Book Review: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

As a writer and full-time grammar Nazi, the first thing I noticed about this book was the lack of apostrophes and quotation marks denoting the speaker. It lacked as many elements as the post-apocalyptic world described by the author.

Once I got out of my editor headspace and into my creative, I quite enjoyed the flow of this book. It was easy to become quickly and completely absorbed by the characters and the story.

The main characters, the man and the boy, are not given names. (In my head I’m thinking, “that’s smart.” Naming my characters is as tough as naming children or pets.) It’s immediately apparent that the only thing the man cares about is keeping the boy alive. I often wondered during my time spent with them why he didn’t just put them both out of their misery. 

Cormac McCarthy

McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic U.S.A. is devoid of almost everything necessary to sustain life. (I’ll happily keep my warm house, snuggly pets and tasty meals.) While the main characters travel along the road, there is an underlying current of fear created by the author. Everything and everyone are to be feared. The boy provides a beautiful dichotomy by caring for nearly everyone they come across and expressing an empathy it is clear the man no longer has. 

I started out having hope that maybe there was something for them to look forward to in arriving at their desired destination. A colony of other sane minded humans, perhaps warmth, or even food. And every time I picked up this book, I had an intense urge to feed my family. As I read on, however, the experience seemed to be one merely of survival. 

The story begs the question, how far would you go to survive? And what are you surviving for? Is there more to life than just the basics of shelter, food, and clothing?  

The author does an excellent job creating just enough hope to keep the audience engaged and the characters interesting. At one point, they discover leftover soda in a grocery store and the man has so much satisfaction watching the boy drink the sweet, sugary, almost unknown drink.

Is that what we live for? Those moments in time when tragedy falls away, and we experience something unusual? I think most of us take for granted the plethora of comforts we appreciate day in and day out. 

Just like the title, The Road takes the reader on quite the journey. I found it to be one of reflection and gratitude. Also, it helped me solidify the decision to avoid the whole end of the world thing. I’d be terrible in the apocalypse. 

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