Dark, gloomy, depressive post-apocalyptic novel by Cormac McCarthy...
Desolate land swept in the fiery storms... ashes falling from the grey skies... no wildlife... no plants... billions of people are gone.... what's left is either perverted and insane or at the end of its strength...
Fallen burned cities, dead woods, black rivers, roads full of rusted deserted vehicles. Through this dark scenario an unnamed man and his young son are walking on a path to nowhere. Middle aged man is doing everything in his power to keep his son alive. Because his son is the only thing that keeps him going. Long ago his wife decided that she can no longer survive in this world, just waiting to be raped and eaten so she took her own life. The man couldn't do the same. He couldn't kill his son. So, now, a decade later they are still on the road. Always moving. Always hiding. Always hungry and cold.
The young boy was born into this dying world. He never knew anything better. All he knows is dark, cold, dying, hungry, evil... and yet he possesses the feelings of mercy, kindness, compassion, love, empathy... somewhat a miracle. His father tried to teach him about the old world but gave up once he realized he can no longer remember it correctly.
They encounter hordes of cannibals who have young boys and pregnant women on the leash as they are traveling down the road to the south. They will kill and eat anything, no remorse, no conscience. Young children and women are raped and molested in this hopeless world. This is no place for infants and old people. Well... it seems like this will soon be a place for no people whatsoever.
The man is constantly coughing up blood as they are trying to find something edible. He is afraid to leave his son alone in this place. He is trying to teach him everything that will help keep him alive. He knows of the dangers that are threatening him and the starvation that's always only a step away. But he can't kill him. He feels like he must keep him alive, like this is his only mission in life.
I must say, it's been a while since I've read such a depressing story. Not that it's only depressing in itself but it spreads the depression like a wildfire. Upon finishing this book I was in such a gloomy mood that I started to ask myself what is the point of living in this merciless world and why do we continue to struggle on through our suffering.
I'm not a gloomy person so I hated that feeling. This book is a really good representative of its genre but I can't help but wish for a happier ending. It is clear how much the father loves his son and how much he suffers to give him everything he has. The boy is practically a miracle. This compassionate young boy tries to save everyone he encounters. He begs his father not to kill anyone and to take everyone along. Even though they are already starving and they don't have much.
The scenes like an infant on the fire with his guts taken out or people locked in the basement with one man missing his legs which were eaten and he still lives on or pregnant women being dragged on a chain behind a horde of cannibals are quite disturbing but also very bold. The writer doesn't sugarcoat things. He gives everything straight out. This post-apocalyptic world is quite possibly a true image of our real nature when governments fall and the planet dies. It is hard to imagine, but it is possible to imagine it. People are cruel and deviant if set in a right environment. They are also those selected few who will always carry good and light inside them. Those people seem like a messiah. That's exactly what I thought the boy will be. A messiah with light and happier future ahead of him. And he might be but the book ends in a way that we can only presume what will happen. Probably depending on the nature of the person reading it.
That's why I think that this book is completely different for everyone who reads it. Depending on your nature, your experience and the light or darkness you carry inside of you, you will either read a book that only goes towards the end of mankind or you will read a book with a notch of hope at the very end. For me, there was a spark of hope. Maybe I'm just a dreamer or a hopeless believer but I wish for that boy to grow up, gather good people around him and start over. The planet could also rewind and start over. Nothing is definite.
What this book gives you, is love between a father and a son in a cold, merciless place that only knows hate and despair. It also gives you chills about the visions of a dark future ahead. But most importantly, it gives you hope. Because despite everything, all the loses, all the troubles, inhumane environment, we still exist, we still struggle and we will never give up.