Book Review: The Road

When writing The Road, Cormac McCarthy uses words as a paintbrush and coats the pages in shades of grey that unfurl as both a devastated landscape and the malaise of encroaching moral ambiguity.

In the charred remains of countryside, the man and the boy eek out a desperate life as they trudge from the cold north to the hope of safety in the distant south with only a shopping cart of supplies to sustain them. This slow yet rolling story draws the reader into the sadness that would become life after an apocalyptic event. It is easy to imagine ourselves as pillars of fortitude as survivors of the wastelands of an imagined future but McCarthy looks past the bravado of the action hero and questions the daily survival of father and son in the face of utter devastation.

Although the event is never detailed, the wastelands and constant fall of ash hint to nuclear fallout which happened in the lifetime of the man. As the protective and fearful father who both leads and trains his son, the man instills in the boy the idea that they are “the good guys” and that they “carry the fire.” As all parents, he wants to keep his son safe and yet not fill him with fear. He reassures the boy that there are others out there like them but that they are hiding.

Yatkuu's take on The Road

In turn, the boy is desperate to find others like them but, in fear, the man drives away any other people they meet. As the story progresses, and the man sinks into that moral grayness so fitting with the landscape, it becomes clear that the boy will become the pillars of fortitude so long lost in the world McCarthy has created.

McCarthy ignores grammatical convention in both paragraphs and dialog which can be confusing but reflects the sparseness of the landscape. Most paragraphs read like thought in a wandering mind and that felt comfortable to me as I imagined hours of pushing a shopping cart.

I was sorely distracted by the movie while I read this book but trudged on waiting for the same longing for hope and deep lachrymose that the movie evoked for me. I am glad I did because I did find that connection and felt the satisfying warmth of closure.

The Road is a melancholy yet powerful read that immerses the reader in the cold and dark of its pages. If you take to this road, be sure to bring a tissue.

Grade: A

Another Perspective – by Dave

The Road is one of my favorite books of all time. The first time I read it, I had trouble putting the book down. I tore through its pages in a few short days, unable to absorb it quickly enough. Since then I’ve re-read it at least a half-dozen times, and I’m planning to pull it off the shelf again soon. Put succinctly, The Road is one of the best contemporary novels I’ve ever read, and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.

When people discuss The Road, it’s usually in terms of how dark, or bleak* the novel is. While the book is certainly bleak, my big takeaway (other than the breathtakingly beautiful prose, of course) was a profound sense of hope. The man and the boy, throughout every terrible challenge they face, never lose their hope. The world is destroyed, almost utterly. Society is gone. The good people of the world might also be a distant memory. But despite all this, they carry on. In the face of the impossible, the man and the boy keep their faith in something greater than man. It’s astonishing.

That said, this book gave me nightmares. It affected me in a way that few stories have. And then I read it again after my son was born, and it shook me to the core. The Road is a profoundly powerful novel, written by an absolute master of the craft.

*If you’re looking for bleakness, check out McCarthy’s most well regarded novel, Blood Meridian.



I don’t know about you guys but I’m going to bookmark this page.
Angie this is an incredible review, you have really outdone yourself here.


I still can’t believe I haven’t read this…

Great review Angelina!


Yatkuu, he’s good. Here’s how it goes:

Angelina = Princess
Angela = Trailer Trash

Not sure why but it does. lol


Cuz itz a root tootin’ time o’ a night when yer down at da trailer park roasten up some high qualiteh weenies! Aint no time not never to say no full names, nope!


Must read.. This book; I haven’t even watched the movie.. Then again.. I generally read before I watch.


The book is incredible. I’d read it multiple times before seeing the film, and was a little disappointed in the movie.


Calicade – Absolutely read the book first. I was really distracted for the first half of the book waiting for scenes to come up that touched me from the movie. And then when they finally came up, I was dissappointed because I already knew what would happen.


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