Monday, May 31, 2010

'The Road' -Review

Publisher: Picador


Length: 307 pages

Opening Line: 'When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he'd reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.'


I've previously blogged about how much reviews have influence on my choice of reading and this is one of those times. I chose to read this book, because of all the positive reviews I have read about it.

The story revolves around an unknown man and his son, travelling along a road. It is not clear where they are going, but they are trying to find safety after the earth has been destroyed in a disaster of apocalyptic proportions (the disaster is equally unknown, the only clues that the reader has, is that everything is burnt to ashes and the few people who are left, will go to extremes to survive).

Firstly, I found that the writing was rather sparse and barren. Punctuation is rarely used and at the beginning, this really annoyed me. I'm one of those people that find it uncomfortable reading a novel, with spelling mistakes in it. However, I soon got used to this and I think that the writer was clever, in the sense that by stripping the writing and punctuation down to a bear minimum, that added to the barren environment, in which the two main characters are faced with.

One criticism of this novel would be that I had problems, when the characters were talking to each other. There are no clear indications, as to who is talking to who. Sometimes the speech was labelled 'he said'(more often than not this wasn't the case), but as there are only two male characters at the forefront of this novel, sometimes I had to go back and re-read the conversations, in order to clarify this.

The landscape that McCarthy describes, is as equally sparse and barren, as the writing. However, I have never known a writer to describe the world within a book, so beautifully. McCarthy is able to take a muted, depressing landscape and shade it with interesting and powerful description.

All of these elements, are carefully wrapped around the relationship between the father and son. There is so much soul in their relationship, that I felt captivated by their plight and I couldn't put this book down. It is strange to have only 2 main characters within a novel, (with the exception of a couple of very brief cameos from other characters) but this novel is all about humanity and the strength to survive and these two characters encapsulated this message for me.

In retrospect, this novel should have been depressing and boring. However, this book is compelling, beautiful and left me with a feeling of optimism for the human race.

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