Friday, March 9, 2007

Kim's Review of The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Note: To read a great review of this book or to participate in a discussion about this book, go here

241 pages, library, hardcover
published in 2006
started 3/6/07, finished 3/8/07

First Sentance: "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."

Reason for reading: I read this as part of the NYT Notable Books Challenge

Summary:A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food-and each other.

*WARNING: If you have not read the book, there are spoilers below. Read at your own risk!

This was my first McCarthy novel, so I did not know what to expect. I had heard great things about the book so I had hoped that I would love it, too. And I actually did end up enjoying it very much. McCarthy definitely writes sparse, beautiful prose. No one can argue with that. I felt like I was traveling in this devastated, hopeless world with the father and his son (so much so, that when they found that bunker full of food and supplies, I almost cried, I was so extremely relieved and happy for them and wished they could stay forever!). I thought this was actually a wonderful story about love and how love can get you through almost anything; or at least motivate you to keep on going when all seems hopeless and pointless. As for the ending (I know there is a lot of talk about this so I will throw in my two cents): my first reaction was that the people were "bad" and wanted to take the boy and eat him. But then I thought about it and if this group had been following the father and son all that time, they could have easily ambushed them whenever they wanted to, and they didn't. The man also let the boy keep his pistol and he wrapped the father's body in the blanket , which was a nice gesture, when they could have just taken him and eaten the body. So, I do think that those people were there to help the boy. Did I like the nice, pat, hopeful ending? I would have to say (even though I am in the minority), that I did like how the book ended. It gives us hope that the boy will be OK and that is fine with me after so much sadness.
Now, I do have to say (even though I will be booed and hissed at for saying it), I enjoyed Paul Auster's "In the Country of Last Things" (another postapocalyptic novel) a little bit more than this book. I guess I am the type of reader who needs a little bit more plot to go with her prose :0)
All in all, this was a very good read and I would definitely recommend this book to people.

Favorite part:
I already mentioned the I loved the part where they found the bunker full of food and supplies, but the part where they found the house with the people in the basement was a great part, too. It was so creepy and disturbing that I couldn't forget about it for the rest of the book! And I became like the little boy; whenever the father wanted to open another door, I was scared they would find more people!

Rating: 4.25 out of 5


Wendy said...

I'm waiting to read your review until AFTER I read this book...which based on your rating of 4.25 should be sooner than maybe I had intended! I haven't heard anything bad about this book yet ;)

Kim said...

It definitely lived up to all the hype...I wasn't dissapointed :0) I will look forward to your thoughts when you get to it...

kookiejar said...

Now, I don't agree with the upshot of the ending (as I have discussed ad nauseum in Ariel's review), but I can see the 'hopeful' side of the thing. I wonder if how you saw the ending is a reflection of your personal view of humanity.

In other words, could it be that he left the ending in the air like that so that those of us with a darker mindset will see a bleak end for the boy and the more optimistic among us will be hopeful for the future? The more I think about the ending (and everyone else's interpretation of it) the more impressed I am with McCarthy's feat. I also enjoyed how he was able to keep us off guard by throwing those little horrors at us from time to time, like you mentioned.

It could just be, that no matter how much I enjoyed the book, I missed the point of the darn thing all together. In any case, I'm glad you enjoyed it and I will have to look into Auster's novel. I'm a big fan of the post-apocalyptic genre and I hadn't heard of that one.

Nice review Kim.

Kim said...

LOL, Kookie! I thought the same thing...I sometimes don't think I am smart enough to "get" some books. Oh, well. I do think that the ending could be different based on each person's personal beliefes. I do tend to look on the bright side of things, which could be why I thought the ending was optimistic. All in all, a really great book! Definitely read the Auster book if you like this was pretty fantastic!