I think we cheated a bit, sister, by discussing the book before we penned our thoughts, but it's our blog, so I suppose we can do whatever we want. I, too, found the story bleak and depressing, but since the setting is a nuclear winter after most of the population and all of the sunlight has been wiped out, I think that was a purposeful tone.
I've been thinking about this all day, and keeping in mind that very tone, I think it is an uplifting story.
*putting on Devil's Advocate hat, which looks kind of like a trucker cap*
The plot involves a father and son, trudging down a road, trying to survive. They have to guard against rain, cold, snow, starvation, and evil marauders. The father is self-sacrificing and full of pure love for the son, evidenced in the fact that he still goes on day after day; his son has become his purpose.
The son is hope for humanity. Forget the simple symbolism of "children are the future" and see that the son is not just hope for humankind; he has a tender heart despite never knowing the world before its barrenness, and yet he still feels sympathy, empathy, and compassion for others. He is hope for humanity--that goodness that exists within each of us. Like Jan, I will not give away plot points, but he implores his father to have pity even when others would not have pity on them. He has no reason to be so pure of heart, yet he is. I found that pretty uplifting. He is hope amid despair. He carries "the fire."
The author chooses to write in the third person--a great way to keep the reader just slightly detached, which helped ease some of the horror. And as Jana pointed out, helped to make me want to continue on in the book. I really did care for the characters, but I was able to remain somewhat aloof as necessary.
What bothered me more was the lack of apostrophes. Yes, I know, nit-picky, unless it was just a visual way of showing conventions don't matter? That most of the world is dead and therefore grammar is as well? I don't know. The language was beautiful, even if the vocabulary could be a bit obscure at times. I do know that after I finished the book I wanted to read it again. I didn't, though. Time for something a little less intense.
Originally I wanted to give it 3 stars, but upon reflection, I think it deserves 4 out of 5 stars as well.