Of the three books I read, I think The Road will stick with me the longest, but The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood was also very memorable. Orwell's 1984 was a bit disappointing, but I think I wasn't in the right frame of mind to be reading it at the time.