The Road- Review

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (read July 18th, 2015)

This is another book I read because of a recommendation from a very close friend. She absolutely adored this book. She had finished it fairly recently, and after staying at her house for a few days, she lent it to me to read.

I, on the contrary, was not as captivated by it. Maybe I expected too much after reading her review (click here to view), or from reading the praise on the back cover. I imagined this book would be enthralling, one I would grip tightly sitting on my bed in the dark. In my mind, a book titled “The Road” implied endless travel and adventures along the way, when in reality, the title is pretty much synonymous with the plot: two people walking on a road.

The father and son travel on the road trying to get to the ocean. Yes, they left it a few times, to look for food or take shelter for a night, only to go back to the road. On and on, they walk and walk and walk on their faithful road. This is another one of those tales about a journey, where the goal is just to get from point A to point B, and other action is supplementary. However, as this tale takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, not much else is happening. I could count on one hand the amount of times the pair encountered another living thing. Perhaps I have a heart made of stone, but I got bored with all the text about how the man and boy were cold and were struggling to eat; I wanted more lively conflicts that characters could really do something about.

I might not have taken these issues so seriously if I had felt connected to the characters. Throughout the book, I felt incredibly distant from the two, and was therefore pretty passive about everything. The book didn’t demand my attention like most novels. Each division of the book, which were only a few paragraphs on average, seemed somewhat unrelated to the previous and sometimes the next, strung together only by time. Especially with the poetic-exclamation paragraphs which contained no actions, dialogue, or characters, the book as a whole seemed very detached and almost read as a book of poetry with a common plot.

“Okay.” That may be the most used word in the book, and is singled out and repeated every time. The man and boy say it back and forth to each other, signaling understanding and the finality of everything. What’s done is done. Okay. Okay. Reading these conversations reminded me of talking to stubborn and frustrating children. Okay. Okay. Everything must be said very simply and plainly. Outside of this dialogue, though, the language suddenly became complex and decorative and figurative and descriptive- often without punctuation to organize the chaos. Okay. The ambiguity and distance of the book summarized in one word. Okay. That’s the word that comes to mind when I try to describe this book. Okay

I believe this book is great for some people, but I am not one of them. Maybe I’m not cut out for these more internal, implicit books. I may not have a “deep enough understanding,” neglecting to appreciate this great story of love, generosity, and family. Eh, next time I want to read a story about love and generosity, I think I’ll pick up the Giving Tree instead.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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