This week’s book recommendation is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I first heard of this book during my undergraduate studies and didn’t read it until the year after I’d finished my degree. Probably the most gruesome part of the book was “spoiled” for me, but it did not ruin the book in any way. Perhaps I was saved from the traumatic discovery. To put that into context, this book centers around a father and his son as they trudge across a post-apocalyptic landscape. The father’s goal is simply to keep his son alive. As they are traveling, other humans are basically the enemy, and the two come across some disturbing things.
Though it seems that there is an overabundance of post-apocalyptic shows and movies nowadays, this book came out (still fairly recently) in 2006 and the movie adaptation came out in 2009 (which I still haven’t seen yet). There are no zombies or plagues or supernatural or science fiction elements that turned the world to ruin in this book. There is no detail really as to why, but it could be assumed it is a nuclear fallout. The world they wander is dark. The skies are always overcast and bleak. Everything is coated in ash and cold. They survive by traveling in search of food and water. Outside of the people they encounter, the main story centers on their relationship with many references to the duty of a parent.
There was much criticism about this book in relation to the lack of women characters or treatment of them, especially the mother of the son since there isn’t much explanation as to what happens to her. I can understand that criticism but do not necessarily agree with it. The story would be drastically different if the mother was present. The narrative would have been split and the focus lost or have a different dynamic altogether. I think most people would agree the book is great the way it is (despite the subject matter). I do wonder though if the disappearance of the mother could have been handled better. I simply assumed she had died, but it is definitely open to interpretation.
This book is a little bleak, but it is well-written and engaging even when it seems like not much is happening. If you like post-apocalyptic and/or want a new/original take on the subject, then give this book a shot. I think this book delves into a semi-realistic view if our world should ever face the destruction by the bombs we have created (if anyone were to survive). The subject matter is dark, but it’s a book worth reading as it can make you think about what is really important in life. It can let you escape the trivial worries of your day-to-day and help you focus your thoughts on what really matters. That is where I think this book succeeds.