30 June 2011

Book Review: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Author: Cormac McCarthy

Publisher: Picador

Publishing Date: 2010

ISBN: 9780330513005

Imagine living in a world where the majority of civilisation has been destroyed. A world where there is no food or water, no law or justice and no hope. A world where everyday is a fight for survival. This is the world that Cormac McCarthy introduces the reader to in The Road.

"What's the bravest thing you ever did?
He spat in the road a bloody phlegm. Getting up this morning, he said."

The Road is set in post-apocalyptic America at the time of an unexplained catastrophe which has all but destroyed the earth. The story centres on a nameless father and son who are trying to make their way through the bleak ash-covered wasteland that was once America. Armed with only a gun, two bullets and, a shopping trolley containing their meager belongings, the pair battle freezing temperatures, constant hunger and dangerous gangs who, like themselves, are also desperately ravaged by hunger and cold.

"He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it."

The father and son share a strong bond and there is nothing that the father will not do to protect his son. Every choice the father makes, everything he does is in the best interest of his child. Amidst all the brutality, cruelty, savagery and despair the father’s love for his son shines through and gives him a reason to continue on. Through the relationship between the boy and his father, McCarthy succeeds in conveying the message that when all else is gone, it is love that is most important.

"Listen to me, he said, when your dreams are of some world that never was or some world that never will be, and you're happy again, then you'll have given up. Do you understand? And you can't give up, I won't let you."

In The Road, McCarthy has created a world which is bleak and harsh. A world full of horror and sadness. A world where the strong prey on the weak and where the future is grimmer than the present. Through the bleak and depressing content of this book, Cormac McCarthy shows the reader what the world of the future may look like. A world I hope we never have to experience. Although bleak and, at times, depressing The Road is truly an amazing read! Highly recommended.


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