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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Audiobook Review: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

TITLE: The Road
AUTHOR: Cormac McCarthy
NARRATOR: Tom Stechschulte
PUBLISHER: Recorded Books
PUBLICATION DATE: March 15, 2007
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook, 6 hrs and 39 mins
GENRE: Science Fiction/Dystopia, Classics
ISBN: 9781428112780
A searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece.

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.

The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world and is about a man (simply referred to as “the man”) and his son (referred to as “the boy”), who are travelling south on “the road” in the hopes that the climate will be warmer. They have a shopping cart to haul their meager supplies, such as blankets and canned food. They are dying a slow death, starving, and the man has to watch his son waste away before his very eyes. As if dying of starvation wasn’t bad enough, they need to be on the look-out for the “bad guys”: The ones that would resort to cannibalism in order to survive. The man and the boy vow that they would never do such a thing, no matter how bad it gets. They have a pistol for protection, and little else. The man ponders whether his wife did the right thing, taking her own life to avoid the pain and suffering of a slow death or to, perhaps, escape from the depravity of the world. They do encounter other survivors along the way, and the boy shows his kindness towards others by insisting that his father share with the other travellers the little food that they have managed to scrounge up.

The Road is tragic and heartbreaking, and McCarthy describes a lonely and desolate world. The man and the boy struggle to hold onto their own humanity while little is left in the world. At one point, the boy gets sick and the man vows to never leave him. He is prepared to kill himself if his son dies so that he will stay with him, even into death. As a mom, I get that. The scene was very poignant and left me with a lump in my throat. Thankfully, the boy recovers. If it weren’t for the boy, I doubt the man would have even had the will to live.

The man also promises to never let any harm come to the boy, and he is even willing to take his own son’s life to save him from being murdered and eaten by the “bad guys.” This is one part of the book that is particularly haunting:

"Can you do it? When the time comes? When the time comes there will be no time ... Could you crush that beloved skull with a rock?"

The father’s love for his son is touching, and he continually shows his compassion for his son by giving him the best of everything. He finds a can of Coca-Cola and insists that the boy drink it all. On another occasion, he found flavoured drink crystals and put it in the boy’s water. It gives him pleasure to give these little treats to his son.

The story is a depressing one, and it isn’t one where everyone lives happily ever after. I did like the book, but it left me feeling very sad and in a bit of a funk. 

Narrator Tom Stechschulte is new-to-me, and I could feel the desperation in his vocal characterization of “the man.” I thought his portrayal of the characters was very convincing.


  1. I have been wanting to read this! I think I will move it up on my list now that I see you liked it.

    1. Hi, Megan. Yes, I did like it even though it was depressing!

  2. It sounds interesting. I'm buying plenty of tissues before I read it though. Thanks for sharing your review.

    1. Hi, mamabunny13! Good planning on the tissues ;)

  3. Yes, you definitely need a box full of tissues for this one. It is very depressing, but a great book nonetheless. The movie was equally so, but I won't tell you to watch it. Sometimes it can be even more heartbreaking seeing it on screen. And Viggo Mortensen is such a great actor.

    Anyway, Darlene, nice review. =O)

  4. Thanks, Michelle! Now, I really want to see the movie!


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