The Herald claims this novel as "a masterpiece that will soon become a classic." I cannot believe they are referring to this novel The Road
. Or surely the entire quote is missing the big "NOT" in front of it? For this is perhaps the worst story I have ever
read. Overhyped, overly nihilistic, perhaps even overly sentimental in some eyes and appearing to possess depth while lacking it.
I love books and there are few books I don't enjoy in some measure. Most books have something to offer morally, entertainment-wise, spiritually, philosophically or psychologically. However The Road is personally the first really pointless book I've read. And I write that to mean that it was vacuous and empty for me. It was a lifeless and bleak book with little substance and little plot.
To put it simply The Road was dull for me. It spends three hundred pages with two characters, both of whom go unnamed travelling along a road. For absolutely no point except to survive and even then McCarthy portrays the other humans also as merely selfish or cannibalistic. Actually I don't know if portrays is the right word. There was so little depth to the characters that they weren't even really portrayed. The ending was not really beautiful to me because it simply turned the story into a tale of people trying to survive and I don't think people just survive. I think people live truly. Perhaps they do descend into a sort of darkness at times to help them survive but they won't stay like that forever. This was simply a bad attempt at doing what works like [b:Lord of the Flies|6495605|Lord of the Flies|William Golding|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1356913748s/6495605.jpg|2766512] do better in my opinion.
From the outset I could sense that this was a bad book. I had been warned yet I had to see what the hype was with this novel. And it was like playing with fire. I didn't get anything from the book really except the realisation that I found a book I actually dislike. The Hobbit opens brilliantly and memorably in my mind with the lines "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." What does The Road open with?
"When he woke in the woods in the dark and the cold of the night he'd reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him."
Speaking of punctuation this book crucifies grammar conventions. I'm all for writers changing conventions for specific uses. Tolkien did it, Lewis Carol has done it and so have many other incredible writers. Yet what The Road does is simplify an already simple writing style into something that comes across as emotionally stilted and immature.
Firstly the novel had little and quite inconsistent punctuation; the annoying case of missing apostrophes in words like hed
; repetitive and unimaginative speaking without proper quotation marks; and lack of etiquette in creating page breaks. It looks like McCarthy wanted to turn his novel into a page turner because I was turning those pages quickly to make the book end.
The speech was perhaps by far the most grating thing. I hate, hate, hate, hate repetitive speech (you get the point). What The Road did was:
Are we going to be fine.
Are you sure?
Not just once but often. So often that the dialogue was sadly the most memorable aspect of the book for me. I didn't see a redemptive plot. I didn't see McCarthy's usually brilliant description. I saw a meandering novel that did little.
The repetition spread to many other words. So many phrases were repeated that it was noticeable. Not only that but the speech without quotation marks made it hard for me to figure out who was talking and who wasn't. Plus the speaking which took up most of the book dragged in a monotone without any variance. It all seemed childish, fake and poorly written. I could almost hear the monotone all the time like some average film with poor-quality acting.
Now, I can see why people like this book. At least I think I can. I see what McCarthy was trying to do in making it childlike. I just don't think he did it well. I'm admittedly no fan of his style - which to me comes across as distracting and gimmicky, with his worldview far too bleak - but as the first book of his I read I think this is one of his worst efforts personally, not his best as some rave. There are better post-apocalyptic fiction works out there that are well written and have a touch of hope through survival. You might laugh at the idea that a post-apocalyptic work can have a sense of hope but the best in my view do. The sense of hope that humanity can learn from their mistakes. The sense that we are both good and evil. I don't see that in The Road
. I see a simple morality that says we are all bad (even the ending didn't seem filled with hope as others suggested).