On the Beach

On the Beach

by Nevil Shute


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Nevil Shute’s most powerful novel—a bestseller for decades after its 1957 publication—is an unforgettable vision of a post-apocalyptic world.

After a nuclear World War III has destroyed most of the globe, the few remaining survivors in southern Australia await the radioactive cloud that is heading their way and bringing certain death to everyone in its path. Among them is an American submarine captain struggling to resist the knowledge that his wife and children in the United States must be dead. Then a faint Morse code signal is picked up, transmitting from somewhere near Seattle, and Captain Towers must lead his submarine crew on a bleak tour of the ruined world in a desperate search for signs of life. Both terrifying and intensely moving, On the Beach is a remarkably convincing portrait of how ordinary people might face the most unimaginable nightmare.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781548146320
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 06/19/2017
Pages: 466
Sales rank: 615,998
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Nevil Shute Norway was born in 1899 in Ealing, London. He studied Engineering Science at Balliol College, Oxford. Following his childhood passion, he entered the fledgling aircraft industry as an aeronautical engineer working to develop airships and, later, airplanes. In his spare time he began writing and he published his first novel, Marazan, in 1926, using the name Nevil Shute to protect his engineering career. In 1931 he married Frances Mary Heaton and they had two daughters. During the Second World War he joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve where he worked on developing secret weapons. After the war he continued to write and settled in Australia where he lived until his death in 1960. His most celebrated novels include Pied Piper (1942), A Town Like Alice (1950), and On the Beach (1957).

Read an Excerpt


Lieutenant-Commander Peter Holmes of the Royal Australian Navy woke soon after dawn. He lay drowsily for a while, lulled by the warm comfort of Mary sleeping beside him, watching the first light of the Australian sun upon the cretonne curtains of their room. He knew from the sun's rays that it was about five o'clock: very soon the light would wake his baby daughter Jennifer in her cot, and then they would have to get up and start doing things. No need to start before that happened; he could lie a little longer.

He woke happy, and it was some time before his conscious senses realised and pinned down the origin of this happiness. It was not Christmas, because that was over. He had illuminated the little fir tree in their garden with a string of coloured lights with a long lead to the plug beside the fireplace in the lounge, a small replica of the great illuminated tree a mile away outside the Town Hall of Falmouth. They had had a barbecue in the garden on the evening of Christmas Day, with a few friends. Christmas was over, and this-his mind turned over slowly-this must be Thursday the 27th. As he lay in bed the sunburn on his back was still a little sore from their day on the beach yesterday, and from sailing in the race.. He would do well to keep his shirt on today. And then, as consciousness came fully to him, he realised that of course he would keep his shirt on today. He had a date at eleven o'clock in the Second Naval Member's office, in the Navy Department up in Melbourne. It meant a new appointment, his first work for five months. It could even mean a seagoing job if he were very lucky, and he ached for a ship again.

It meant work, anyway. The thought of it had made him happy when he went to sleep, and his happiness had lasted through the night. He had had no appointment since he had been promoted lieutenant-commander in August and in the circumstances of the time he had almost given up hope of ever working again. The Navy Department, however, had maintained him on full pay throughout these months, and he was grateful to them.

The baby stirred, and started chuntering and making little whimpering noises. The naval officer reached out and turned the switch of the electric kettle on the tray of tea things and baby food beside the bed, and Mary stirred beside him. She asked the time, and he told her. Then he kissed her, and said, "It's a lovely morning again."

She sat up, brushing back her hair. "I got so burned yesterday. I put some calamine stuff on Jennifer last night, but I really don't think she ought to go down to the beach again today." Then she, too, recollected. "Oh Peter, it's today you're going up to Melbourne, isn't it?"

He nodded. "I should stay at home, have a day in the shade."

"I think I will."

He got up and went to the bathroom. When he came back Mary was up, too; the baby was sitting on her pot and Mary was drawing a comb through her hair before the glass. He sat down on the edge of the bed in a horizontal beam of sunlight, and made the tea.

She said, "It's going to be very hot in Melbourne today, Peter. I thought we might go down to the club about four, and you join us there for a swim. I could take the trailer and your bathers."

They had a small car in the garage, but since the short war had ended a year previously it remained unused. However, Peter Holmes was an ingenious man and good with tools, and he had contrived a tolerable substitute. Both Mary and he had bicycles. He had built a small two-wheeled trailer using the front wheels of two motor bicycles, and he had contrived a trailer hitch on both Mary's bicycle and his own so that either could pull this thing, which served them as a perambulator and a general goods carrier. Their chief trouble was the long hill up from Falmouth.

He nodded. "That's not a bad idea. I'll take my bike and leave it at the station."

"What train have you got to catch?"

"The nine-five." He sipped his tea and glanced at his watch. "I'll go and get the milk as soon as I've drunk this."

He put on a pair of shorts and a singlet and went out. He lived in the ground floor flat of an old house upon the hill above the town that had been divided into apartments; he had the garage and a good part of the garden in his share of the property. There was a verandah, and here he kept the bicycles and the trailer. It would have been logical to park the car under the trees and use the garage, but he could not bring himself to do that. The little Morris was the first car he had ever owned, and he had courted Mary in it. They had been married in 1961 six months before the war, before he sailed in H.M.A.S. Anzac for what they thought would be indefinite separation. The short, bewildering war had followed, the war of which no history had been written or ever would be written now, that had flared all round the northern hemisphere and had died away with the last seismic record of explosion on the thirty-seventh day. At the end of the third month he had returned to Williamstown in Anzac on the last of her fuel oil while the statesmen of the southern hemisphere gathered in conference at Wellington in New Zealand to compare notes and assess the new conditions; had returned to Falmouth to his Mary and his Morris Minor car. The car had three gallons in the tank; he used that unheeding, and another five that he bought at a pump, before it dawned upon Australians that all oil came from the northern hemisphere.

He pulled the trailer and his bicycle down from the verandah on to the lawn and fitted the trailer hitch; then he mounted and rode off. He had four miles to go to fetch the milk and cream, for the transport shortage now prevented all collections from the farms in his district and they had learned to make their own butter in the Mixmaster. He rode off down the road in the warm morning sunlight, the empty billies rattling in the trailer at his back, happy in the thought of work before him.

There was very little traffic on the road. He passed one vehicle that once had been a car, the engine removed and the windscreen knocked out, drawn by an Angus bullock. He passed two riders upon horses, going carefully upon the gravel verge to the road beside the bitumen surface. He did not want one; they were scarce and delicate creatures that changed hands for a thousand pounds or more, but he had sometimes thought about a bullock for Mary. He could convert the Morris easily enough, though it would break his heart to do so.

He reached the farm in half an hour, and went straight to the milking shed. He knew the farmer well, a slow speaking, tall, lean man who walked with a limp from the Second World War. He found him in the separator room, where the milk flowed into one churn and the cream into another in a low murmur of sound from the electric motor that drove the machine. "Morning, Mr. Paul," said the naval officer. "How are you today?"

"Good, Mr. Holmes." The farmer took the milk billy from him and filled it at the vat. "Everything all right with you?"

"Fine. I've got to go up to Melbourne, to the Navy Department. I think they've got a job for me at last."

"Ah," said the farmer, "that'll be good. Kind of wearisome, waiting around, I'd say."

Peter nodded. "It's going to complicate things a bit if it's a seagoing job. Mary'll be coming for the milk, though, twice a week. She'll bring the money, just the same."

The farmer said, "You don't have to worry about the money till you come back, anyway. I've got more milk than the pigs will take even now, dry as it is. Put twenty gallons in the creek last night-can't get it away. Suppose I ought to raise more pigs, but then it doesn't seem worth while. It's hard to say what to do ..." He stood in silence for a minute, and then he said, "Going to be kind of awkward for the wife, coming over here. What's she going to do with Jennifer?"

"She'll probably bring her over with her, in the trailer."

"Kind of awkward for her, that." The farmer walked to the alley of the milking shed and stood in the warm sunlight, looking the bicycle and trailer over. "That's a good trailer," he said. "As good a little trailer as I ever saw. Made it yourself, didn't you?"

"That's right."

"Where did you get the wheels, if I may ask?"

"They're motor bike wheels. I got them in Elizabeth Street."

"Think you could get a pair for me?"

"I could try," Peter said. "I think there may be some of them about still. They're better than the little wheels they tow more easily." The farmer nodded. "They may be a bit scarce now. People seem to be hanging on to motor bikes."

"I was saying to the wife," the farmer remarked slowly, "if I had a little trailer like that I could make it like a chair for her, put on behind the push bike and take her into Falmouth, shopping. It's mighty lonely for a woman in a place like this, these days," he explained. "Not like it was before the war, when she could take the car and get into town in twenty minutes. The bullock cart takes three and a half hours, and three and a half hours back; that's seven hours for traveling alone. She did try to learn to ride a bike but she'll never make a go of it, not at her age and another baby on the way. I wouldn't want her to try. But if I had a little trailer like you've got I could take her into Falmouth twice a week, and take the milk and cream along to Mrs. Holmes at the same time." He paused. "I'd like to be able to do that for the wife," he remarked. "After all, from what they say on the wireless, there's not so long to go."

The naval officer nodded. "I'll scout around a bit today and see what I can find. You don't mind what they cost?"

The farmer shook his head. "So long as they're good wheels, to give no trouble. Good tyres, that's the main thing-last the time out. Like those you've got."

The officer nodded. "I'll have a look for some today."

"Taking you a good bit out of your way."

"I can slip up there by tram. It won't be any trouble. Thank God for the brown coal."

The farmer turned to where the separator was still running. "That's right. We'd be in a pretty mess but for the electricity." He slipped an empty churn into the stream of skim milk deftly and pulled the full churn away_ "Tell me, Mr. Holmes," he said. "Don't they use big digging machines to get the coal? Like bulldozers, and things like that?" The officer nodded. "Well, where do they get the oil to run those things ?"

"I asked about that once," Peter said. "They distil it on the spot, out of the brown coal. It costs about two pounds a gallon."

"You don't say!" The farmer stood in thought. "I was thinking may be if they could do that for themselves, they might do some for us. But at that price, it wouldn't hardly be practical ..."

Peter took the milk and cream billies, put them in the trailer, and set off for home. It was six-thirty when he got back. He had a shower and dressed in the uniform he had so seldom worn since his promotion, accelerated his breakfast, and rode his bicycle down the hill to catch the 8. 15 in order that he might explore the motor dealers for the wheels before his appointment.

He left his bicycle at the garage that had serviced his small car in bygone days. It serviced no cars now. Horses stood stabled where the cars had been, the horses of the business men who lived outside the town, who now rode in in jodhpurs and plastic coats to stable their horses while they commuted up to town in the electric train. The petrol pumps served them as hitching posts. In the evening they would come down on the train, saddle their horses, strap the attache case to the saddle, and ride home again. The tempo of business life was slowing down and this was a help to them; the 5.3 express train from the city had been cancelled and a 4. I 7 put on to replace it.

Peter Holmes travelled to the city immersed in speculations about his new appointment, for the paper famine had closed down all the daily newspapers and news now came by radio alone. The Royal Australian Navy was a very small fleet now. Seven small ships had been converted from oil burners to most unsatisfactory coal burners at great cost and effort; an attempt to convert the aircraft carrier Melbourne had been suspended when it proved that she would be too slow to allow the aircraft to land on with safety except in the strongest wind. Moreover, stocks of aviation fuel had to be husbanded so carefully that training programmes had been reduced to virtually nil, so that it now seemed inexpedient to carry on the Fleet Air Arm at all. He had not heard of any changes in the officers of the seven minesweepers and frigates that remained in commission. It might be that somebody was sick and had to be replaced, or it might be that they had decided to rotate employed officers with the unemployed to keep up seagoing experience. More probably it meant a posting to some dreary job on shore, an office job in the Barracks or doing something with the stores at some disconsolate, deserted place like Flinders Naval Depot. He would be deeply disappointed if he did not get to sea, and yet he knew it would be better for him so. On shore he could look after Mary and the baby as he had been doing, and there was now not so long to go.

He got to the city in about an hour and went out of the station to get upon the tram. It rattled unobstructed through streets innocent of other vehicles and took him quickly to the motor dealing district. Most of the shops here were closed or taken over by the few that remained open, the windows still encumbered with the useless stock. He shopped around here for a time, searching for two light wheels in good condition that would make a pair, and finally bought wheels of the same size from two makes of motor cycle, which would make complications with the axle that could be got over by the one mechanic still left in his garage.

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On the Beach 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 109 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Those who have read this book and find it "boring" have managed to miss the whole point and flavour of the book. This was not written as an instant gratification, blood and guts flying around thriller or action piece. It was written as a warning. It was written from the perspective of the most likey survivors of such an appalling scenaro. Those deep under water, deep in a cave under ground, those in the farthest reaches from the initial blasts and shockwaves would be the survivors.......for a time...anyway. A principled military commander would behave as the main male character did. Australians, as I have known them, would for the most part behave as if life were going on as normal, and be polite, cheeky, playful, generous and caring of each other until it was their time, as individals to face and accept the innevitable. A world wide nuclear event isnt going to be an exciting, suspence filled thriller. Its going to be a horror with any survivors in post traumatic shock and with little else to do except keep on keeping on, until its time to decide whether to quietly crawl off and die alone, or quietly lie down to die with the people and things around them that they love the most, or to go out singing and fishing at their favorite fishing hole. I, for one, have understood the potential of a scenario such as that described by the author because I am, personally, a military Veteran; the great great, great, etc...grandaughter of Veterans, the daughter, sister and wife of Veterans, and the mother of a multiple deployment, currently serving soldier. So if you are looking for cheap thrills and vicarious heroics and action.........dont read this. If you want something that provokes thoughtfulness about how you hope you will behave in a post nuclear situation that leaves you only a little time left to make peace with your life, your loves, yourself and your God.......then this book will not "bore". It might actually save that most important part of you and allow you to behave with kindness, compassion and dignity in some hopeless and helpless situation you may find yourself enduring someday.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel is a timeless classic. I first read it in high school 40 years ago and I just knew I had to read it again. I discovered that the story is as relevant today as it was then. My kids are in their 20s and I am pleased to say that they were as enthralled with it as I was 40 years ago.
Bri-man More than 1 year ago
The headline says it all. On the Beach is a chilling example of what could happen to the inhabitants of our planet, if the outbreak of a global nuclear war occurs. On The Beach is one of those books that is a page turner, but also one that you have to put down every so often before reaching the end, because it's so heartwrenching. The story follows the last days of mankind, and the months leading to them. 37 days of nuclear war have wiped out all life in the northern hemisphere, and while it appears that Australia, South America, and South Africa have gotten a freepass from the total destruction that rained down upon the rest of the world, their deaths will come in months from the radioactive fallout that is steadily coming their way. The main focus of On the Beach is on a few different charecters. One is US Navy Captain Dwight Towers, who lost his family in America during the war. They either died in the blast (if fortunate) or died of radiation sickness, and he must come to grips with them being dead. The other is Moira Davidson, a 24 year old who is drawn to Capt. Towers and dealing with the fact that with death coming via radiation, she will never get to do the things she wanted in life. There is also a scientist who uses the time he has left to live on the edge so to speak, and finally we come to the most painful story in the book, Peter, and Mary Holmes. They are a young couple with a baby (possibly born or conceived during the war) who must cope with the fact that they must poison their child, and kill her to spare her from the painful death that is radiation sickness. While Nevil Shute may have had some trouble constructing dialougue, and I find people's reaction to impending doom a tad too calm for the overall direness of their situation, he did convey a message that we are all living on borrowed time, and we have choices when it comes to facing death. As I said in the headline, On the Beach should be required reading for anyone, whether it be leaders of nations that have nuclear weapons, or the military personel who initiate launch sequences.
ImaBookey More than 1 year ago
You start reading "On The Beach" and from the first page, realize that you are going to have a different relationship with this book. It was written in 1957 and yes, there was a movie made, but the writing and story telling is as pertinent today as ever. The grace of the characters, the love of the time and the integrity of decisions as each person faced the end makes this a keeper for my library. To consider that it could all come to an end, but have the sense of it's the beginning ... what a gift.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book On the Beach by Nevil Shute is a great book for anyone to read. I do not really like to read fictional story, but the connection between the characters in this book do not let me to put it away. I like the title of this book because every thing in this book happens on the beach and ocean. I am recommending to anyone to read this book because it will make you to think about how you will spend the last day of your life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book On the Beach by Nevil Shute is a great book for anyone to read. I¿m not a big reader but this book really got my attention quick. This book was hard to put down. I just couldn't wait to find out the ending. I didn't expect the outcome. I liked how the characters in this book didn¿t know if they were going to live or die. The book was teaching you a lesson to enjoy life because you don¿t know when the world is going to end. If you like mysteries and you want a book that keeps you wondering you should look into reading this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a 13 year old girl who has read about WW2 all her life. I believe this book is one of the greatest "It could have happened books ever written".If you love that type of book look no further and then check out the movie which has Eva Gardener and Gregory Peck,two phenomenal actors!:)
wookietim More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most depressing books you will ever read. Seriously, it makes "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy look like happy fun time. But at the same time it is incredibly well written and one of those books that goes down in only one sitting. Well worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this while on an actual submarine patrol in the North Atlantic in the 70's. It is a powerful book reminding us that there are no winners in a nuclear war, thank goodness it never became reality. Yes, my fellow shipmates thought I was nuts to read such a book while underway, perhaps they were right?
CGS_MI More than 1 year ago
This is a book that we need to make sure our children appreciate. The one best word I can use to describe it is "haunting". When reading it, I constantly find myself thinking along the lines of the characters - "No need to do this, since there's little time left". This is a fantastic book to show the next generation what it was like to live with the potential of a superpower nuclear war, even if the science is dated. One of my all-time favorites - I wish the ebook version was priced more reasonably, but for now I'll be satisfied with my 1957 (bought used) original.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in one sitting. i couldnt leave it alone. the story of the survivors of WWIII is touching and painful. if you want to know what the last days are really going to be like, here it is
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is truly amazing book to read. The author really describes each character and what they are like. He also lets you know what is going on in the story, but you have to figure it out yourself. I would reccomend anyone to go out and read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished this- as this was voted one of the top ten scariest books written.. at first it did not scare me- but by the end I had many sleepless nights and dreams of radiation sickness! SCARY!! It is scary- because the way the world is going in its crazy direction, may one day leave all to consider the time we have till we open the red box with our loved ones at hand.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Louise obviously has never been in the military, or sat through hours of NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) warfare training. There is probably not a whole lot of background in sociology, either, based on her comments. I was in the military and I did take numerous Sociology courses in school. The really awsome and awful part of this book is how it DOES realistically portray one scenario of what COULD be the fate of the world in the event of an all out nuclear war. Not every corner of the earth will be scorched and mangled. But everyone will suffer. Of the survivors, those that turn to anarchy and complete all out emotional and spiritual insanity are relatively few, compared to those that once the shock of what we did to ourselves settles in, begin to make peace with what world and time they have left. You bet, the world of science that is still alive is going to be fighting tooth, claw and nail to try to find a quick solution to the radiation - and to date, there is none. And many WILL kill themselves, either before, or when suicide medication is provided. Many, like me, will not, regardless of how sick we get because to us suicide is not the answer. Even under those circumstances. Though we will not judge those that choose it. Because we'll WANT to choose it too. At the time this book was written, we didn't have all the technology. We didn't have a Neutron Bomb. Who needs radiation when you have a bomb that simply dissolves all organic matter. People should never underestimate the power of the human to destroy ourselves, or the power of our spirit to rise beyond our stupidity, even if its only for a couple of weeks or months. This world will not end. Those of us who are Christians believe this. Many people do believe that the world intself will cease to exist. However we believe, we all agree that the world, AS WE KNOW IT, will end. Because of war, most likely, whether accidental, or on purpose. Everyone, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buddist, Indian - all of our religious teachings know this. Even the Atheist, Agnostic and Satanist knows it. Fortunately for you and for me, it hasn't happened. Yet. So the writer didn't have the frame of reference of a world gone entirely insane. However, from the science and social standpoint - I don't think this dude was too far off the mark.
Anonymous 23 days ago
memorable reading. Too close to being believable.
Anonymous 7 months ago
nicole0112 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book by Nevil Shute was written at the height of the cold war and it's still meaningful today. In fact, it's so relevant that it should be required reading for anyone in power, actually it should probably be required reading for everyone on the planet. period.On the Beach is set in Australia, and it becomes clear quite quickly that something horrible has happened. And that horrible thing is a full out nuclear war in the northern hemisphere of the Earth. Those left in the southern hemisphere are either dead or waiting to meet their end from the slow drift of radiation heading their way. The story follows several characters through to their respective ends: Dwight, a submariner from the US, Moira, a young woman who is bitter about her life being cut short, a young couple with a baby and a scientist who chooses to spend his last few months racing a car he probably shouldn't be driving. The way that the characters choose to live their lives, even after being handed a death sentence, provides you with a little faith in the general goodness of human nature. The dignity with which they carry themselves is a nice respite on the generally inevitable bad behavior that usually takes place in post apocalyptic novels They don't start rioting and destroying things around them, they just...go on. You get to know the characters and that's what makes the ending heartbreaking, their realness really drives home that this kind of thing could happen to normal people if we aren't careful. If this book doesn't affect you, well, there's something wrong with you.Shute's style in this book is a little wonky and some of the prose seems a little stilted. Since he wrote it in the 50's there are some words that don't ring true today, but that doesn't detract from the book at all. I watched the movie right after I read the book because I was so enamored with it, but I ended up being disappointed with it because it didn't carry the same impact. Read the book, it makes you want to be a little bit kinder to everyone in the world
pokarekareana on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A gloomy picture of the final weeks of human life after a global nuclear catastrophe; as someone who is barely old enough to remember the Cold War, I found it fascinating to read about this situation of which people at the time must have been genuinely afraid. Shute's writing is enthralling, his attention to detail a delight to read. The characters are well-formed and the plot is intriguing. I wouldn't recommend this book as light bedtime reading, but it is definitely worth a read.
DebbieMcCauley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is set in the aftermath of an all-out nuclear war that has wiped out the Northern Hemisphere. Months later the winds currents are slowly carrying clouds of deadly radioactive fallout down into the Southern Hemisphere, including Australia where this book is based. From the very start the reader knows that every character in the book is going to die of radiation sickness, and soon. This story is mainly about how each of the characters faces this reality. From American submarine commander Dwight Towers who can¿t accept that his wife and child are already dead; bitter country girl Moira Davidson who drinks heavily; Peter Holmes who along with his wife and baby are planning a garden; and scientist Julian Osborne who lives out his dream, buying a racing car which he hurtles around the tracks.Although written in 1957 this is still an incredibly powerful book with issues that are still relevant today. Despair permeates the story and after the heartbreaking end, the reader is left wondering what they would do in the same position; live out their dreams, prepare their family, or just carry on with the mundane day to day tasks of the living.
melydia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In 1961, there was a brief but devastating nuclear war, resulting in the complete annihilation of the northern hemisphere. This is the story of Australians during the final nine months, while they wait for the deadly radiation to slowly make its way southward, finally enveloping the entire globe. Yes, it's a very sad story. Heartbreaking. But beautifully and sympathetically written, detailing the different ways people cope with the end of everything. Though difficult to get through at times, it's definitely a story that will stay with me for a long time.
BookMarkMe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A book I have returned to throughout my life. The sadness envelops me as if wrapped in a comforting blanket
biran on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dated definitely (especially the women and also the attitude to the military) and many of the comments by other readers are valid, . It is bleak and without hope. It is also oddly inactive - most of the "action" - the trips in the submarine to the irradiated areas - are brief and perfunctory while most of the novel is taken up in the small interactions of the 5 main characters. But I was genuinely moved by this when I was not expecting to be, the last 100 pages or so when all hope is gone being especially poignant.
crazybatcow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Maybe I just don't like "classic" apocalyptic stories? There is way too much dialogue... the entire story seems to be told via a series of conversations. It's not that the dialogue doesn't tell the story (it has to 'cause that's the only story-telling in the book), but that the characters, for the most part, are just different names attached to the same "voice"... even the main woman character (not that she's particularly "main") is just a drinking version of the main male character, Most of the characters are in this book only because the story is told via dialogue which, of course, requires that there are people who talk. And because a woman can't be on a submarine in this era, the author created some male characters to go on the sub, and some female ones to stay home and cook and raise babies, etc, but, really, they all have the same point of view/opinion/understanding, except for the obvious "make this character have the opposite point of view so the 2 characters can argue and put in some tension"...bah... it's just not very interesting.
esoteric on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A tepid little piece of post-apocalyptic fiction. The bland characters and bland prose might not be so bad if Shute's last-days take on Southern Australia didn't seem like such a painful stretch. If there were six months left until a cloud of lethal radiation completely wiped out human life on earth, I don't think I'd be heading to work anymore! Shute's premise had the potential to be as horrifying as Camus' The Plague, perhaps more so given the near-absolute certainty of the outcome. Perhaps the author didn't want to retread that idea? Even then, the result hardly does justice to such a frightening scenario.
flissp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What can I say about this book?The story follows five central characters - a massive nuclear war has taken place, destroying the Northern hemisphere. The radioactive fallout from the war will soon wipe out the rest of humanity in the Southern hemisphere.Not a cheery book you would think. But strangely, despite the hugely upsetting nature of the story, I actually found this to be quite a positive read. So many apocalyptic novels show the crumble of society into destructive confusion, the worst flaws of humanity taking over. There's certainly some of that here, but it's in the background - mostly the characters try to get on with their lives as best they can, making the best of a terrible situation, despite their inevitable fate. Which, of course, makes it all the more heart-breaking...