Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Road

The world as we know it has ended. Bustling metropolises are barren, decaying ghost towns. Ash covers everything, even blotting out the sun; plants, trees, and animals are all dead or dying. A nameless man and his son traverse the wasteland, looking for food, shelter, and trying to survive. Bands of cannibals also travel looking for hapless victims. This is only one of the many dangers facing the father and son, including other violent people, starvation, injury, infection, and freezing to death. Their bond stays strong throughout every obstacle they face, but where can they go? Will they survive?

The Road is a very bleak, post-apocalyptic story with no defined reason for the current climate. Nature is pretty much dead and every resource we have now is simply gone. The world is covered in ash so thick, it blocks out the sun. My imagination runs wild with what horrible global warming or greenhouse effect made this happen, but it is surely humanity's fault. The reason is irrelevant to the characters because they have to survive it. There's no hope of fixing it or avoiding it; they must simply endure. The father and son go through extreme ups and downs. They come very close to starving, freezing, or being attacked by cannibals, but they also find a huge cache of canned foods and play on the beach. The positives may not be as many as the negatives, but they hold on to those moments. These people aren't perfect and they do make mistakes, especially when extremely hungry or emotional. Overall, they make a lot of smart decisions and it's clear why they've survived so long. Even though the conversation is often stilted, it's clear that they love each other and the father would do absolutely anything for his son. They make an effort to do good in the world when they can and separate themselves from the opportunists, murderers, and cannibals.

Although I loved the story and the simple writing, I did have a few problems with the book. The conversations are so stilted and awkward. The boy's voice and the man's voice blend together and aren't distinct. The dialog often has no indication of who is talking or any sort of quotation mark, so making the two voices different would have made reading much easier. My other problem is the pacing of the last third of the book. Up until then, I couldn't put it down. Their adventures had me on the edge of my seat, but then the last third became unfocused and lost momentum. My interest waned and I just wanted to get through the rest.

The Road is an addicting and fast read. The simplistic but descriptive language is very effective and makes the reading tempo faster. I did enjoy the book, but I felt the film version was a bit better. The dialog is less stilted; the backstory of the family is explored more; and the problem with the pacing is fixed.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

1 comment:

Stewart Sternberg (half of L.P. Styles) said...

I am always nervous when "literary authors" attack genre. It sometimes feels like slumming or that they are covering ground already heavily trodden.