Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Book Review:: The Road

Man.  This one was tough.  Way too real.  I'm left with a stunned, broken heart after finishing up the last page.  I've never read a book in which I thought, "the only happy ending is, 'then everyone died, the end.'"

That said, it was another book I could not stop reading.  One element that led to its can't-put-it-down status is the unique format with which it was written.  No chapters.  Just one long string of brief paragraphs constructed of beautifully poetic blunt sentences.  No frivolous use of quotation marks, just tit-for-tat conversations.  The entire novel is written in third person, and the two main characters are simply referred to as "the man" and "the boy."  The geographic locations are not specified either, which lends further to the eerie feeling of "this could be anyone, including you." This is not to say that this was not a graphically descriptive was, and heartbreakingly so.

From cover to cover, you're following the agonizing journey of a man and his small son as they trek across a post-apocalyptic America in hopes of reaching the coast before winter hits.  The boy was born the night after the world as we know it was decimated; his mother ended her own suffering a couple of years later.  Allusions to nuclear holocaust are made, and nothing save a handful of scavenging humans are left.  No plant life.  No animal life.  No blue skies.  Nothing but toxic air and the ashes of a destroyed planet.  The pair carefully travel down state highways on their way to the coast, where they hope to find warmth and life, and possibly more "good guys."  Because they're the only good guys they know for sure exist.  On their path, they're continually on guard, making sure to stay hidden as best they can from the cannibalistic marauders that are all that is left of humanity.

I've got to be honest.  This book was utterly depressing.  A few times, my heart literally wrenched in my chest.  The contrast between goodness and horror was shocking.  The beautiful portrait of a parent's love and protection was endearing.  The sadness of watching a young, hopeful spirit disintegrate was not.  Imagining myself in this predicament was even worse.

Do I recommend you read this book?  Yes.  If for no other reason than to undo the glamorization of a post-apocalyptic world that the current zombie trend has created.  It ain't pretty.  But maybe what we all need is a call to reality, and this book definitely does that.   

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