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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Last Night on Earth
A nameless father and son travel through a post-apocalyptic America, trying to reach warmer climates in the south. A disaster has fallen upon the human race and what we witness are the final days of man before the lights go out. All animals and plants have died; the sun doesn't shine anymore thanks to grey ash covering the sky and raining on the ground; and the few people...
Published on 9 May 2008 by Oliver Redfern

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Depressing
While a depressing story doesn't usually bother me within a book, I like a story to go somewhere and do something. The Road just repeated itself over and over - walk along the road, meet some people, hide from people and then set up a camp somewhere. The reason for the burning of America was never really mentioned, and nothing seemed to be alluded to. The father and...
Published 16 months ago by Rachel


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Last Night on Earth, 9 May 2008
This review is from: The Road (Paperback)
A nameless father and son travel through a post-apocalyptic America, trying to reach warmer climates in the south. A disaster has fallen upon the human race and what we witness are the final days of man before the lights go out. All animals and plants have died; the sun doesn't shine anymore thanks to grey ash covering the sky and raining on the ground; and the few people still alive have reverted to the kind of barbarism that not even Stephen King dares explore in his novels.

Although this was a short, poetic page-turner, I had trouble reading it. I had to choose times of the day when I could tackle the book (NEVER at night, before bedtime); and many times I put down the book thanks to heart palpitations. However, I'll say that there is a glimmer of hope amidst all the desolation and horror, and that's what readers must cling to as they reach the end of this brilliant novel.

Unsurprisingly, a film version is already in the pipes; with "No Country for Old Men" winning the Oscars' last night, it now seems only a matter of time before most of McCarthy's books are given the celluloid treatment.

Oh, and I've said this once (and I'll say it again): Cormac McCarthy will be the next American to win the Nobel for Literature.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'the absolute truth of the world', 16 Jan 2008
This review is from: The Road (Paperback)
On the stark cover of this book there is a banner announcing it as the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The first review on the back declares it's good enough to win him the Nobel Prize. The inside covers and first three pages are covered with stunning reviews from around the world. Surely after all that praise a book can only be a disappointment.

The event that has devastated the world is never made explicit beyond 'a long shear of light and then a series of low concussions' but what it has left behind is a man and his son journeying south through a ruined landscape and struggling to survive. The symbiosis of their relationship is clear from the start, this isn't simply a man looking after his son, 'the boy was all that stood between him and death'. The boy's belief in the world is the thing which keeps them both going, which is why when he says he doesn't care at one point his father replies 'don't say that, you musnt say that'. After he has a particularly bad dream his father tells him; 'When your dreams are of some world that never was or of some world that never will be and you are happy again then you will have given up. Do you understand? And you cant give up. I wont let you'. Much later when the man says 'You're not the one who has to worry about everything' the boy replies simply 'Yes I am...I am the one'. Their laconic exchanges punctuate the novel, each of the boy's questions an attempt to construct a new moral structure in this dangerous environment. He needs to know that they're still the 'good guys' and as his father informs him 'They keep trying. They dont give up'.

The prose is as stripped back as the landscape itself; no speech marks, no apostrophes in words like 'dont' and 'musnt' and an almost poetic economy of language ('By day the banished sun circles the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp'). Adam Mars-Jones in his review in The Guardian has already pointed out the influence of Beckett and there are many similarities, this is a writer writing with absloute conviction about what it means to be human. It is a bleak vision at times.

'He walked out in the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.'

Sometimes there is a tinge of light breaking through.

'There were times when he sat watching the boy sleep that he would begin to sob uncontrollably but it wasnt about death. He wasnt sure what it was about but he thought it was about beauty or about goodness. Things that he'd no longer any way to think about at all.'

But there are also surprising moments that lift you up. The boy's simple enjoyment of a salvaged can of Coke is incredibly effective, I was gasping for one afterwards. His delivery of grace when they enjoy a relative feast at table is filled with hope in a world which seems to have been forsaken by God.

This is not a book for the faint-hearted, it is filled with everything that we're made of; episodes of brutality and violence, pure animal survival, heads raised to the sky filled with questions and moments of redemption which bring a tear to the eye. I was utterly involved from start to finish and I urge you to read this book now. It really is as good as they say.

'When we're all gone at last then there'll be nobody here but death and his days will be numbered too. He'll be out in the road there with nothing to do and nobody to do it to.'
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119 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stark, terrible, powerful, 13 Aug 2007
By 
R. B. Moore "rmoore322" (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Road (Paperback)
Don't start with any illusions of this book - it isn't a story. There isn't a beginning and a middle and a neat end. The plot does not develop in any significant way. What you get is a ride of pure emotion, that is of an intensity that I've not really seen matched anywhere else. This isn't a tale about the end of the world. This is what it looks like at the end of the world, what it sounds and smells like, and more importantly what it feels like when you are man and boy facing death and the extinction of the species.

Cormac uses words sparingly, and doesn't bother with a lot of punctuation or structure. It's almost modern narrative poetry, as per Bukowski et al. This makes it a more challenging read, but he drags you in, relentlessly. It is very bleak, it is very difficult, but he makes it work. I'm not going to give examples because it's worth finding out for yourself.

I read this almost entirely at night, in a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere in Devon, with everyone else asleep. And every night I went to bed drained by the experience of another chapter or so. If a book can move you to this degree, then what else can it be than a five stars?
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192 of 208 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a superb book, 14 Nov 2006
By 
Mike J. Wheeler (Kingswinford, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Road (Hardcover)
I picked this up after reading a glowing review in the press. I'm completely new to Cormac McCarthy having never read any of his other works. I have to say this is a superb book.

The book is set in a post-apocalyptic future. Though it's never stated what exactly happened, the subtext suggests a nuclear winter following a war. The earth is burnt, all vegetation is dead and it rains and snows ash. The plot follows the journey of a man and his son towards the south in order to find somewhere they can do more than just survive. But as all food has now been plundered - this being several years since the disaster - they are always on the edge of starvation. They must travel without being seen, as most of humanity that is left has long since resorted to cannibalism to survive.

What this is really about though is the extraordinary relationship between man and boy. The lengths that the man will go to protect his son and see him through the other end. It is a novel that for all its darkness is full of love. And wow is this dark. Many authors have written about the end of the world/survival but I don't think I've read anything quite this bleak. The scenery is utterly symapathetic to the couple's plight. It is filled with an overpowering poignancy for things lost - birds, cows, blue seas.

This is a very sad but at the same time uplifting book. The language used is simple and the conversational parts between man and boy are deliberately kept short. A wonderful book that I couldn't put down until I'd finished.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I will be on The Road for a long time, 11 Feb 2008
By 
John Bogie (Airdrie, Lanarkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Road (Paperback)
I have just finished this book today and haven't been able to think of anything else since. Only my second Cormac McCarthy book but I will definitely be reading more. Cannot recommend this book highly enough, but would urge caution as its impact is extremely profound. I agree with a fellow reviewer and say that being a parent heightens the feeling of hopelessness and the inability of 'The man' to do more for his son. Written in a stark, bare style it does not involve itself in deep plot or character development - it focusses on the here and now of this Father and Son and their hopeless quest for a better existence. Written in this way again deepens its impact.
In all my lifetime of reading, there have been only a few books that have made me weep........this more than any.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sparse language to match the scenario, 1 Jan 2007
By 
W. Chrispin "Bill C" (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Road (Hardcover)
This latest novel by Cormac McCarthy is very different from previous offerings; set in a post-apocalypse world where humans are faced with scavenging to survive, we also glimpse those who have abandoned all contrivances of humanity to survive by cannibalism and worse. The story is a simple one of father and son heading south to find, they hope, a warmer climate whilst trying to live by a code that doesn't see them slip into the abyss that others have succumbed to. They occasionally meet 'the bad guys' and the vision McCarthy creates is frightening and real. It is the possibility that these inhuman humans are just around every corner that lends the book an almost unbearable tension as we more and more want the 'good guys, those carrying the fire' (of humanity) to prevail. This is an excellent read, very thought-provoking and I give only 4 stars simply because it is probably not McCarthy's greatest work but a good one nevertheless.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all time favourite books, 7 Jun 2012
By 
John Milton (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Road (Paperback)
The Road is a Pulitzer Prizewinning work of fiction by American writer Cormac McCarthy which follows a father and his young son in a post-apocalyptic America, simply trying to survive as best as they can.

The Road sees this father and son team struggling through a grim, scorched earth that once was America, in the hope that they will find more "good guys" and a more forgiving abode since they realise they cannot possibly survive another winter where they are. Carrying their belongings on their backs and in a shopping trolley, scavenging what they can along the way, this vulnerable duo encounter loners, cannibals and other desperate individuals on their travels.

Like much of McCarthy's work, the tone of the novel is bleak and very dark. Unsurprisingly in a novel set in a post-apocalyptic future, the landscape is dark, barren and desolate. The father and son endure a daily struggle to stay warm, find food and seek shelter from the rain, snow and storms. Any city settings or dwellings encountered are beleaguered at best but more often that not, America is simply destroyed and in ruins in this vision of the future.

This book covers a wide range of themes concerning human nature, both positive and negative. I have to apologise but I can find no better way of doing this than by quoting what primatologist Franz de Waal says regarding human nature: "Our capacity for cooperation, teamwork, love, friendship, empathy, kindness, forbearance, forgiveness, compromise and reconciliation is unparalleled, because our happiness and survival depend on the strength of our social groups (especially our families) and on our commitment to them. But we also have an unparalleled capacity for competition, factionalism, hostility, sadism, cruelty, intransigence and domination. Which side of our nature prevails depends on historical circumstances."

de Waal's statement is absolutely exemplified within The Road. The reader is taken from a father's unconditional love for his son to the utter depravity others are willing to stoop to, simply in order to survive.

British environmental campaigner George Monbiot wrote in his own review of The Road that "... I read what I believe is the most important environmental book ever written. It is not Silent Spring, Small Is Beautiful or even Walden. It contains no graphs, no tables, no facts, figures, warnings, predictions or even arguments. Nor does it carry a single dreary sentence, which, sadly, distinguishes it from most environmental literature. It is a novel, first published a year ago, and it will change the way you see the world."

Is it horror? I would submit to you that yes, it most definitely is a horror. Some are of the opinion that it more appropriately falls within the Sci-Fi category but celebrated author Michael Chabon concurs with me and stated when discussing the novel's genre, "...ultimately it is as a lyrical epic of horror that The Road is best understood." As stated earlier, the novel is a truly bleak, haunting tale and at times, is emotionally harrowing. The Road definitely ought to be on your `To Read' list and confirming this in June 2008, Entertainment Weekly named The Road the best book, fiction or non-fiction, of the past 25 years.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book - a terrifying road trip, 24 Nov 2010
By 
Bacchus (Greater London - Surrey) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Road (Paperback)
What can I add to all the other reviews this book has received?

To start with my initial misgivings. I first heard about this book through a book group just after it had been published. As it was still only in hardback, No Country for Old Men by the same writer was chosen instead. I did not enjoy this book, finding the written style lacking in subtlety (or punctuation!)and failing to find any interest in the characters or the story.

Members of the group told me about the impact The Road had on them, how they were moved by the close of the book. I also read an essay by the American academic Harold Bloom (What to read and why) about Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. In this article, Bloom urges readers to persevere with the work of Cormac McCarthy, stating that the writer's homespun pared down written style is an integral part of his art.

I am very glad that I have read The Road. It paints a terrifying vision of a post Nuclear winter in which edible food is almost impossible to find and all other people are potential cannibals to be avoided. Other readers have cried when they got to the end of the book. Despite the tragic dimension of the book it ends with a hope of final redemption.

There have been other books which look to a Dystopian future, but this one has heart.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another contender for top ten!, 6 Sep 2007
This review is from: The Road (Paperback)
The story is simple enough and there isn't much more to it than what other reviewers have written. But the author's descriptive abilities are astounding. This is by far and away the most depressing - at times scary - books I have ever read. But don't let that put you off. The fact that this book has the power to do that is what makes it a true great.

After finishing the book I made a solemn oath: if we ever survive a world-wide apocalyptic event... I will kill myself very quickly indeed!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is it too bleak?, 14 Mar 2007
By 
pseudopanax (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Road (Hardcover)
If you're one of those readers who threw Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure out the window because of it bleak view of humanity, then you would be advised to avoid McCarthy's The Road. It is the most depressing and despairing book I have ever read. As previous reviewers have noted, the stripped down prose is almost poetic in its austerity and fitting for the tale of horror that it tells. The man and boy are not given names, the country doesn't have a name; all has been obliterated in the devastation wrought on the world from some unknown disaster. The idea of survivors searching for salvation or mere hope in a post-apocalyptic world is not new; it has been explored in detail by films and science fiction novels in the 60s and 70s. But now with The Road and Jim Crace's The Pesthouse, there seems to be a revival of this trope perhaps as a result of the US's militarism, terrorism, climate change, etc. My only problem with this novel is that its bleakness is so extreme, grinding the characters and the reader down incessantly, that I often thought it was a pointless exercise in literary nihilism. Compared to the subtlety of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Down and its equally bleak view of humanity, The Road is only one note played over and over, and however beautifully that one note is played by such an accomplished artist, sometimes you just want to cover your ears.
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The Road
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Paperback - 14 Dec 2009)
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