On the Beach by Nevil Shute
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
On The Beach, by Nevil Shute
Synopsis: They are the last generation, the innocent victims of an accidental war, living out their last days, making do with what they have, hoping for a miracle. As the deadly rain moves ever closer, the world as we know it winds toward an inevitable end...
In A Sentence: Incredibly depressing but very thought-provoking.
My Thoughts: If the world was coming to an end in a few months’ time, and there was nothing you could do to escape it, what would you do with your final days? That’s the question I kept asking myself as I read this story. This book was very thought-provoking in that way, leading your thoughts into a deep dark hole where you don’t want to go. It tackles a very difficult and uncomfortable issue: the end of mankind.
This story has absolutely no action: just a character-driven plot. There is no moral to the story, not really. There is only a hopeless situation that nobody asked for, nor is there a thing that can be done about it, except wait. The story shows you how everyone reacts to the news and how they choose to spend the remaining time they have; do they look for a solution, a way to survive? Do they drown themselves in drink? Or would they go about their lives in complete denial? (I don’t believe I’m giving away any spoilers here, all of this is pretty clear from the beginning).
I found the whole thing extremely bleak and depressing, even terrifying. What’s even worse is that the whole thing seems entirely plausible. It brings attention to the fact we are putting our trust in government leaders and officials who have complete control over an enormous amount of WMDs. If one foolish leader decides to use them, the rest will follow, and we will destroy ourselves in the process, maybe not exactly in the way the book implies, but it would certainly be very similar. Maybe there would be underground bunkers that could protect some people, but 99.9% of the world’s population could be eradicated very easily, it seems. I don’t know if anyone else finds that just a little bit scary, but I certainly do.
Some readers mentioned that certain scenarios were omitted that probably should have happened, but I think Nevil implied that they already did happen. The people had known about what was coming for over a year, we’re only just looking in during the last few months of it, and somehow that just makes the story even more gloomy than your usual novels.
I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone. It’s a well-written, well-executed story, but it’s also a very realistic, post-apocalyptic novel where no one survives. If you plan on reading this book be warned; abandon all hope, all ye who read this book, because you will not be a happy camper by the time the story’s over.
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