Wednesday, January 07, 2009

SHTF: The Road Novel

I posted not too long ago about The Road by Cormac McCarthy and how to survive the conditions described. What I did not do was give my opinion and review of the book.

The Road has generated some heated discussions on most of the survivalist forums and boards. The reactions take two courses and are polar opposites;

"I hated The Road. Worse piece of writing I ever read".

"The best book I have read recently. Haunting. Incredible story of love in a horrible world".

I will warn you now. I am in the second camp. Is The Road the best book I have ever read? No, but it is a very good book.

If you have not read The Road yet, here is the synopsis. Later, there will be some spoilers, but none that you could not have read elsewhere on the internet.

The Road takes place in some unamed time years after a apocalyptic event has take place. The story follows a man (identified only as the Man) and his son (the Boy) as they travel by foot southward in an attempt to avoid the bitterly cold winters set upon the land of their time.

The world has grown cold, dark and devoid of most life. The air is constantly filled with ash from burning dead trees and other plant life. Ash filled snow and rain fall and the sun is obscured by the cloud cover.

People are few and far between. Most have survived by resorting to eating each other or scavenging from the ruins of homes and buildings. It is a pretty gross world.

The Man and the Boy are trying to reach the ocean believing there might be life and warmth there. They have no possessions save a salvaged grocery cart containing some canned goods, blankets, a tarp for shelter and a revolver with two cartridges.

The trip is harrowing as they encounter and do thier best to avoid gangs of scavengers and cannibals, theives and sub-human behavior of every type.

The Road is a real SHTF survival story. There are no well stocked hidden retreats, no best friend sheriffs who are always around, no wise old people full of practical knowledge and no cardboard bad guys with names like Scrag or Greasy.. just a man and his "world entire" the boy and their never ending perilous journey.

The story is depressing, especially if you are like me and have children. And I could not help but think that the Road portrays a world that most people will end up in if the SHTF. Homeless, wandering, hungry, cold, and carrying all their possessions in some jerry rigged form of transport.

The Road does not end entirely well. There is death and loss, but there is hope in the end. And like so many other critics and fans have mentioned, The Road is about love and sacrifice. More so than most other survival themed books I have read.

Not a pretty story, but a good read and a good book. The writing style and format take some getting used to, but The Road is definately up there in survival fiction writing in my opinion.

Best option, check the local library for a copy or order the paperback online.

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