The Horrifying Truth of an Apocalypse
It may be fun for us to envision ourselves in different scenarios as an apocalyptic survivor, but it is always a horrifying experience. When the end of civilization as we know it comes, it’s impossible to imagine it as a favorable event.
Sure, there may be extremists that stock up on supplies and pray for the collapse to come, but they are on a radical spectrum. I doubt any fully sane person will wish for the destruction of organized society.
When I really think about the world after an apocalypse, terror is what comes to mind. I may believe myself to be capable of doing what’s necessary to survive after an apocalypse, but I’m uncertain if those closest to me would.
That is where my fear stems from.
A Dark, Brutal, and Ambigious Post Apocalyptic World
That is where the book The Road by Cormac McCarthy does such a wonderful job of capturing the undeniable horror of what an apocalypse would bring.
The book makes no attempt to glorify the world. It is dark, brutal, and ambiguous.
It follows a father and his young son as they travel on foot through the remnants of the northern United States. Having lost his wife to suicide shortly after their son was born, the father is left to protect the one good thing he has remaining in the world.
The father realizes that they will not survive another winter in northern climates and embarks on a journey south.
At the beginning of the story, the father tries hard to retain the idea of being good. He mentions to the boy that they are the ‘good guys’ as they travel through a world that has clearly left all illusion of black and white behind.
The longer they are on the road, the more horror they find. They are forced to fight as apocalyptic survivors and are slowly stripped of everything.
The story throws at you some of the worst in people; cannibalism, murder, thievery, even the remorseless killing of an infant. It can be tough to read for some, but it never felt crude or barbaric for the sake of shock value.
The relationship between the father and son is heartwarming. Although the world is cruel, their bond offers hope. Everything about their relationship makes you want to root for them, even when you question some of their decisions.
The book is amazing, from beginning to end.
Emotions in this Apocalypse Will Run Rampant
Be warned, you must be prepared to get emotional. If you don’t enjoy having your feelings brought to the surface, steer clear of this book. There will be multiple moments where you may find yourself breaking down.
If you’re comfortable with that, then pick it up today.
This is the type of book that has inspired me to write my own apocalyptic survivor short story series. I do not believe my own stories to be anywhere close to McCarthy’s level, but I hope to learn from his expertise. One day soon I hope to write something as beautiful as his work.
I’ve read through four of McCarthy’s books so far, (I plan on reading all of them) and I felt like this was the easiest to get through. The others are great, but I did find myself rereading certain sections that my mind had a hard time processing. Not with this one.
The Road felt smooth as it followed a clear narrative. I read it a single time, years ago, and I still remember the way it made me feel quite vividly.
If movies are more up your alley, you won’t be disappointed with the film adaptation. It stars Viggo Mortensen as the father and Kodi Smit-McPhee as the son. I felt it did just as good a job at recreating the savagery of this devastated land as well as the touching bond between father and son.
I highly recommend The Road to anyone interested in apocalyptic survivor stories. It was a great experience that has clung to me and I’m sure will do the same for you.