Angie's Reviews > On the Beach

On the Beach by Nevil Shute
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Aug 15, 08

Read in July, 2008

*spoiler alert* Every character in this book dies. There. My sister-in-law gave me this book months ago, and I guess I avoided reading it for awhile because I wasn't sure I really wanted to read about an end to humanity on this planet that is so terrifyingly possible---different countries, different events than are likely now, but those bombs are out there, and we know it, and we live with it all the time. Still, my sister-in-law told me it wouldn't send me into a fit of depression, and she was right. I'm not saying by any means that this is a feel-good read; however, the book isn't full of constant despair. What I found truly interesting about Shute's vision of the end is that those left on Earth who are basically counting down the months until their demise basically go on as normally as possible. They carry on. They go ahead and work in their gardens; they go ahead and go to work, to restaurants, to clubs. Sure, as the end is right on top of them, everything shuts down, but until the very end, they go on living. Unlike most end-of-the-world type fiction I have encountered, there is no effort to save a cross section of humanity. I have always thought that would be a ridiculous thing to do. If we were faced with knowledge of our extinction, I kind of hope we wouldn't try to save our best and brightest or whatever in some big government effort. I think that might just create more panic and pain, really. I'm not saying by any means that I'd be thrilled about the end of life on this planet, but there is something oddly comforting in the idea of everyone going together. (Mind you, I don't want anyone to start dropping nukes.) This book forces the reader to think about the possibilities of the age in which we live, but it manages to do so in a way that isn't utterly torturous. And we need to think. Is there anything average Joe can do to prevent something like this? I don't know, but maybe we need to think about it. At the very least, On the Beach should make you think about what you truly value in this life and for what you are grateful.
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Annalisa I concur with your thoughts. I think depth in a book that makes you consider and wonder is more powerful than a save-the-day ending. And this had a powerful ending. I had to read this book in high school and I remember how slow the book was to get into, but the ending left a lasting impression on me. If I could have remembered it well enough I probably would have given it 4 stars too.


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