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The Road - Cormac McCarthy

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  • gripping and intense
  • unique style of writing
  • diificult to get into at the begining
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      06.05.2014 12:32
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      • "unique style of writing"
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      • "diificult to get into at the begining"

      A story that must be read by all serious book lovers

      I was given this book by my sister, who insisted I read it, and to be honest if she hadn''t I think I would have never picked it up, and certainly never continued past the first dozen pages. The story is intense and dark, but once you are past those first pages it is absolutely gripping and unput-downable (think i just invented a word).
      The story follows a man and his young son as they journey through a destroyed country a few years after some terrible world destroying catastrophe has occured. It shows how an ordinary father has had to develop extraordinary skills in order to survive and protect his son, against starvation, cold and the rest of the surviving human race, none of whom can be trusted. The boy too is a sad parody of childhood, grown up too fast but still with childish thoughts and an open heart.
      The outline of the story sounds grim, and indeed it is, but the unique style of Cormac McCarthy''s writing draws you in, and wont let you go until you know everything...how they ended up in this situation, where they are going, and what will become of them.
      At no time during the entire book, does the author describe the two main characters, they are not even given names, merely refered to as "the boy and "the man". We never know their ages, how they look, or what their lives were before this terrible tragedy struck. This technique, which I have never encountered before, made the book even more enthralling, allowing the imagination to run riot, and, conversely, encouraging even more emotional investment in the two characters.
      I devoured this book, exeriencing every emotion along with the characters, and was not in the least surprised by the two prestigious awards it received (the Pulitzer Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize). There apparently has been a film adaptation, but I would never watch this as the book inspired my imagination so much that I would not wish to see another persons interpretation of the characters and scenes.

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      23.10.2013 06:48
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      The Road is a depressing book about the truth of humanity.

      First of all, this book is not about actual literal zombies....but metaphoric ones. There is tragedy, cannablism, and death involved in this book, kinda gory: A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food--and each other. This book, in no way, gives you comfort or reassurance!

      The Road is about a Father and a Son trying to survive as the world decays. People have become so desperate that they resort to cannablism. The Father will do anything to protect the Son as they move from place to place, witnessing all kinds of horrors.

      The Road is very good as opposed to other post apocalyptic books. Cormac McCarthy did a very good job using description and poetic writing to make the reader feel a sense of despair and danger. The book was made more ominous because of the anonymous, vague names (the father, the son, the boy, the man). He uses eloquent writing to explain the parently love between a father and a son in tragic circumstances.

      The plot of the Road has its great, climatic moments but it does have a lot of slow parts. Sometimes, I felt like putting the book down. Every once in a while, you come into a blood-rushing, eyeball-bulging scene in the book which will carry you on through the slow parts.

      The thing that really makes you stand up on your toes, the adrenaline rushing in when you read The Road is when you realize that you can apply the post apocalyptic world to real life; that the fate of the world may be just like the world in this book. But don't worry, I'm sure that that fate may still be far away in the future.

      The Road is not really concerned with explaining what caused the cataclysm so just be prepared for it to leave you hanging. Overall, this book is not for the weak-hearted.

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        29.03.2013 21:54
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        The novel is about a father and son who are trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world.

        The novel takes place in a post-apocalyptic world and the reasons for the world being in such a state are never truly revealed although it is highly likely that it was the result of a nuclear war.

        The novel follows a boy and his father (the main 2 protagonists) as they try to survive in this bleak world. There are numerous obstacles which try to stand in their way such as the many antagonists which roam this world and the problem of finding essentials such as food, water and shelter in this ruined world.

        Throughout the novel, the boy remains a protagonist and never stops believing that both he and his father could survive and that the world will be saved. The boy is seen as a Christ like figure by his father from the early stages of the novel and this does not change. The father believes that his son will be the one to save humanity.

        Cormac McCarthy often shows the reader just how young this boy is through the boys thoughts and opinions. In my opinion, this is done because it is easy to forget just how young this boy is because he is amazingly mature for his age.

        There are many shocking scenes in the novel (The discovery of dead people/Cannibalism etc) which test the boys ability to maintain his hope.

        The boys father deeply cares for his son and this is made clear at various points within the novel. It seems that he would do absolutely anything to ensure his sons survival.

        Although the boy doesn't lose hope, his father does. Although it seems that the father is always protecting his son, that is not always the case. If it were not for his son, the father would most likely have completely lost hope and would have turned into an antagonist.

        "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy is a shockingly beautiful novel which really puts the love between a father and son into perspective and is a great read.

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          12.12.2012 18:21
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          Cormac McCarthy's best novel

          The landscape is bleak, it has been blasted apart by a nuclear war, seems like it ended years before, only we are never told this in so many words. Dead bodies are everywhere, thousands strewn around, carcasses that have been caught in the tar as it melted around them trying to escape the end.

          This all happened before the boy was born, he was still in his mother's womb. We are never really sure from his monosyllabic outbursts if he remembers his mother. His Papa is here with him on the desolate road to the coast although within the text we haven't been informed that the man travelling with him and the one he calls Papa, is his father. We assume he is as there is parental affection between man and boy.

          As they trudge on through a wilderness of ash, torn and frightened with only a pistol to defend themselves and the clothes on their back, they keep their thoughts of dying to themselves, although the man knows that the boy is terrified and at times, wonders if killing him would be the best thing to do. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind; this is no life for a boy.

          The sun has died, the wind blows grey snow everywhere and the bitter cold bites through their ragged clothes. Still, they persevere, moving on with their broken down cart of scavenged food from burnt out homes. They are not alone on the road; bands of weirdoes are out, scouting for food and clothing. They are lawless and will do anything to get what they want, to feed their hunger, and even eat human flesh. The man knows that the only way he and the boy can survive is to live like rats among the filth.

          The Road was written by America's Cormack McCarthy, a novelist and playwright from Rhode Island. He has written several books in the Southern Gothic, Western, Post-apocalyptic genres. He's good; I like his work because he is powerful yet at the same time, thrifty with words and pronunciation.

          The Road is a small book with 287 pages. There are some powerful phrases and beautiful poetry, 'Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world,' this describes the dark nights and grey days, darker and greyer than what had gone before. This was the fifth line on the first page, I was hooked.

          I've had this book quite a while and tried to read it once before. Even though I was hooked straight away I felt depressed by the time I was half way through and had to stop reading. I loved the writing but the futility of it all jarred my nerves.

          The second time was this year when I was in the airport in Amsterdam and had a very long wait for my flight. I decided to give it another go and started over again. I liked the fact that there were only two main characters and not a lot going on. The book is very eloquently written and the poetic descriptions of the landscape drove me on to read more. I did at times wonder how he managed to write so beautifully about a landscape so savaged. I would have run out of descriptions by the time I had got to the 20th or 30th page.

          The amazing thing about the book is the coldness about it and the stark descriptions of two people surviving in the most horrendous conditions. We do feel love and affection and it is there between man and boy but it is shown in lots of different ways. It isn't all about hugs, the ruffling up of hair and tender kisses. It is about survival, about trusting each other and about man teaching boy to live in a desecrated jungle where he could be jumped upon and killed while sleeping. It is very clever too how McCarthy delivers the book in a trudging way. It is like every page tells the same desperate thing but in a different way. The images he creates are so illuminated. At times, I felt if I reached out my hand, I could feel the cold wind blowing, the hardness of the stones underneath their feet and the ash in their hair. McCarthy's poetry is so vivid I could even smell the charred ruins of houses and the dampness of books rotting away in soggy bookcases.

          From what I have read about Cormac McCarthy he is a hard man, a recluse who has always put his writing first. He has lived in tough conditions without certain necessities in life like running water and heating and put his family though hard times for the sake of his craft. He is a very private man and doesn't seem to suffer fools. Some of these traits come through in The Road and other books like No Country for Old Men but I think this book is more personal.

          I managed to finish the book the second time around. I wouldn't say it was a laugh a minute but it is a clever piece of work. It is a moving story of a journey, showing how man can be destructive, tenacious and tender.

          If you are in the right mood, The Road is a book not to be put down. The language is intense, haunting, devastating and beautiful. Mr. McCarthy is a powerful storyteller and deserves 5 stars for this tale of survival.

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            03.05.2012 02:04

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            Brilliant book, certainly the most outstanding piece of literature I have read from the 21st century

            This book is the first book in a long time that made me cry. It is a brutal, touching, desolate, moving story about the relationship between a father and son who are battling to survive on the edge of oblivion. Walking the road in a post-apocalyptic world they face immeasurable horrors and witness the tragedy and sadness of a planet bereft of hope, where survivors of the unknown disaster resort to savagery and cannibalism to survive. The only ray of light in this dank and dark world is the pure and innocent relationship between a nameless boy and his father, who's anonymity symbolises the universality of the parent/child bond. As the pair make their way towards the coast, where they hope things will be better, their circumstances become more and more dire and they have to resort to drastic action to survive.

            The book is beautifully written, every sentence is superbly constructed and it is simply a joy to read. An ultimately tragic, brutal, but sometimes uplifting and funny account of a parent/child relationship and the lengths that one would go to to save one's offspring. I read it in only 3 or 4 days and it went too quickly...with an absolutely shattering ending!

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            16.04.2012 00:28
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            Just read the book, you wont be disappointed x

            Cormac McCarthy is among one of the few fictional authors to write about post-apocalyptic society, but to my amazement I actually enjoyed reading this book.

            As an AS English literature student, I study a number of pieces for my summer exam- this being one of them. On first impressions, the book kind of took me aback with it's depressive nature, but due to the fact that I had to, I read it anyway :) Immediately, it is clear that McCarthy's style is overtly different to those of modern authors, using only compound sentences and a mere comma now and again- McCarthy stated in an interview with Oprah that he doesn't like to clog up the page with "weird little marks". However, this is quite a difficult style to get used to, and as a reader, it put me off a bit as I was reluctant to read it in the beginning and this layout just confused me too much! You do get used to it after the first hundred pages, oh, and the book doesn't have chapters! I know, bombshell moment... It just simply flows, however I felt this just reflected McCarthy's craft as a writer as it emphasizes the 'anything goes' structure of society, and it's mess up after the unspecified cataclysmic event which shattered mankind.

            The story follows mainly two characters: The Man and The Boy. The man is in charge of making sure the boy is safe and that they get to the coast ( their destination in the novel) where they plan to find others and settle. The characters travel both a literal and metaphorical road, in the sense that they need to get to the coast and the way they develop as people throughout the expedition. McCarthy is clever as he doesn't state what the disaster is, allowing the reader to interpret it for themselves. For me, it made me wonder whether it was a man-made disaster, the effects of capitalism resulting in an outbreak of war and or nuclear bombing?

            As the book progresses, the relationship between the man and the boy is increasingly highlighted by McCarthy as the last important thing in the world, clearly acting as the most beautiful thing the world holds, and that nothing can revoke love or blow up an innate bond between father and son.
            I just love the fact that this book stands for everything I believe in, and was the main reason I ended up being gripped to it for three days. The questions raised from The Road are that it could be people's nature that maybe one day will cause society to ruin, acting as a cautionary tale and a father/son love story. For those of you who are afraid to leave their comfort zones when it comes to literature please burst that metaphorical bubble and read The Road, you will be pleasantly surprised! I took a lot away from this story, it taught me to respect and love my family, as it is unclear what tomorrow will bring. Even Oprah herself has said this book is great, and odds are she was paid to say it, but the principles there I think! ;)

            5 Dooyoo stars from me, a relatively quick read and so much thought put in by the author to create such a masterpiece. I bought my copy on Amazon for £4.99 about four months ago. I still have a quick read of it now and again, obviously for revision purposes, but because I love entering the world of post-apocalyptic horror, and also the strong loving vibe that the story gives off. I think it is good value for money and a story you will hold in your hearts forever! Thank you for reading.... Pinky Xxx

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            13.04.2012 11:01
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            An American classic?

            This 2006 book by Cormac McCarthy charts the adventures and tribulations of a a man and his son travelling through the desolate remains of a future America. The book won the 2007 Pulitzer fiction prize and the James Tait Black memorial prize for fiction in 2006 and was highly praised at the time. It has since been made into a Hollywood film.

            The book is fairly short in length, my copy was 256 pages although the paragraphs are quite short and the typeface quite large, I read the book in about three days but it could easily be read in one sitting.

            The genre would probably be described as science fiction, but there is very little in terms of traditional science fiction and the novel is more concerned with the interaction between the man and the boy (who are described as such and never actually named). They are travelling towards the coast following some unspecified catastrophe possibly nuclear war, there is very little food or shelter available to them other than food they can steal from abandonded homes and shops which have already been heavily looted and they teeter on the edge of starvation. Almost all plants and animals are dead although there are a few other human survivors these are treated with caution as it seems canibalism, murder and rape are all they can expect from these fellow survivors.

            The mans wife and boys mother has committed suicide some time in the past and it emerges that the boy was born around about the time of the world changing event.

            The man carries a handgun but with only two bullets it is used more as a deterrent than anything else.

            The man is also ill in some way and frequently coughs up blood and the boy is clearly not of an age where he can look after himself alone, it seems the man has resigned himself to killing the boy before he dies, I won't spoil the later chapters by disclosing how this resolves.

            The novel is quite bleak and there are no moments of humour, this is not a lighthearted read and I would have been quite reluctant to persevere if the novel had been another hundred pages or so. As it is I did quite enjoy the book although it probably isn't something I would usually choose, (a friend gave me this copy). I wouldn't however rate it as highly as some reviewers, it has been touted as the best book of the last twenty five years which I would certainly disagree with.

            Overall recommended but not if you want cheering up!

            The book is available from Amazon for about £5.00 but I'm sure you would get a copy from a charity shop for less as the book has been around for a few years.

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            29.11.2011 13:55
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            Fantastic

            This has to be a can't put down book if ever I read one. From the start there is dark humor and suspense. Tell the final turn of the last page you can't see whats coming and how bad life can be. The best thing about this book is the way it makes you see that your life isn't as bad as it could be. If your interested in all things end of the world then this is the book for you. It contains a great many ideas that may help you survive the darkest days of the world. Very relevant with the year fast approaching 2012 considered by a great many to be the end. Without ruining the book it is a story of a man trying to do his best in an impossible situation. For many it will be a mirror on your own life. A fantastic read. A perfect story in many ways.

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              11.05.2011 17:42
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              A hard book to read and review but at least it's different

              The Road is post apocalyptic tale by Cormac McCarthy and in it he charts the travels of a man and a boy as they follow a road through scarred and battered landscapes to the ocean.

              This is a book which will probably polarise the readers as they read a story of an un-named man and his son through a post apocalyptic wasteland where nothing grows everything is dead and life is almost impossible. The tale is told in small segments of cold hard dialogue with no descriptive texts surrounding the words or any emotional attachments to the dialogue as it is given to the reader. The story set up is one of short very terse paragraphs of dialogue between the father and the son, the reader has to guess the situation's full import because the full description of what the pair are witnessing are missing.

              The story is that at some point in the past everything on the Earth dies except humankind, given that kind of terror the human race becomes nomadic and survival is based on foraging and willingness to extreme forms of self preservation. The book's material is deliberately hard to read and the reader is given no warm comforts to hide in as the man and boy travel through the ravaged country on the way to the hoped for protection of the ocean. The exact cause of the catastrophe is unknown, we meet very few people on the way and there is no suggestion that the Earth is starting to recover from the destruction.

              So we have a novel which on many fronts is very laudable and one which is truly a piece of imaginative literature but is it readable or not?

              Well in my opinion I found the style and the structure of the novel extremely challenging, I had the same problem with the novels by David Pearce in which there is an inner dementia thrown upon the reader by the author. This makes the story compelling at points but ultimately makes the reviewer not care about the two main characters because we know almost nothing about them, we have no idea on where they are from, what they look like, why they are travelling or indeed any hopes or fears for the future. The book seems to want to wash away their humanity by reducing them to nothing more than voices and opinions, this disembodiment makes for a book without a feeling of attachment to humanity.

              So yes they are travelling through a devastated countryside but everything seems to be summed up by the constant use of the term ash. The author constantly wants to reduce the power of the Earth down to a fine ash which seems to cover everything; as a result we are bombarded with the use of the ash as a metaphor for the destruction of life on Earth.

              So this reader struggled manfully through the book, at just over 300 pages it isn't a particularly long novel especially when there are very few sentences and very short in terms of word number paragraphs and chapters. This reader read half in an hour and finished the whole book in a little over 2 hours, all of it depressing and dreary reading. This kind of novel does tend to divide opinion as I mentioned at the start I'm sure some readers and reviewers will applaud the braveness and abruptness of the language used to give a sense of the panic and fear of the people in the tale. The use of short punchy lines, give a sense of frenzy and paranoia felt by the man and his son, the book is at it's heart a very simple tale but the writing and style manage to hide this. In fact there is little going on for long periods in the book, there is the need for food, the need for warmth and comfort but for this to cover chapters and chapters was a little too much for this reader.

              This book has been the hardest to rate in terms of stars for quite some time, I feel the need to give 3 or 4 for the clarity of the vision of the author but also feel the need to give 1 for the lack of anything approaching a readable story so I think 2 is fair.

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                11.12.2010 01:12
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                A bleak post-apocalyptic tale

                The Road is a popular, some might even say cult, novel from the author of No Country For Old Men. It is a post-apocalyptic tale with one difference from other conventional tales in that very little is said about the apocalypse that has brought tragedy to this world. The main characters are a father and his son, and with no names this is pretty much all we ever learn about them. For me, this made this a very difficult novel for me to connect with and left me feeling pretty much cold and unimpressed!

                The main storyline seems to simply be about the pair as they head South, at first towards the coast and then onwards, through a desolate landscape devoid of much life and where all those who have survived struggle for survival. Cannibalism seems to be rife with many groups of marauders only too happy to consume the flesh of their fellow man in order to survive! Meanwhile whole towns and homes have been abandoned and it is almost as though the pair are among the last humans left alive.

                There are some clues as to what has befallen but these are vague and unclear at best. The sun is permanently hidden behind a constant bank of grey cloud and the nights devoid of any moon or starlight suggesting a natural disaster but there are also hints, given in rare flashbacks, that man has also played a part in his own destruction! A fine layer of ash covers the ground wherever the father and son walk and there are strong winds and unatural weather conditions that include extremely violent storms! Part of the appeal here I can imagine is the desire to find answers but it is not giving anything away when I tell you that ultimately these are not forthcoming!

                I know this book has a virtual cornicopia of fans and the majority of readers here have sung its praises. Me, I found it bleak, depressing and uninspiring and was left feeling almost cheated by the inevitable conclusion!

                I can find nothing inside me that could even remotely reccommend this book and all I can say is don't be swayed by the plethora of critical acclaim that lines both inside covers and covers the back cover as well in praise. By all means, read this and make up your own mind but don't be tricked into thinking this is some kind of hidden classic because this is, at its most basic, a book where very little happens and where its greatest success lies in its vast descriptive passages which are difficult to fault!

                Other than this though, I found the book disappointingly unimpressive!

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                14.07.2010 17:02
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                A future classic for English Literature students.

                An apple, a patch of light, a puddle of clean water. Whatever it is that we take for granted - Mcarthy makes into a fantastic idea of hope. Rather than focusing on what was before or how, this book is firmly set 'in the moment', so much so that you can honestly feel a part of the nameless couple that travel the wastelands of America on their own.
                You might find that describing a barren and near featureless wasteland for page after page might get somewhat repetitive and boring. I can assure you that it does not. This is perhaps what makes this book so much different from anything else I have read, taking the maccabre of something like Frankenstein and putting it all into a post-modern context.
                I am a massive fan of anything Post-Apocolyptic, and this is a welcome breath of fresh air for the genre that seems to be full of simply awful zombie films as of late. I have never been so happy to read such a depressing book!
                If nothing else, this book deserves to become a future classic for English Literature students.

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                20.05.2010 01:14

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                An unusual book but a good one none the less

                I have played post apocalyptic games and watched movies before but they don't get across the starkness that Cormac McCarthy gets across in this book.

                The story is about a man and a child who are simply called that no names. They are father and son who are travelling south to look for a better life in the post apocalyptic ransacked world living hand to mouth, starving, cold and with little hope, this is not a book to read if you want something light and cheery but does get to you, the structuring of the book is to have a few paragraphs and then cut to another day or later that day which works well and makes you want to continue reading, I have seen some authors who use this style but to nowhere as effective as McCarthy does.

                I have to say I was impressed by the style of the book but not the storyline particularly it was wondering and aimless with little really occurring but I guess that was the point. I do think it is worth a read, but I am also looking forwards to reading a more cheerful book next.

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                29.04.2010 17:05
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                Easily accessible to any reader, quite simply a masterpiece

                This novel tells the story of the desolate journey of a father and his young son across America following the "death" of our planet. No birds fly in the sky, no other animals are seen, and there is no plant life to offer food or nutrition. The two wanderers have left their home and entered this wasteland in a desperate attempt to reach the coast where they believe they will find salvation. Along the way they meet a variety of other characters who are struggling to survive in this most inhospitable of environments. Not all are friendly and share the same ideals as our heroes, quite the opposite infact, as some of the people they meet have turned to cannibalism in order to survive.

                What becomes apparent as the tale unfolds is that this is the only way the boy knows the planet, he hasn't met other children and has never been to school. This is an extremely profound thought, when reading the book you gain a developed understanding of the day to day life of the boy, the trials and tribulations he has to go through to simply eat and drink are astounding. This understanding allows you to empathise with the boy and thoughts began to develop in myself at how lucky and privileged I had been as a child, this brought memories of my own childhood to the surface and as a result my sympathy for the boy grew exponentially as I thought how much of life he hadn't experienced. However these thoughts of sympathy did ebb away following the realization that had the boy ever knew any different he probably wouldn't have been able to cope and carry on with his struggle, his innocence and inexperience was very much his saviour!

                The above is just one of many outstanding moments within the story, not wanting to give to much away the reader is exposed to their times of desperation and triumph, sadness and joy as they press on with their journey. The reader really is taken on a rollercoaster journey of emotion, and for the relatively short novel that this is an extremely strong bond was formed between reader and characters.

                This definitely is the kind of book that you don't ever want to put down , and that you may feel a grat sadness at turning the last page - I definitely did.

                I would greatly recommend this to fans of any genre, it is quite simply a literary triumph!

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                02.03.2010 19:14
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                Great book , worth a read

                The Road is definetly one of the strangest books I have ever read , It doesn't have a linear storyline and just follows along the life of a father and son as they walk the wasteland that is now America. The book is written by Cormac McCarthy author of no country for old men. The story is mainly about morality and survival.

                ===Story===
                As I said the make up of the story is one that follows the trials of the father and son as they try to save in the desolate woodland and cities. Moving on all the time so not to be found by the "bad guys" , As the father now has his only objectives as getting to the coast and protecting his son. The story doesn't tell you how America got to this or the reasons behind it , It also fails to give much of a backstory behind the father and son.

                The story is written beautifuly and the descriptions of the areas there in are so vivid you feel you are walking alongside them. The story is slow to begin with but begins to rise and fall as the duo become more desperate and closer to death.

                The characters get involved in a few scary moments but these dont last to long and as soon as action appears it drifts off again , this actually fits well as it shows the fear of the characters and their struggle to survive. As the description may suggest the books sadness comes through the fathers attempts to keep his child alive whilst taking as many risks as possible, there are many heartbreaking moments in this story as you hear a young boy talk so openly about how he doesn't want to be alone , and his father explaining how if he his caught how the son should use the pistol to kill himself so he is not a slave.

                ===Availabilty/Price===
                I purchased the book in Asda for £3.98 but is also available on Amazon for 12p less so a bargain either way.

                ===Overall===
                This book is really worth reading , It is powerful and emotional. One of the best books i have read. I read this as it seemed slightly similar to the game Fallout and deals with the same issues.

                ===Extra info===
                The book is 307 pages long and has a slightly bigger than usual print , the writing has large gaps between paragraphs which break up different sections of the day.
                The DvD is also available on May 17th for £11.99 on amazon.

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                  21.02.2010 18:31
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                  A father and son travel through a post-apocalyptic world.

                  A man and a boy are on the road, heading south towards the coast. We never find out exactly what disaster befell the world several years previously, but the landscape is covered in dust and ash. Nothing is alive except for a few people desperately trying to survive; some have turned to cannibalism, while others search for canned food or remains of grain in long-abandoned buildings. Will the man and the boy survive the trek through mountainous terrain in the winter snows, and will they find a better world if they do reach the coast?

                  We are never told the names of the man and the boy, but the boy calls the man Papa so they are obviously father and son. There is in fact only one character who is named in the novel, and as it turns out this is not his real name. But names matter little in this devastated world.

                  Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic 'The Road' takes place in the bleakest of settings where a boy who has never known a better life witnesses the lengths to which some human beings will go in order to satisfy their hunger. This is a harrowing tale, and yet the bond between the father and son creates a wonderful sense of humanity that rises above the ugliness and horror. The boy has developed a tremendous compassion for his fellow human beings and on several occasions finds it extremely hard to accept his father's hard-heartedness. The compassion, however, perhaps stems from naivety, and the father is concerned above all about the welfare of his son and their own survival.

                  At times dreams appear to play as much a part in the man and the boy's consciousness as the events of their daily lives do. We are given details of the man's dreams from time to time, but the boy always refuses to talk to his father about the nature of his dreams. All we know is that the father has explained to his son that good dreams are a bad sign and vice versa.

                  There are few other characters in the novel; other people fall into either the 'bad guys' or the 'good guys' category. The good guys are very few and far between, whereas the man and the boy are always on the alert for the bad guys who are likely to outnumber them. There is a scene explaining the disappearance of the boy's mother, and as a mother myself I found it hard to accept her course of action. The boy never mentions her, but it is difficult to imagine what thoughts he must have bottled up inside him.

                  Dialogue between the man and the boy is usually in the form of a series of brief exchanges. McCarthy doesn't use speech marks or state, for example, 'the man said', and this occasionally causes confusion as to who is saying what to whom. It isn't, however, a major problem. What is most striking about the writing style is that many episodes are detailed accounts of mundane procedures concerned with, say, preparing food or packing bags, yet McCarthy's prose is often almost poetic: 'The world shrinking down about a raw core of parsible entities.' Sometimes sentences are not complete sentences, but this seems to add to the effect.

                  I found the novel extremely easy to read; there are no chapters as such, but the book is divided into very brief sections. It is easy to find a stopping place, yet also tempting to think 'I'll just read one more section'. There are just over three hundred pages and I read it in a few hours over the course of three days. It is a compelling novel, yet having finished it, it deserves perhaps a second slower reading to dwell on McCarthy's poetic nuances at leisure.

                  I didn't expect to enjoy, if that is the right word, this novel as much as I did. I didn't know whether I would in fact be able to read a story that sounded so harsh and horrific. But the feeling that I was left with was one of admiration for the father's unconditional love for his son and his relentless determination to seek a better life for him. In such a world, I would imagine that many would decide it was pointless to go on living; giving up or taking one's own life would seem an easy option. Yet in 'The Road' we see a man who believes that if there is the remotest chance of a better life for his son, then he must lead him to it.

                  Some feel that the dominance of male characters make this a novel more likely to appeal to men, but I think it's unlikely that I am the exception that proves the rule. Others interpret McCarthy's message here as a warning that this will be the world of the future if we continue to live the way we do. I'm not totally convinced that this is McCarthy's intention in 'The Road', as he never explains what it was that happened so it could have been a natural disaster. What stays with me is still the intensity of the father-son relationship; the boy does not by any means always approve of or understand his father's actions, yet they develop a moving bond that will touch the heart of any reader. There are violent and harrowing scenes here, but they are not the overriding theme for me. Even if you would normally shy away from a novel that appears to centre around devastation, I would recommend reading 'The Road' for its focus on the way that a human relationship can transcend disaster.

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                  A father and his son walk alone through burned America, heading through the ravaged landscape to the coast. This is the profoundly moving story of their journey. The Road boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which two people, 'each the other's world entire', are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation. 'The first great masterpiece of the globally warmed generation. Here is an American classic which, at a stroke, makes McCarthy a contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature ...An absolutely wonderful book that people will be reading for generations' - Andrew O'Hagan. 'A work of such terrible beauty that you will struggle to look away' - Tom Gatti, The Times. 'So good that it will devour you, in parts. It is incandescent' - Niall Griffiths, Daily Telegraph. 'You will read on, absolutely convinced, thrilled, mesmerised. All the modern novel can do is done here'