Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Road - Sally's review

Also posted here

Finished: 26/04/07
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 241
Rated: A-
Cover: Paperback
Obtained from?: Library
Reason(s) for Reading: Wanted to

Opening Sentence: "...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..."

Like many of Ophra's picks The Road is full of angst and gloom. But I didn't choose it because it was one of her picks, in fact when she announced it as her pick I toyed with not reading it - as so many of her picks are so depressing and hard to read. I also ordered it from the library long before it was even announced as the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, so I didn't pick it because of that. No, I chose The Road because I am on the New York Times Notable Book Challenge and it was on the list for notable books for 2006.

So is it worth all the hype? Oh yes, I really think so. The end of the world has occurred. The landscape is burnt, no animals, no birds, no fishes, and very few people. There is a man and his young boy - very young - his mother died after the end of the world - she was pregnant with him at the time. The two 'heroes' start nowhere in particular, and seem to have no aim in mind as they journey along the road – just heading south and to the sea. We never learn what the man expects to find when he reaches his destination, or even what his destination might be. The story is just a snapshot of their life, starting on page one and finishing at the end. The Man and the child spend their time hiding from the "bad" people. These are people, mostly men, who will kill you and eat you. People have become food on the hoof so to speak. As the food ran out - humans became the only source. The little boy is convinced that there must be other good people, but the man is certain there isn't. As they travel through the burnt out landscape, they forage for any cans of food that may have escaped discovery over the previous few years. They meet a few people, most of which either try to kill them, or try to steal from them. They do help one person, but the man leaves him behind to the little boys’ distress.

There is no punctuation - my pet hate - BUT as humans and the set parameters that life exists in breaks down - what is the use of punctuation? There will be no-on around to care.

Despite the fact you learn precious little about these two characters they are very real, and through their eyes you witness the death of humanity, the breakdown of society, the struggle for survival in a world that no longer sustains human life.

Is there any hope, any point in reading the book? Well, there is always hope. And when one door closes, then sometimes another door opens. The book is well written, evocative and thought provoking. It will scare you, make you disagree, and then wonder if there could be any truth. We all like to think we are civilized people. But take our civilization away and what will we become?

So the answer to the previous question is yes read The Road, you may hate it, you may wonder what the fuss is, but some of you may just end up being as awed as I was.


kookiejar said...

Glad you liked it Sally.

You make a good point. When civilization breaks down, can people remain civilized? Almost goes along with what is happening over in the Middle East. They have no rules, no real government and look what happens, suicide bombings every day. Very thought provoking.

Wendy said...

yup - awed. I read this 240 page book in a day. Horrifying, real, and surprisingly full of hope despite its bleakness.