Wil Wheaton's Reviews > The Road

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
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Jun 10, 2009

I really wanted to like this book, because just about everyone I know who read it loved it and raves about it. That it's post-apocalyptic fiction is a plus, because that's one of my favorite genres of all time.

I gave up after about 30 pages, though, because I just couldn't stand the way it was written. This isn't a judgment against the author or anyone who enjoyed the book, but for me, reading it was like watching a movie with an incredible plot that's shot entirely out of focus, or lit so poorly, I had to struggle to see the actors and enjoy the story.

I may give it another try again at some point in the future, but I'm too old and have too little time for reading to invest it in books that make me work really hard to digest them.
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05/04 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-24)

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Chompa I felt the same way at first. McCarthy's writing seemed very poor, but after I adjusted to it, I realized his writing very much lent itself to the mood. By the time I was halfway thru the book the writing was compelling & perfectly clear.

McCarthy's writing is different at all times and I have to be in the right mood to start one of his books. If I'm in the right mood and adjust (like diving into cold water really) I end up enjoying it greatly.

message 23: by Dawn Michelle (new)

Dawn Michelle I totally agree with you Will. I didn't even make it to 30 pages. And while I too, might pick it up again in the (far) future, this is one that will have to sit and wait while I read others that interest me more.

message 22: by Rose (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rose Sometimes its about moods. Perhaps you are not feeling this one right now. I really liked the simple way such a tragedy was allowed to unfold. It's not a very big book, but very powerful. I would suggest perhaps you try this one again at a later time.

Laurie Wil & Dawn- don't bother picking it back up. Really. The writing style may match the stark reality of the book, but it only gets more annoying the more you read. :)

message 20: by Rose (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rose Perhaps you should finish the book and then decide for yourselves. It's all about setting the tone which I think it does beautifully in it's simplicity. It is a look at the worst of and the best of the human race. If you can get past just the writing of it and take from it the message, you might get more out of it. I know I appreciated my beautiful, colorful world surrounding me and all the living beathing elements of life after I read it.

Laurie Rose wrote: "Perhaps you should finish the book and then decide for yourselves. It's all about setting the tone which I think it does beautifully in it's simplicity. It is a look at the worst of and the best ..."

We can definitely agree on appreciating life and enjoying some sunshine and breathing fresh air a little more than we did before, even if we don't share the same opinion of the book. :)

Leslie Dawn Homer I just finished it and it was just ...meh nothing great not horrid just ...meh

[Name Redacted] A good writer can make the mundane seem remarkable, but McCarthy is too bare to be beautiful, and too pointless to be poignant.

I found the above in another review. Perfectly sums up the way this book disappointed me.


Diane The generic "he" made it hard to determine which "he" McCarthy meant - the father, the boy, the guy who comes upon them with a gun. I don't usually do post-apocalyptic fiction, so for me to have enjoyed it (well, "enjoyed" might be too strong a word; perhaps "appreciated" is more appropriate).

message 15: by Kyle (new) - rated it 1 star

Kyle I had basically the same reaction. Though, I stubbornly and masochistically read through the whole book. It never improves.

message 14: by Jonathan (new)

Jonathan Peto Quotes on the book I'm reading now compare it thematically to The Road, but The Passage by Justin Cronin is very readable, I think. I've never been into post-apocalyptic fiction, but I'm enjoying it.

message 13: by Peggy (new) - rated it 1 star

Peggy I agree. I had put it down about half way through and didn't touch it for months. But since I purchased it, I forced myself to finish. I didn't feel anything for the characters and I, too, hated the way it was written. The lack of structure made it very difficult to digest.

message 12: by Rhys (new) - added it

Rhys Wow, I'm SO glad I'm not the only one who felt this way! This was actually my second attempt to read the book.
My problem is that I tend to read on my subway commute and with all the usual distractions, interpreting his overly descriptive style exhausted and frustrated me. So I gave up.
I think I'll just watch the movie.

message 11: by Jami (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jami try listening to it on cd. It adds a different dimension...

Andrew Anderson I started it when the film first came out, and gave up, deeming the writing style to be painful on my eyes and brain. Re-read it a few years later and absolutely loved it. One of my favourite books, maybe it just wasn't my time first-time around...

Henry Bemis As a fan of both the apocalyptic genre and Stephen King you might want to read There's Blood on the Moon Tonight by Bryn Roar.

Dave Allen I finished it, but it wasn't easy. It was a good ending, but the reader shouldn't have to work so hard for it.

John Harper Lifes to short to work hard for fiction. Its not your cup of tea. move on. That's my advice. Or try the movie. takes a lot less time :)

Bailey Crawly I honestly couldn't agree with you more, Wil, although I foolishly forced myself to finish, believing it would get better. Spoiler alert: it really didn't.

message 5: by Sara (new)

Sara I haven't read this yet - was thinking I should because smart people like it. Your review reminded me of a similar type of novel "The Zero", by Jess Walter (a writer I very much admire) which I couldn't read for reasons similar to those you mentioned. My feeling when reading that book was that there was an ongoing, annoying, ringing-in-the-ears noise overwhelming everything else, but I prefer your movie analogy much more. Explains the feeling perfectly. Good review. I won't feel at all guilty for not reading the book, but fully appreciate that it is probably a masterpiece.

Tara Gulyassy I so agree! I listened to this audio and was just so annoyed by the way it was written.

Helene I feel the same but I suffered through it. For me it was like The Walking Dead...minus the zombies and a plot line.

Kristi I thought The Road was an amazing novel that I still think about years after having read it. However your comment about feeling it was like watching a movie that was out of focus is spot on, I did crave to know more about what was happening and pull the 'camera' back a bit to see more than the Boy's view. In saying that, it is also what I admired about the book and kept me hooked, I wouldn't like every novel I read to be written this way, generally I need a bigger perspective but in the single instance of The Road, the writing format worked for me.

Richard Buro Wil, try to look at it not as a well lit set, but rather more like the way the Revenant was shot -- real lighting nothing added. That;s what McCarthy wanted you to see in the book, monochromatic gray! Once you have that pat, then try it again. Also expect few if any apostrophes in the book in total. There are an occasional one or two thrown in just for giggles and grins. It is truly classic dystopian science fiction.

Richard Buro
Temple, TX

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