You remember that book review I talked about in my last blog entry? Well, here it is. The book up for review today is Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. The plot unfolds in a post-apocalyptic America. When I write the word “unfolds” I mean it. This book is written in such a way, that it gradually unveils key plot points and keeps the reader interested until the end.
The plot throws the reader into the post-apocalypse with a chilling description of the world from the view of one of the main characters. In this scene, the character in question has awoken from a dream in the middle of the night. The character describes the night as “dark beyond darkness” and the days “more gray each one than what had gone before. Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world.”
The two characters in the book remain unnamed throughout. This works only because the plot never has enough characters at any given point to warrant a need for specific differentiation. The largest amount of characters to exist at any given moment in the plot is 4. The two main characters are introduced only as the man, and the boy. The tone throughout the novel can only be described as one of loneliness and despair, and the introduction of the characters in this way really aids in setting it.
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 above quote describes, far better and I can, what the man and the boy must endure throughout the entire novel. The sense of desperation and heartache is so great at times that the grit found in the man and the boy is almost unfathomable. Determined to survive they push on, well passed the limits of what the reader will likely think possible – perhaps only because the characters have already encountered the unthinkable when we meet them at the start of the novel.
While death, loss, and grief overshadow the novel, even at the darkest of times the man and the boy can see the light. After seeing the things that make the man and the boy happy, the reader will likely find a sense of appreciation. If there was ever a novel to help show someone how to appreciate what they have, this one is it. The author does an excellent job of building up a small amount of happiness before he tears it apart with a giant helping of terrible – again, and again, and again. After reading this novel, I really want the think that humans are capable of this kind of perseverance – it is inspiring.
If you’re in a bad place in life, I believe this novel is one you should avoid. The sadness really lingers with this one. I found myself very attached to the characters. When something heart wrenching happened, I found my own heart wrenched. When the novel ended, I found myself searching the last few paragraphs hoping I could find some semblance of happiness; a better ending.
I wanted the sun to come back out, and it never did.
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