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The Road


Cormac McCarthy

The Road
average rating is 5 out of 5

Horror, Dystopia, Science Fiction

R. Alex Jenkins

Bleak, dark, depressing, no hope at all: dystopia. Lovely! 🥀

"Now call down your dark and your cold and be damned."

Because I loved the movie so much, my expectations were high, while suspecting (praying) that the book would be even better. It is, but even bleaker than expected. That's the trick, how to paint a desolate picture and successfully set the scene. The Road does it brilliantly. After 20% I felt depressed and hopeless, functioning miserably on every front.

Being destitute makes you realize how lucky you are. Desperate people struggle to survive, starve, freeze, become terrified, give up. No more opening the fridge to grab a bite to eat. You can't be happy if you never feel sad, nor truly alive if you’ve never known hardship, and this book is relentless in expressing that. Man and boy on the edge of death, on the precipice of existence, trying to make sense of it on their concentration camp march into the unknown, who somehow keep on going, pushing onward for one more day at life.

The back and forth responsive dialogue between father and son is endearing and heightens the importance of living beyond the need to just survive. Lichen and cockroaches do that. The father is incredibly mature, tender and nurturing while continuously and selflessly striving to protect his son.

No matter what, I will not send you into the darkness alone.

Cormac McCarthy does a fantastic job of building atmospheric desolation. I loved this book. I revelled in the love between father and son. I marvelled at no justification for the desolation or where it came from - the world at tipping point, ready to keel over and die for good - who cares whether it's nuclear, scientific or disease ridden?

Sometimes nothing seems to happen in the story because the sparse action comes and goes so quickly, gravitating back into the mire, grafting another couple of miles for bleak and scant reward, cramped down, cold, hungry and suffering, and yet the story remains compelling. What am I rooting for? More life, further struggle, even more suffering? Yet there's hope like a spring bud pushing through the earth. Even the smallest glimmer is worth it. A shower, fresh clothes, some proper food, anything, maybe a warm bunk, pillows, comfort, even for one night.

An incredible book. I feared watching the movie would spoil it. It doesn't. Great books sometimes inspire great movies, but bad movies don’t spoil great books. A terrific piece of life-affirming and rewarding literature, never trying to overtly shock or go over the top to attain gory recognition. It doesn't have to; the picture it paints is bleak enough to feel in your bones.

We’re the walking dead in horror films. Where men can’t live and gods fare no better.

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