I spent the weekend in St. Michael’s, Maryland in a beautiful house overlooking the bay. Yay family! My aunt, the owner of the house, handed me a book as soon as I got there and said she read it in one sitting–she just couldn’t put it down. Now, this is a work-a-holic woman who spends most of her time in her office and on the phone during the week, and the rest of the time doing chores around her house, so when she recommended a book that she “couldn’t put down” I thought it would be a grand adventure.
The Road is an interesting bit of literature. It is the story of the end of the world as we know it, but it is told in a unique manner. The story revolves around a man (only known as “the man” or “Papa”) and his boy (only known as “the boy) who are traveling south in some unknown country after some unknown tragedy that ended civilization. The author does not go into detail about what caused the situation, nor does he expound upon the plight of the characters. It is a rather simple story of a hard journey to outrun the winter and find enough food to make it through the next day. The man and his son scavenge a desolate land where nothing is alive…no animals, no plants, just displaced people. As the story progresses, the reader gets a sense that the pivotal event took place several years before–just a few days before the boy was born, and death and destruction have continued since. The boy’s mother kills herself and the father goes on the run to avoid a little-known threat that is not explained and only seen twice throughout the story; both encounters end horrifically and violently.
I liked this story and I liked the author’s style. This really was a typical end-of-the-world, if-we-don’t-stop-we’ll-all-die type of warning book that has been popular for decades, but the author approached it in such a way as to make it much more terrifying and unsettling than any other I’ve read. He didn’t give detailed scenes; he didn’t explain the political or social causes of the horror; he didn’t even describe what was living and what wasn’t. Everything was just there, revealed to the reader as the two main characters experienced it, underscored with a definite message about the nature of living and what humans are capable of. The author used no quotation marks, which left the reader uncertain as to who was speaking or if it was a thought. This uncertainty put the reader on edge, and heightened the general horror of the story. The lack of detail allowed for the imagination to run wild, and the few detailed glimpses of actual horror just bolstered the imagination instead of dampening it.
I recommend this book as an emotionally moving piece. It sticks with you during the read and well after. I read it in one sitting, not only because it was good, but because I knew that I couldn’t put it down without knowing how the horror resolved itself.