‘The Road’ Review
By Cormac McCarthy (Post apocalyptic fiction, drama)
Rating: 2.5 stars
This book, by Cormac McCarthy, takes you into a post-apocalyptic world, although it is not made clear as to how or why this happened. You follow a man and a boy, kept nameless throughout the novel, as they endure through the stark times to try and get to the coast. All they have is a cart with a few supplies, and little food and water. Welcome to The Road. Has it grabbed your attention? It certainly did with me. But unfotunately, although interesting, it is an unsatisfying read. Read on to find out why.
The Road is McCarthy’s tenth novel, so it’s definitely safe to say that this man is an experienced published writer. I can’t speak for his other works, as I have not read them, but the way his book is written is slightly strange e.g. there are no quotation marks when characters are speaking; certain words like ‘shouldn’t’ and ‘couldn’t’ do not include apostrophes; very few commas are used. While I accept that people such as e e cummings did things such as this, I found the experience quite jarring. For example, “He cut his own hair but it didnt come out so good…He turned to the boy. How do I look? The boy cocked his head. I dont know, he said. Will you be cold?” For me, I spent more time getting frustrated at these minor things rather than enjoying the book, and even though that’s all they are, i.e. minor things, I still felt like they sprang from the page, and almost immediately after I began reading, the first thought that entered my mind was, “Is this writer trying to break all the rules because he can, just so he stands out from the crowd and attempts to create a bestseller or classic?”
His writing style is also a bit dreary. Although the way he describes things is excellent (as it is not too much and intelligently allows you to paint a picture in your head), about half way through the book, the plot begins to flow like treacle and I started to feel a little sleepy, especially as the writing is not broken up very much with the use of commas. Instead, McCarthy prefers to use ‘ands’, making it seem more dull than it truly is. This seems a little unnecessary.
There are, however, positives (besides the ones mentioned previously). McCarthy certainly does hit the nail on the head when it comes to the book’s bleakness, simple conversations, and emotional drama, but it’s the conversations I like the most:
“You think we’re going to die, dont you?
I dont know.
We’re not going to die.
But you dont believe me.
I dont know.”
It’s these simple conversations that I took from this book – no ‘he saids’, ‘she saids’, no really long sentences. It makes the book very atmospheric, showing both the boy’s innocence amongst other things, and for this, I applaude Cormac McCarthy. His emotional scenes truly are emotional, and at certain points I felt myself rooting for the characters, even if their only goal was to reach the coast.
But overall, it just does not add up to being a good book. I am sure that I do not stand with the vast majority on this one, but something about this book didn’t grab me. I am glad that I read it, though, even if it was just to widen my reading and learn how other writers write. However, I had a high expectation for this book, but it did not deliver. A terrible shame.