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Title: The Road

Writer: Cormac McCarthy

Publisher: Gramedia Pustaka Utama (2009)

Pages: 264 p

Bought at: Gramedia Merdeka Bandung (IDR 15k, bargain price!)

I’ve never thought that I could finish this book, and actually like it. Why? Because it’s dry, dark, depressing, and really really slow. It’s surreal but also too real at the same time. It made me think of death, end of the world, end of human civilizations. It’s probably one of the scariest books I’ve ever read.

But it’s worth it. Big time.

This is a story about a man and his son, traveling across what’s left on the United States, when the world is near the end. The land was badly burnt, no animals or plants survived. No sign of life. The man and boy walk only with a trolley (contained of leftover food), a gun to defend themselves, and their clothes.

They try to reach the south, even though they don’t know what they will find there. They hide from other men, bad people who are desperate enough to eat another human being. They try to survive this crazy world even though they don’t know if that’s better than just die. What’s the point of living in a dead world? Where humans are not really different than animals? Is it better to just shoot yourself because you are going to die anyway?

This is the struggle the man has inside his heart. But he tries so hard to convince his son about his principle: good people always try, no matter what. They never give up.

This is my first experience reading McCarthy’s book, but I have watched No Country for Old Men (adapted from his book), and The Road has the same atmosphere: silent, slow, the tension gradually built without you realizing it. Even the dialogues are silent, there are no proper quotation marks, sometimes you must guess who’s actually speaking. Although there are no zombies or aliens in the story, this book is definitely scarier than any zombie stories. Because this could really happen, ordinary humans lost their hopes and become desperate because the world is broken.

But you can feel a slight of hope in this book, when the man teaches his kid to be brave, to face the world and never give up. It reminds me that faith and hope will never die, and courage and bravery will be there in good people’s hearts =)

NOTE: This book won Pulitzer Prize in 2007, and adapted in the movie in 2009, staring Viggo Mortensen as the main character. Will definitely check out the movie, but am afraid I can’t stand the scene about cannibalism.

Because of this book, Cormac McCarthy was also declared as one of “50 people who could save the planet”.  British environmental campaigner George Monbiot wrote in an article, “It could be the most important environmental book ever. It is a thought experiment that imagines a world without a biosphere, and shows that everything we value depends on the ecosystem.”

Living in one of the most polluted cities in the world, I can not agree more. Imagine if you have to breathe in the dust every day of your life!