On the Beach Review

On the Beach by Nevil Shute is about as depressing of a novel as I can ever remember reading in a very long time. Set in a post-1960s apocalyptic world, a nuclear fallout has wiped the entire northern hemisphere of all life due to radiation. We as the readers get to follow in the footsteps of the last remaining navy captain of the United States along with a couple of other individuals in what would be a countdown of southern Australia’s own impending doom. I honestly thought I would have enjoyed the novel more than I actually did due to the subject matter. However, while I wouldn’t consider One the Beach a “slog” to get through, it can be very trying and requires a lot of patience even for someone like myself.

“Maybe we’ve been too silly to deserve a world like this.”

Dwight Towers

Although some readers might dislike the idea that the entire novel is set after the nuclear fallout, I personally didn’t have an issue with it. The novel only deals with the “why” of the nuclear fallout once or twice but other than that, it’s an afterthought. The population just has to accept that their time is literally running out and that no one will be able to survive the fallout once it reaches their location. The story is as bleak as it gets and the characters do nothing much to inject any joy. Some of the dialogue feels incessant and unnecessary. Toward the end, I did find myself skipping over certain parts and events.

On the Beach serves as a reminder that in a world war, the devastation and effect it has isn’t just limited to its participants. No nation or country should ever experience anything like what happened here in this novel.


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