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125 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stark, terrible, powerful
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...
Published on 13 Aug. 2007 by R. B. Moore

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5 of 5 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 22 months ago by Rachel


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125 of 134 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Depressing, 19 Aug. 2013
This review is from: The Road (Kindle Edition)
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 son relationship didn't seem to work and was quite harsh in places. They didn't reach the fabled sanctuary. I really didn't like it much as a story. To boring and overly repetitive which I know goes against most peoples points of view.
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193 of 211 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
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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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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally shattering, 24 Jun. 2007
By 
D. Payne "coflowdave" (Teesside) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Road (Paperback)
The father-son partnership in this novel will be remembered as one of the greatest relationships in literature for a long time. It's based largely on dependency and trust but most of all love. I can't recall the words "I love you" even being spoken in the book. They don't need to be. It's implicit. The writing (I'm tempted to say prose) is beautifully poetic. It's stark and minimalist, seeming to say so much more than it actually does, largely because your imagination is fully on board from the first few pages. One of the most impressive aspects of the book is how realistic it is. The characters really seem to act and react as you can imagine you would in the same situations. The backstory is hardly explained at all and this is how it should be. Nothing matters but the here and now in the book. It's clear there's no real hope for future happiness and the struggle for day to day survival leaves little time for any nostalgia for bygone days. The climax to the book manages to be completely devastating and yet life-affirming at the same time. You'll feel like immediately hugging a loved one upon closing the book, once you've wiped the tears away, and the lump in your throat will stay with you for days. It's enough to make you see the world differently and there's no higher praise I can give it than that.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, 18 Feb. 2008
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This review is from: The Road (Paperback)
I don't think I've ever been effected by book as much as The Road. It's a shattering, haunting experience containing numerous passages that will grip you like a vice. The eery sense of doom that pervades the book never let's up so you're constantly fearful of what the next page might hold.

It's so unrelentingly dark that it may not be everyone's cup of tea but it's a taught, minimal read that won't cost you too much time to get through. Go for it; it's worth the hype.
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224 of 250 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thousand Shades of Grey, 20 Feb. 2007
By 
Eugene Onegin (Lincoln England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Road (Hardcover)
If you like your fiction to have an equitable balance of light and shade, peopled by a galaxy of interesting characters and interspersed with humour and social interaction, then The Road is certainly not for you. However, to cast this book aside would be to miss one of the most extraordinary feats of imaginative world painting in modern literature. McCarthy's subject is as bleak as it is possible to imagine: a post apocalyptic planet Earth in perpetual nuclear winter where the landscape is dead or dying covered in a ubiquitous black ash slowly choking and silencing every living thing. It is a world without sun, animals, and plants where a few humans scavenge to survive abandoning all compassion and morality to do so. Amidst this nightmare a father and his son are found trekking across the wasteland of the United States heading for the coast hoping to find something in a world where hope has ceased to exist. It is their story which holds our attention: amidst the endless desolation and as they battle to survive, McCarthy explores the doubts, suspicions, loyalties and trade offs which typify any filial bond with enormous sensitivity and perception. Yet this pair must face questions unlikely to have been faced by many in any era: what is the point of life when the world as we know it is just a disappearing memory in the mind of a father whose son knows only a world of emptiness? Why try to survive when there is no chance of life being sustained over the long term? Ultimately they find purpose in their own inter-dependence wherein they learn to find all meaning and incentive. This subject is not a new one of course, but what makes The Road so compelling is the author's ability to create this grey, desolate world with such sustained authority and conviction: never once does the curtain of illusion fall, not for a second is the spell broken: we walk the endless highways of nothingness, we ponder where the next can of food might be found, we share the fear that round the next corner might be a marauding armed gang ready to kill for a bottle of water. Beginning from a canvas painted with almost photographic realism, the writer affords his subject an almost allegorical form in order to ponder the philosophical issues raised by the annihilation of the earth and the consideration of what it means to live without expectation of a future. Written in shorn down, skeletal prose with not a single redundant phrase, McCarthy has created an unforgettable and profoundly moving meditation on what it is to be human in a world almost beyond the comprehension of mankind. A stunning achievement.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing read!, 17 Nov. 2009
By 
M. Nordal (Oslo, Norway) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Road (Paperback)
I have read a few Cormac McCarthy books, and found them all good, but slightly heavy going. However, The Road is simply one of the best books I have ever read, if not the best. The setting is bleak, to put it mildly, and I suspect many readers do not manage to see beyond this bleakness. But the story is beautiful, warm and optimistic, despite it all. You grow an affection for the father and son, and throughout the read, all you do is wish them well.
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10 of 11 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 20 Dec. 2009
This review is from: The Road (Paperback)
Possibly the most terrifying story I've read and the world leaders at Copenhagen '09 should all have been made to read it and then discuss it in depth before drafting up the Accords. Perhaps that would've secured a better result for humankind. Anyways. All the one star reviews I've read seem to have missed the point. We have two characters, father and son, who are walking across a post-apocalyptic America trying to keep themselves going while staring in the face of raw bleakness. What I thought was a particularly good idea was setting the story a few years *after* the catastrophe. By this point most of the resources have been eaten up and even finding a pillowcase is a big deal.

The father/ son relationship, for me, was highly believable and deeply moving. And McCarthy writes the way he writes because he hates punctuation. It's not amateurish; it's his style. At first it is a bit difficult to find the voice (think of the way Kafka writes but without the commas), however if you can adapt then you'll be swept away.

I read this in twenty four hours and it's up there in my top five for sheezy. Possibly third place after McGrath's Spider and Orwell's 1984.

So probably more a defence of McCarthy than a review, but there yer go. I just found those one star reviews a little annoying.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The kind of book that makes you wonder why anyone but McCarthy bothers trying to write at all!, 16 Jan. 2008
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This review is from: The Road (Paperback)
This is a spellbindingly wonderful read. I have really struggled to understand how someone can use words so sparingly to create a book so rich in atmosphere. I was completely drawn into the post-apocalyptic world described in the novel and my thoughts and dreams were vivid and haunted for days and nights after I finished the book.

There's not a lot to say about the plot - it's simply about a father and son walking along a road in a world that has suffered some catastropic event. I was trying to describe the book to my husband and he said 'oh so it's a story about the adventures they encounter on the way then?' and I couldn't really answer because that makes it sound trite and boring and it's anything but that. In a way I feel it SHOULD be boring, given the subject matter, but it's not. It's not an account of 'adventures' and it's not even full of philosophical insight. It does make you think about the meaning of life though and to ponder what kind of person you might be in a world with few other humans and no food - would you have a spiritual side, would you maintain your principles, would you find goodness within yourself or would you become less humane, less human?

It's a wonderful book and it deserves to be read ... but watch out for those dreams!
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The Road
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
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