Book Review | On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Summary: On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac’s years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, “a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” As “Sal Paradise” and “Dean Moriarty,” the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience.

Final Rating: ★★☆☆☆

On the RoadI went into this book with high expectations, unfortunately. I enjoy books about road-trips and friendship, but this was a huge let-down for me. It’s a shame, because I really wanted to like this book. Oh well.

Plot: I felt that the plot was the major thing that brought down this book. There wasn’t a cohesive story, no climax, no set end or introduction. The subplots were just scattered all over the pages, with no glue to hold them together. The premise sounded interesting- Sal Paradise, a young man traveling through America, meeting people who gave life to his journey. Yes, I’m into this, but nothing actually happened during this book. 1.5/5

Characters: The characters were kind of disappointing too, even though they had immense potential. Dean Moriarty was the typical bad-boy, the playboy, the troublemaker, every parent’s worst nightmare, and usually I enjoy reading about such characters and their development. I didn’t enjoy reading about Dean Moriarty. I was pissed off at his treatment of the protagonist, his treatment of the women in his life, and how flat of a character he was. I’d imagine basing characters off real-life people would be easy, but Kerouac fails at this. Or maybe he deliberately made the characters two-dimensional, but I can’t imagine why that would be, for the life of me. The side-characters were scattered ALL over the place. There was barely any plot, and the plot that existed was full of characters I didn’t care about. The protagonist was painfully dull and mundane. I still have no idea what he was like, because he was so two-dimensional and flat. 1.5/5

Setting: Again, like I said, I usually enjoy road-trip settings so that was the plus-point for me, although I do wish that the author had developed the story within the several settings and places we see. They just seemed to be THERE, rather than something to facilitate the novel with. But hey whatever, traveling America, seeing things, noticing things… I guess that’s okay. 2.5/5

Writing Style: See what bothers me the most about this book is the fact that Jack Kerouac is SUCH a good writer. His simplicity, his economical use of words, his matter-of-fact tone is something I always appreciate in an author. This is a highly subjective point, because I usually don’t like fluffy, flowery, overpowering prose. Kerouac’s style of writing is something I can read all day, every day. BUT. The drawback of this writing style is that it suits certain stories, and for others, it doesn’t. For this particular novel, it didn’t work for me. Which is a shame. I might pick up another novel by Jack Kerouac because of how skilled his sentence structure and ambience of the novel was, even though I didn’t like this book much. 4/5

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