Friday, April 19, 2013

Sci-Fi Book Review for "The Road" by Cormac McCarthey

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For many of you, this book needs no introduction. Even if you don't know much about the book, you can easily Google your way into a host of knowledge that should scream "READ THIS BOOK." It's on my list of 5 Must Reads.

I can attest that it's the only Oprah Book Club book that I have read. It's also a Pulitzer Prize winner. But, the accolades are far more reaching than that. It has been labeled as one of the most environmentally influential works of fiction. Why? Well, I will hint at it a little. To me, it is THE most eye opening pieces of literature I have ever read. Why? Well, as many of you know, I am a simplistic prepper. I believe that we are on the precipice of an economical, social, and perhaps environmental collapse. But, in my mind, I would thrive in such a situation...easily providing for myself and my family. Sure, there will be hardships, but none that serious. This book defines how wrong I could be.

You can find the Wikipedia info on it here.

What's really amazing about this book is that it was almost immediately adapted to movie form. The book was published in 2006 and the movie was out in 2009 staring Viggo Mortensen.

Plot Summery:
An unnamed father and his young son journey across a grim post-apocalyptic landscape, some years after a major unexplained cataclysm has destroyed civilization and most life on Earth. The land is filled with ash and devoid of living animals and vegetation. Many of the remaining human survivors have resorted to cannibalism, scavenging the detritus of city and country alike for flesh. The boy's mother, pregnant with him at the time of the disaster, gave up hope and committed suicide some time before the story began, despite the father's pleas. Much of the book is written in the third person, with references to "the father" and "the son" or to "the man" and "the boy."

Realizing that they cannot survive the oncoming winter where they are, the father takes the boy south, along empty roads towards the sea, carrying their meager possessions in their knapsacks and in a supermarket cart. The man coughs blood from time to time and eventually realizes he is dying, yet still struggles to protect his son from the constant threats of attack, exposure, and starvation.

Pros: This book is well written from start to end. The author sets the scene vividly. More importantly, he sets the mood. Many of my friends find that they cannot read this book, as its tale is too chilling, to dark, and depressing for them to read. I admit that reading this book has caused me to really rethink a lot of what I think of my strength of parenting. The father in this book displays courage and strength that are both needed in the situation but almost impossible to fathom to me. His resolve in doing right to the end is almost boundless and untenable, but provides hope to readers that they, too, could have such resolve.

From a socio-economic impact, critics are right on. Again, we have in our mind what a post-apocalyptic world would be like, look like, and behave like. Yet, chances are, we would be entirely incorrect. The scene painted for readers in this novel is a paradigm shift in thinking that may be more accurate, all together, than anything we have assumed. Is it possible that the entire eco system could just die? Absolutely. We see human made impacts on  smaller scale every day. Would humans resort to cannibalism on a wide scale? Sure. Its happened numerous times throughout history. This novel has simply proven that our understanding and expectations are narrowly drawn from a few models that are all very similar and possibly very incorrect. It opens our minds to many new possibilities, showing us just how bad things may be.

This novel shows more than just what could be. It also lays out the the choices we would have to make and the impact. It is eye opening to the fact that survival sometimes isn't the best thing. Take the conversations between the mother and father. Ultimately, who was right? Were they both right? Or were they both wrong. What was best for the child, in the end? We will never know.

Cons: To me, there are very few cons regarding this novel. It is depressing. It shows the limits of both ends of humanity. It proves that most of us will never be the parents or providers we think we could be. I promise that you will not read this book and come away without a tear in your eye and some hard questions in your head.

Summary: This book is on mine, and everyone else's, list of "must reads", Very few books have caused me to "feel" with the characters. I encourage you all to buy it.