Not to be confused with On The Road by Jack Kerouac which is why I originally bought it oops. Still I love it when this happens because it means I accidentally discover a book that I never would have picked up other wise.
Anyway, The Road. A father and son walked their way across burnt America. They are heading for the coast although they don’t know what awaits them there. All they have to defend themselves is a pistol from the savage gangs that room the wasteland.
Sounds pretty cool right? And pretty reminiscent of The Stand by Stephen King. That’s what I thought anyway and when I was finished I felt pretty vindicated because this book is everything The Stand should be but it is 1000 pages shorter. The atmosphere of fear is so powerful I expected the world to end any second whilst reading it. Structurally this book is as sparse as the barren ex-country of America and it is brilliant at building the tension. What am I even afraid of? Deep down I know but I don’t want to admit it. Not until the very end when it is said out load by the little boy, not even then do I want to accept it as a possibility.
There is some pretty graphic stuff in this book I must admit. Be prepared if you are squeamish or easily disturbed like me. I suggest reading the Wikipedia page first so it doesn’t come as quite so much of a shock if you do want to read it and I really recommend you do. There isn’t much to the plot, there is very little character development but this book is like a lesson in atmosphere. It is so well done you understand without knowing anything. I could picture this once green now black waste land I had never seen and I could sense the shadows around me, behind the sofa, in the next room, the ghosts that vanished just as I switched on the light. It is rare when a book can do that to you.
There isn’t really much to the ending either. There is no conclusion, no satisfaction and I know when I was younger I would have found this very frustrating. But now I understand there is no conclusion for the characters and the author makes us feel their ongoing struggle as we close the final pages of the book. For that reason, and the gorey bits, don’t read it before you go to sleep. Seriously, there are some books that for the sake of your health you need to read in daylight and this is one of them.
Would recommend to: post-apocalyptic lovers with a strong stomach.