‘The Road,’ written by Cormac McCarthy, is a post-apocalyptic novel which follows a father and his son as they struggle to stay alive amid the hostile remains of North America. The cause of the apocalypse is unknown, although there are hints of the long anticipated eruption of the Yellowstone Volcano. As the two travelers journey south along what is most likely the Eastern coast of America, they rely solely on each other to stay alive. This unique tale brings the dystopian novel the dose of reality that has not been seen in the past.
‘The Road’ is an unconventional dystopian story. Most young readers hear the words “dystopian novel” and their minds race to The Hunger Games or Divergent containing their heroic protagonists and love triangles. While these books play a role in the more mainstream aspect of the genre, McCarthy brings something different to the table of the post-apocalyptic novel. He looks for the emotional side of life and death, bringing the reader along on a journey similar to Romanticism. As a result, the most notable difference in ‘The Road’ as compared to the modern dystopian novel is the absence of hope.
McCarthy is not shy in sharing the lengths to which people are willing to go in order to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. This book is perfect for lovers of violence and gore. However, don’t expect the usual comedic or romantic reliefs provided by other dystopian authors. McCarthy gives his readers the cold, hard truth about what fighting for one’s own survival is actually like. However, amid the darkness, McCarthy also illuminates the moral strength of a man and his son. The two travelers encounter thieves and cannibals, suffer through sickness and starvation, are stripped of their home and their identities, and yet they manage, against all odds, to salvage their morality. In a world where they are destined to have no future, they still manage to stay true to being good at heart.
McCarthy has written 10 novels in his career along with multiple short stories, plays, and screenplays. ‘The Road’ was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2007. Although his book is now over a decade old, in my opinion, it still resonates as one of the most powerful statements of humanity. McCarthy’s tale is not one of pessimism and iniquity, but one of morality fighting its way through the darkness of an unforgiving world. ‘The Road’ is an important modern novel that should be read by all literature fanatics as well as those who live for the cliché dystopian story. McCarthy will surprise all readers with this new perspective on what it really means to be a good person.