I’d seen the movie long before sitting down to read the original novel. To be honest I never really had the intention of reading the novel either because I feel once faces have been added to the characters your imagination is dulled. It isn’t as free as it would be when you read a novel with no prior imagery. In the end I picked up the book for other reasons, I am currently writing a similar themed short novel and was interested in seeing what style Cormac McCarthy used to tell a story that was incredibly bleak.
The Road tells the story of a father and son who are struggling to survive in an apocalyptic wasteland. We don’t know what happened but we know it was very bad since even the earth itself seems to be living out its last days.
The story does something I found interesting, it never tells you the name of the characters, and never tells you what has occurred in the past. It basically gives you no answers to anything and this is expressed especially well with the minimalist conversations held between the pair.
Death is always one step closer with every page turned, and there are some real heart wrenching moments when the son talks about the idea of death and the father attempts to give hope in return which seems ineffective when told in the world they find themselves in.
The pair repeats their daily chores throughout the book in a struggle to keep themselves from death’s door. Looking for food, setting fires and walking…lots and lots of walking. If you were asked the question ‘What do they do?’ the simplistic reply would be ‘They walk in the day, struggle to sleep in the cold at night’ but that wouldn’t be a true representation of the story.
The Road is a powerful tale of hope and desperation, of love and loyalty. It won’t make you feel optimistic about the direction our world is heading, but it does tell of how even at the very end, humanity holds on to what makes the good people good despite the evil that takes place around them.
Cormac McCarthy has created a rich world without holding our hand every step of the way. We understand the scenario he is talking about through the way he uses the words together rather than from the words used themselves. It flows smoothly and constantly moves forward at a slower pace to give the reader the sense of what the characters are going through, this also works really well when something sudden happens as it appears more important from how panicked the pace seems in comparison.
In regards to the adaptation from book to film, it stays 95% true, one of the truest film adaptations I’ve seen. It is only the very last few sentences that you notice are different and that’s only because books are able to express a richer emotion than film can. A book is always more powerful than a film of the same story, and it always will be (well until the day film manages to reach out of the screen and fuck you up when you get to the right part).
I really enjoyed The Road, it made me feel warm and comforted, but sad stories always make me happy so take that as you like.