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The Road
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July 2018: Dystopian > [Decathlon] The Road - Cormac McCarthy - 1*

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Elise (ellinou) So, a man and his son (they have no names or ages) are walking across the US (with no apparent objective other than not dying) in which everything has burned down (we never learn why, when or how). And then...

Nothing happens.

I really did not like this book. I did not like the complete lack of context - we don't know why the world is what it is, we're just thrown into a (drab) tale and expected to take everything for granted. I did not like the author's dry style or his lack of respect for typography.

Basically this was the whole book: The man wants to do something. The boy is scared to do the thing. They sit down and talk. They both say Okay way too often. After a while (you could invent a fun drinking game with the number of times he uses that phrase!) the man does the thing that scared the boy. Nothing happens. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I know the book is like super popular and Cormac McCarthy is adored for it, but I just didn't get it, sorry. I felt like the time I spent reading it was completely wasted. I dislike books in which nothing happens, and this was like... the epitome of nothing happening.

At least it was short.


Susie | 4488 comments I’m sorry you didn’t like it more, but appreciate reading your thoughts. Hopefully your next book turns out better for you.


Hebah (quietdissident) | 675 comments I happen to really love the sparseness of the prose and story, but I know this one is a divisive read because I've heard multiple people with the same issues you had with it. I last read it coming down off of an English degree, so I'd be curious to see if I still love it as much as I remember. Hmm.


annapi | 5153 comments Yay! I'm not alone! I didn't like this book either.


message 5: by KateNZ (new) - added it

KateNZ | 2666 comments I’m in the ‘bow down and worship’ camp with this book - I was smitten with it from page 1. But am still grinning after reading your thoughts - one of the most entertaining negative reviews I’ve read! Clever lady :)


Elise (ellinou) Yay annapi o/

Kate - I've seen a few other hilarious one-star reviews, it seems like this book elicits many feelings amongst its readers, haha!


message 7: by Diane (new)

Diane Zwang | 485 comments I haven't read this book yet but I did think your review was entertaining.


Ladyslott | 1880 comments I loved this book, but your review was entertaining


message 9: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 9052 comments I have this on my tbr, despite not liking the only other book I've read by him. A friend convinced me to give it a try, anyway. I do wonder if my reaction will be similar to yours!


Anita Pomerantz | 6732 comments Such a polarizing book, but I am squarely in the LOVE camp. I was so so moved by the father/son relationship . . .and I love how the stark prose evokes the horror of their situation. I don't think it is a book you sit down and read for pleasure though . . .and if that's the main goal, I can see why people don't like it. For me, books can be entertaining, but they can also be vehicles to create empathy and to convey life lessons. Sometimes I think books are like art . . .they make you think and ponder the human condition. This book didn't entertain me, but it did all the rest . . .and for those reasons, I loved it.


message 11: by Amy N. (new)

Amy N. | 256 comments Hebah wrote: "...coming down off of an English degree..."

Hebah, that is the best description of my post-college years I have ever heard.


message 12: by Jeremiah (new) - added it

Jeremiah Cunningham | 717 comments Anita wrote: "Such a polarizing book, but I am squarely in the LOVE camp. I was so so moved by the father/son relationship . . .and I love how the stark prose evokes the horror of their situation. I don't think ..."

This is such a wonderfully written explanation. Very thought provoking Anita.


Anita Pomerantz | 6732 comments Thank you, JW! It is funny For most books I dont care at all if people feel differently than I do about it . . .for some reason, on this one it bothers me a little. Isnt that strange?


message 14: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (ellinou) Anita wrote: "Such a polarizing book, but I am squarely in the LOVE camp. I was so so moved by the father/son relationship . . .and I love how the stark prose evokes the horror of their situation. I don't think ..."

See, for me, a good book is one that does both: entertain and make you think. Because what makes readers think depends on each individual's personality, history, present situation... Something that makes one reader relate to a book might completely not work for another reader, who might find another element of the book to relate to, or not. And it the story itself isn't entertaining on its own, then that reader will be left feeling as I feel towards this book.

You proposed in another topic, Anita, that maybe I didn't relate to the book because I don't have kids, which, okay, fair enough, I can see how having children can make you feel this story on a different level. Thing is, in my opinion, that was its only level. I should have been able to find something else to catch my attention, or at the very least be entertained, but at no moment in the story did I feel there was anything other to hold onto than that father-son (parent-child) relationship I am not privy to.

Throughout the whole book, I couldn't help but compare it to The Girl With All the Gifts by MR Carey. They are similar in that in both cases, we follow a band of human survivors well after the world as we know it has ended. The similarities end there though. Contrary to The Road, TGWAtG explicitly says how, when and why the world ended; the survivors have a clear objective throughout the entire story; and there is always hope. There are many characters, different plotlines to follow, so if one or the other isn't doing anything for you, there's always something else going on.

This is also what absolutely did not work for me in The Road - or in any similar book. The "plot" is linear and the characters few. If you don't like them, suck it up, because there's no escaping.


message 15: by Karin (last edited Jul 15, 2018 03:53PM) (new) - added it

Karin | 7458 comments Ellie wrote: "So, a man and his son (they have no names or ages) are walking across the US (with no apparent objective other than not dying) in which everything has burned down (we never learn why, when or how)...."

I hated this book but gave it 2 stars because he writes so very well.


message 16: by Elise (new) - rated it 1 star

Elise (ellinou) I didn't think he wrote very well at all, so 1 star!


Joy D | 4596 comments Ellie wrote: "Throughout the whole book, I couldn't help but compare it to The Girl With All the Gifts by MR Carey. They are similar in that in both cases, we follow a band of human survivors well after the world as we know it has ended. The similarities end there though. Contrary to The Road, TGWAtG explicitly says how, when and why the world ended; the survivors have a clear objective throughout the entire story; and there is always hope. There are many characters, different plotlines to follow, so if one or the other isn't doing anything for you, there's always something else going on...."

Ellie what a great recommendation for The Girl With All the Gifts. I'll put it on my TBR. Regarding The Road I thought it contained a glimmer of hope in that some people were still trying to be "good guys" in the midst of the devastation.

Anita wrote: "Sometimes I think books are like art . . .they make you think and ponder the human condition"

I love this quote! It's one of the reasons I read so much. IMO, books are pieces of artwork, crafted individually by the author. And of course, like art, people appreciate many different kinds.


Anita Pomerantz | 6732 comments Joy D wrote: "Ellie wrote: "Throughout the whole book, I couldn't help but compare it to The Girl With All the Gifts by MR Carey. They are similar in that in both cases, we follow a band of human survivors well ..."

Thank you, Joy! And you are right - - I do think art is subjective and open to personal taste and interpretation. I tend to like works of art that provoke . . .same with books!


Anita Pomerantz | 6732 comments Hebah wrote: "I happen to really love the sparseness of the prose and story, but I know this one is a divisive read because I've heard multiple people with the same issues you had with it. I last read it coming ..."

I felt as though the spareness of the prose was so appropriate for the theme . . .that's part of what made me feel it was truly literature and not just storytelling.


message 20: by Karin (new) - added it

Karin | 7458 comments Anita wrote: "I felt as though the spareness of the prose was so appropriate for the theme . . .that's part of what made me feel it was truly literature and not just storytelling.."

I agree, and even though I hated the book, I thought that sparse writing was done extremely well and fit the book perfectly.


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