Written by American author Cormac McCarthy, The Road is a post-apocalyptic book about a man and is his son travelling through the grey, destroyed, barren wasteland of the United States. The event that destroyed the Earth is never stated, and the man and his son are both unnamed.
Several years after the unknown disaster, the man and his son journey through post-apocalyptic America, scavenging for food, clothes, and ultimately, to the south to the sea. McCarthy shows his writing skills by using very good descriptive imagery to capture the feeling and emotion of the world they live in.
"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."
The man and the boy encounter other survivors, though most of them are cannibals. They refer to the cannibals as the bad guys and themselves as the good guys.
“We wouldn't ever eat anybody, would we?
No. Of course not.
Even if we were starving?
We're starving now.
You said we weren't.
I said we weren't dying. I didnt say we weren't starving.
But we wouldn't.
No. We wouldn't.
No matter what.
No. No matter what.
Because we're the good guys.
And we're carrying the fire.
And we're carrying the fire. Yes.
(apostrophes added for the sake of editing)
"Carrying the fire" is a phrase brought up several times in the book, which means in this sense carrying the fire inside of you, like your soul. It means keeping the morality and humanity. It also means hope, as in keep going and never giving up. Carrying the fire can be interpreting in a few different ways, but it is generally one of the main themes in the book about hope and humanity.
Throughout the book, the man occasionally coughs up blood, foreshadowing his death. When they finally get to the sea, it is his final stop. After a few days, the man dies, with the boy lying next to him for another few days not knowing what to do or where to go. On the beach, the boy sees a man approaching him. It turns out that the man, along with a woman and two children, had been following them, probably knowing that the man was sick. The boy asks the man if he is carrying the fire and if he is one of the good guys. The man convinces the boy he is a good guy, and they take him with them under their protection.
The book The Road is a very emotionally and mentally heavy book, touching on cannibalism, loss of humanity, death, and other depressing subjects. Though the book is almost all very upsetting and uneasy, it has an unusual happy ending for such a subject matter.
McCarthy's writing is heavy with imagery and really helps understand the emotion and environment he was going for. It is very attaching and engages you to keep reading. The book itself is not very long, but still very good.
A note about McCarthy's writing style in the book: he does not use quotation marks or punctuation so it is a bit of getting used to while reading.
I would definitely recommend this book; it is very emotional and meaningful. Though, it is very depressing.
The Road has also be made into a movie, by the same name, in 2009 directed by John Hillcoat and starring Viggo Mortensen and Kodi-Smit McPhee. I would also recommend the movie, as it stays very close to the book and it also captures the same feeling as McCarthy in the novel.