Book Review – The Road By Cormac McCarthy (2006)

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I really wanted to love this book as it was sent to me from the wonderful Rhonda after I commented on her review of it on her blog.  I have to be honest my feelings towards if went on quite a roller coaster as you will see.  Thank you so much for sending me this hun.

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When considering this book there are two very distinct elements that you have to consider, style and content and in discussing them I feel it is better to deal with them separately.

Stylistically I loved this book.  The decision to not divide the text into chapters really suits the story line of an on going journey.  The lack of definitive time specifications again allows you to grasp the concept of timelessness which the characters are forced to contend with.  We live in a society which is regulated constantly by night and day, work and play, travel and commuting times, we are led to believe if we plan well enough we can achieve anything and everything, the idea of having everything you know stripped away is terrifying.  The book disorientates you removing all the normal reference points by which we judge things, places no longer have names and though we know the characters are using a map we like they have no way to be sure that the map is accurate.  One thing stylistically that did annoy me slightly is the whole boy/man thing, now I really understand why he does it, again it breaks down the normal relationships to their basest component but this is a father and son and we are supposed to believe that they have a close bond yet never is the boy called by a name by his father and rarely does he call his father by his title or Papa as it is when used.  At times it is hard to be sure if it is the man or the narrator who refers to the boy as such and can be a little confusing at times but I saw this as a reflection of the slow degeneration of sanity when placed in this sort of situation.

There are some amazingly descriptive passages which tear at your heart strings, the depiction of the total destruction of the earth and the devastation visited upon its inhabitants is terrifyingly vivid.  You are never actually made aware of what has happened, the original event is hinted at while never actually defined.

Now we get onto my real gripe with the book, I totally understand that it is about the journey and the sense of hopelessness and what struggle for survival does to the human psyche.  But when you have written to the point your characters are about to starve then to suddenly have them stumble upon a bounty of food that has supposedly been overlooked by every one else is a step too far.  To do it three times is pushing the reader beyond belief.  It was the only aspect that really spoiled the book for me though I will say I did have issues with the absent mum but they were of a personal nature inspired by reflecting on the book rather than by any failing of the book itself.

I give the book 4 out of 5 it is worth a read for the way it is written alone, but there are some wonderfully written parts just be prepared for a little frustration at the actual story itself.  Or check out the film I haven’t seen it but my other half has and says I should have watched that first lol.

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4 comments on “Book Review – The Road By Cormac McCarthy (2006)

  1. I dunno, never read the book, but the movie was a soul-sucking exercise in self-flagellation. Crike it didn’t even really have anything redeeming about it. No matter how bad things get, there’s usually something redeeming, isn’t there? Maybe the book does this better.

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  2. I liked the book, although it was incredibly bleak, even for a post-apocalyptic story. He did write the characters very well though. I found that the lack of quotation marks made the book seem very “quiet” to me, as if everyone was whispering. However, it suited the story. I see your criticism about the caches of food, although I think it was to show the temptation to stay as opposed to going. Maybe more than once was too much though.

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  3. Pingback: On Reviewing: Sharing the Journey

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