Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
Perhaps the most unequivocally gloomy novel I've ever read, The Road takes place on a seemingly doomed near-future Earth, in which some unspecified but massive disaster has made the world nearly unlivable. Crops are dead, all traces of law and order are long gone, and what's left of humanity has been reduced to roaming scavengers and bands of cannibals. The novel focuses on a man and his young son, who are making their way across what used to be the United States "towards the south". In what seems to be Cormac McCarthy's style, we learn little about their backstories -- only their struggle to keep going through a hellish, benighted world that could only be described by his stark, weighty prose. Indeed, McCarthy's complex, sometimes arcane descriptive language seems to reference other dark, visionary works in English literature, drawing in some of their power.
There's not a lot of "plot" to the book. Mostly, the two characters wander, just trying to find enough water, food, and shelter to get through the next day. Even during the stretches where nothing "happens", McCarthy gives each moment a palpable weight: the exhaustion, the fear, the tension of not knowing what's around the next corner, the emptiness of a dead world, the lure of an escape by suicide, and a father's desperate bond with his son, who is young enough to not fully understand the meaning of the reality around him. And there are some truly harrowing scenes, as well.
This isn't the easiest novel to take in, though, like McCarthy's Blood Meridian, I also found it mesmerizing and hard to put down. There are even strange moments of beauty in the shadow. Like few works in apocalyptic literature, The Road goes all the way to the edge of abyss, extinguishing hope down to the tiniest flickering flame. Yet, as long as that flame remains, there is no looking away. A powerful book, and one that might make you gaze into your own soul.
I like McCarthy's writing style, but its never been better than in The Road. The setting is a bleak future, a man and his boy holding on to each other despite having absolutely nothing to live for. The story moves along well, with McCarthy's brilliant prose, but the bleak atmosphere is not something all will appreciate.
Many criticize this book because of the lack of sophisticated dialog. In fact, a man and his son travelling along a road in the cold of winter probably would not have many deep, philosophical discussions.
The story is simple, but it's what McCarthy does with it that gives its complexity.
There are some moments in the story that are some of the most memorable I've ever read; particularly the man's remembrance of the final conversation he had with his wife.
The author manages to introduce a fair amount of realistic suspense into the story. I cringed at what the man found in the basement of that house...
McCarthy is one of the most brilliant writers, and he is at his absolute best here. But you'll probably either love it or hate it.
Oh yeah, Tom Stechschulte's narration is perfect for this book.
Audible editor and data evangelist. Lover of fiction, classics, thrillers, celebrity memoirs, and quirky teen novels.
Set in a cold and dark post-apocolypic America, The Road maintains a steady pace of bleak hopelessness. The father/son pair have lost everything, including their identities, and are on an unknown journey towards something better. The story captures their bond and persistence, with tiny glimmers of hope in a seemingly endless void. Tom Stechschulte's narration is spot-on and chilling, and stayed with me long after the end.
Cormac McCarthy's 'The Road' is a black book of wondrous paragraphs that quickly pulls you into the sad, sad world of the man and his boy. I found myself sitting in my car long after my commute ended to hear more and more of this story.
This book is not chock full of action and adventure. However, I didn't feel the story needed all that drama. It was very real, and it made me think long and hard about what life would be like if I were in the main characters shoes, with no real place to go because everywhere has been affected. To be one of only a handful of survivors, left to scavenge for any semblance of life, is a powerful, heavy thought.
The author did a wonderful job of leaving out pertinent details that can be left open for interpretation, yet giving the reader a heavy dose of details in other aspects. I liked that the father and son are nameless (they are referred to as the man and the boy throughout), and that the details of their prior lives are scarce.
Lastly, the narrater was phenomenal. I was really able to vividly visualize the man and the boy as he spoke, thanks, in large part, to his delivery.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone!
Literary graduate and published columnist turned glorified grease monkey.
I actually stopped reading this half way through the first time. It was just too slow for me. But then I came back to it and started again and made it through. I realised, it is supposed to be slow. It's a post-apocolyptic tale of a man and his boy wandering a desolate land. The pace of the story just serves to emphasise the desparation of their situation. It is a bleak future and they struggle through it. After a while I started to get annoyed with the kid, he always seems to state that he's cold or he's hungry or he's scared, and this doesn't help the narrative. I think the reader can assume these emotions from a 10 year old boy wandering the Earth alone with his father and a shopping cart. On top of that, the man constantly repeats what the boy says and that is frustrating. But it is an interesting survival story and McCarthy is a good teller. The Narrator did very well to instill a sense of hope and the lack of it. The plot gradually builds towards the end, and although I struggled to find excitement in the events that unfolded few and far between, whenever the characters discovered something really rewarding, I felt like I was right there with them.
This book is emotionally brutal. I read previous reviews stating that the reader was tempted to stop reading several times, and I must concur wholeheartedly. There were times that my fear and or horror were just about at their limit. However, this book is well worth the tough journey. And I must give full credit to the narrator, who truly brought these characters to life. A very fulfilling book about parental love and a faith in humanity.
I was so moved by this book. I got it because I like "post apocalyptic" stories, but this was very different. Most end of the world stories are ultimately about starting over, going back to Eden, building a better world than the old one, etc. This was much more an allegory about the nature of hope, and what it means to be "one of the good guys."
Seriously dark, like extra dark with a side of dark, but beautiful and poignant, in a way that it couldn't be if it wasn't in that stark contrast with darkness and despair. The story strips away all the trappings of the world until all that's left is who we are and what we believe in. I didn't take it especially literally, but wondered if we aren't each of us both "the man" and "the boy" and our lives are "the road." That's probably just me being flaky though.
I thought it was really really good, but man, I'm planning to follow it up with something mindless and perky!
I didn't intend to like this book, but I couldn't stop listening and ended up loving it! We're actually thinking of adding it to our reading list at the school where I teach for American Lit. This is an incredible story of a man and his child's journey to survive in an America we hopefully never have to experience. The fear of evil, and the light within us carries the reader through. In some ways we can all identify with the narrator, a man trying to survive and learning to parent in a world where there is little good except that in his own child. A beautiful story, and it's not overly "sci-fi-ish" so anyone can really enjoy it. I think it's a book anyone of any age or sex can really enjoy.
The reader is fabulous. I've stopped books because I just couldn't listen to the reader anymore - not because the book was bad. Here, the novel is spare, eerie, melancholy. The reader captures Cormac McCarthy perfectly.