Ever since I started to write more reviews, I would always take time to rate TV shows, movies, and especially books. Usually, I will read just about anything that perks my interest just from reading the synopsis, but then I would get a really bad ending and not even talk about the book again. With the book I am reviewing today, The Road, the rating-situation takes a whole new turn. From the moment I read the thrilling synopsis to slowly reading—while sobbing—through last few words of what is now my favorite novel, this book kept my attention with surprising turns and so many emotions.
This novel by Cormac McCarthy takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where a man and his son walk along through the bombed North America to get to the Southern part of the States to stay safe. On their journey, the boy and the man have to survive harsh winters without the right clothes and food to keep them safe.
As a freshman in high school, my father gave me this book to read since I ran out of material to read before making a huge cross country move, even though this story is considered to be a college-level read. When I first read the book, I was able to understand the basic premise, why the main protagonists are not named, imagery, character developments for the two main characters, and a couple symbols used in the story, but when I picked up the book again this year, I was able to pinpoint many more symbols than I had the first time around. McCarthy uses many symbols throughout his novel to create crystal-clear imagery for the readers, including the dark skies, which represent bad situations are about to arrive, and the roads, which represents the motivation to keep moving. There are many more symbols used to create a wonderful piece of literature, but those are the only symbols I will mention because the other ones contain spoilers for the readers.
In this allegory, McCarthy’s tone tends to shift in certain sections of his novel. One major shift in tone would be from sweet and tender to elegiac and unwavering. This tends to happen consistently throughout the novel as the author successfully uses horrifying imagery of the terrifying skulls on spikes and humans waiting to be slaughtered in a cellar. He does this to keep the reader’s attention throughout his novel and add some hidden themes into his story. The readers also find the narrator’s tone to be nostalgic during the times he tells the story of the man’s past before the United States was burnt down.
Speaking of themes, McCarthy throws in a whole bunch into his novel to bring in more ideas for his narrative, which include devastation, loss, hope, and survival. Those themes in the author’s book also give the story more of an exciting read to his more mature and thoughtful audiences.
While reading The Road, the readers will find that the syntax differs from a cliché survival story. This 286 page book does not contain any quotation marks for dialogue, any capitalized letters for the proper nouns, semicolons to separate clauses, or longer sentences. Now, that does not make the novel non-readable, it makes the story more of an interesting and entertaining read. Without these elements, McCarthy wouldn’t have created that post-apocalyptic and suspenseful feeling needed for a survival story.
Whenever I finish a memorable novel, I tend to stay attached to some of the characters for a long while, which is very rare. But with The Road, I was not ready to let the characters go after reading the story, even after reading the novel a second time! Both The Man and The Boy have characters developments that I rarely find in novels. In the beginning of the novel, The Boy’s personality can be compared to a cowardly dog, but after going through certain life-changing situations, he develops into a brave and more mature character. As for The Man, his tough character seems to stay the same until around the end of the story where he becomes a more caring and protective father.
After reading this novel a second time, I decided to rate The Road a five out of five stars, and for me, rating a book with that high of a score is very rare. I tend to score novels with lower ratings because of the lack of story development, progression of plot, and most of all, character developments, but this novel does not lack these three must-haves for a story. If one likes stories from the horror and survival genre, then he or she will enjoy The Road. Also, if one wants a challenging read, then he or she will definitely be entertained with this novel as well.