Reviews: The Road

Terrible, terrible book.

I read the Road by Cormac Mc Carthy over a year ago, so this isn't as fresh in my mind as it was before.

The Road is a bad book.

The writing style of the the Road is terrible. No punctuations, long run-on sentences, and no quotations to let you know who's speaking at any point in the dialogue.

The unnamed catastrophe remains unnamed for the entirety of the book and it's one of the reasons why I wanted to throw the book out my window. The story went nowhere and nothing was resolved.

There were hints of cool things happening like the soldiers marching along the road (presumably off to some battle) or the hordes of cannibals that littered the countryside (where are they all coming from?), but those things are never explored. It's just the story of two boring characters doing nothing.

Imagine if the Star Wars films were about watching R 2 D 2 and C 3 P 0 go about their business in the rebel bases instead of watching either the space battles or other more interesting characters.

That's what the Road was like. A strange world populated with interesting events and characters, but we are forced to watch the two least interesting characters experience these events from the periphery.

Don't read this book.

The Road review

I actually liked this book. Granted, the writing style is unorthodox, but that's why I like it. This is very much a stream of consciousness book, and is very, very realistic. There isn't much plot development (or plot, for that matter), but then again, there shouldn't be. There is no plot because life has no plot. The event that caused the end of the world is never explained, because the main characters never learned it. That's why I like this book; there is absolutely no pandering to the Rule of Cool.

Original and atmospheric; yet overlong and overhyped

The Road by Cormac Mc Carthy wasn't an easy book to read. Not beacuase of the depressing characteristic of the story, no; and definitely not because of the supposed nightmare-inducing nature of what it describes. By the way it is often described, you may think The Road is the stuff horror writers think when they cry, some sort of uber play of dark storystelling. To a point, it is; or rather, it tries to be. Does it manage being so?

Not really.

Why doesn't it manage to be so? Some o the worst cases of Hype Overlash and Protection From Editors This Troper has seen in his life.

The novel is too long. Much too long. Yes, the plot is unimportant. Yes, the pacing is snail-slow. Yes, it skews over any type of deep characterization and basically says Fuck You to every idiot out there that believes in the Rule Of Cool. This is not a bad thing, and if anything this is what saves it from being a bad or an average book: it is not original in its story, but in its way of telling it. But what happens when you stripe out all the normal points of interest of a book and replace them with basicaly 200 pages of <Depressing Background Description>?

Boredom. And Oh Dear Jesus Christ has there ever been a more desperating, tedious, yawn-inducing piece of disguntingly bland matter than The Road. This is further deepened by the fact that, once you go down to it, it isn't even that terrifyng. Yes, Cormac, I know the world is dying. Yes Cormac, I know there are cannibals that eat babies. Yes Cormac, I knoooow that depressing depression rules uncontended. By page 30 i already guessed accurately what was the backstory, what the author won't tell me, more of less a basic outline of what will happen and how would the book end. I really don't know what happened here. Maybe Americans really are easily inpressed. Maybe Hype Backslash really is that poweerful. Or maybe This Troper is that fucked-up. But I didn't even find the book to be so melancholic, harsh or violent. Or maybe it is, sure, but there is no effect on the reader.

And you know what's sad? It could have had. If this book had been only half as long; heck, if the book had been a short story, I would consider it one of the prime pieces of art of the first 2000 decade. But it isn't. It just an overlong, tedious idea that goes nowhere and is dead predictable.

Bleak and gritty

For all its intents and purposes, The Road is not a bad book. What the main focus in the book is is really the setting and mood, showing how stark, terrifying and lifeless the world has become through the unvoiced, but clearly hinted at, aftermath of a massive nuclear war. Everything is dying and people have become reduced to the barest of beings in order to survive. The characters don't matter and neither does the story; there is only one true character and one true story: the survivor and the end of the world. Because this is it, a realistic and chilling vision of the absolute and utter end of the world and those who are experiencing it. We don't get a macho, improvised-vehicle-riding gunslinger or a plucky band of survivors hoping to wait out the storm. What we do get is a stream of conscious travelogue of two people wandering the dying Earth, as the Man tries to fool himself into believing that he can scrape out a meaningful existence for the Boy in this gray, ashy shell of a planet. Of course, that was one of the reasons this book bugged me at first: why anyone would want to live in this kind of world for much longer than they had to. But I realized that in this situation there would be some who would cling to the last bit of hope that something, anything, could go right after the end. Of course, being Cormac Mc Carthy, the author does everything in his power to crush that bit of hope beneath his heel (a fact I found out after reading No Country For Old Men). Yes there's barely any story to speak of, but that's the thing: the story's over. We only had the misfortune to enter it at this point. Like it or not, the world is dead, the end.