In “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy a father and his son are on their way into the south. They hope to find a better world there. The world through which they travel is burned. Ash is everywhere and the sun hasn’t been seen for years. During the nights it’s totally dark and during the days it is somewhat brighter. They try to scavenge food and water from burnt houses and mostly live on food from tin cans. They compete with those other few people who also survived the apocalypse and also try to survive some more time.
The apocalypse itself is never described. There are some flashbacks to times before and then there are some very vivid descriptions of the effects of that apocalypse that the two come across while moving south on the road.
There isn’t any specific direction in that book. No climax it’s moving towards. It’s as hopeless as the situation it tells about. And it’s very effective in conveying that bleak atmosphere.
Father and son talk as they move south on that road. Their way of talking is as hopeless as the situation they are in. It feels somewhat robotic and often follows the same pattern. And at times it’s quite philosophical. The discussions between father and son and the situations they go through show how dehumanizing life after the apocalypse is when you have to find some way to survive the next day.
Some of the images the book caused to develop in my head still haunt me two weeks after having read it. If you are interested in a believable account of how life after an apocalypse would look like, then “The Road” is a good choice.