Book Review: No Country for Old Men

No Country for Old Men

  • Title: No Country for Old Men
  • Author: Cormac McCarthy
  • Series: None
  • Genre: Fiction, Western, Action and Adventure
  • Publishing Date: July 11, 2006 (July 19, 2005, originally)
  • Publishing Co.: Vintage
  • Length: 309 pages
  • Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook, Audio CD
  • Acquired: Bought a used copy at a book sale event for 50 cents
  • Amazon Link: No Country for Old Men

In his blistering new novel, Cormac McCarthy returns to the Texas-Mexico border, setting of his famed Border Trilogy. The time is our own, when rustlers have given way to drug-runners and small towns have become free-fire zones. One day, a good old boy named Llewellyn Moss finds a pickup truck surrounded by a bodyguard of dead men. A load of heroin and two million dollars in cash are still in the back. When Moss takes the money, he sets off a chain reaction of catastrophic violence that not even the law–in the person of aging, disillusioned Sheriff Bell–can contain. As Moss tries to evade his pursuers–in particular a mysterious mastermind who flips coins for human lives–McCarthy simultaneously strips down the American crime novel and broadens its concerns to encompass themes as ancient as the Bible and as bloodily contemporary as this morning’s headlines. No Country for Old Men is a triumph.


First Chapter Challenge:

The only other book I’ve read by McCarthy was The Road. Naively, I had thought that his unique lack of punctuation was solely contained within that story, his writing style slowly degrading as the post-apocalyptic world did the same. However, I now see that I was incorrect. McCarthy continues this writing style, including disregarding the need for punctuation–especially when it comes to dialogue. As such, I’m still getting used to his writing, and am having a bit of trouble keeping up with who is speaking and to whom. 

But despite the difficult /style, the story has already drawn me in! Just in this first chapter, I’m transported into the life of a man who has stumbled upon a dangerous mystery. And I want to get to the bottom of that mystery! I can’t wait to continue reading and see how this turns out. 


Final Judgment: 4 Stars out of 5

I originally picked this book up because I wanted to read a “modern classic.” I’d read The Road and loved it, so I decided why not? (I also needed a book that started with “N” for my A to Z Reading Challenge in 2020) Normally, not my first pick as I don’t care too much for crime novels, especially cowboy-esque ones. BUT this was worth the read! I ended up finishing it off in 2 straight days. I’ll spare the summary, because the blurb tells all you need to know without giving anything away. 

Pros:

The plot was twisty. I never knew what was going to happen next, and Moss seemed to have great instincts and a knack for knowing exactly what he needed to do. This is what kept me up at night, continuing to flip pages. And it was full of action! 

Characters were fully fleshed out and complex. Each of the character had a backstory, and I wanted to learn more about them. They all had their own views of the world and their jobs, and I could understand their point of view, even when they were on the opposite side. 

The writing was beautiful. The writing itself–despite the lack of punctuation which I will describe in the cons–was intelligent and precise. McCarthy is adept at finding the perfect words to dress up mundane circumstances or highlight the fanciful aspects of a highly stressful situation.

Cons:

I have to mention the writing style. The lack of punctuation, especially with dialogue, continued to throw me, even near the end of the book. At times it was difficult to tell who was speaking, and it jarred the reading experience. 

The ending was too drawn out. Perhaps this was intentional, but (without spoilers) I could have seen the book ending a good 50 pages before it actually did. There just seemed no point after a specific major event. 

Overall, a good read and perfect for fans of McCarthy! I would say this is a bit easier to get into than The Road if you are looking to try him out, as this is definitely full of gore and adult content, but not quite as depressing and soul-suckingly sad. 

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