Book Review: On the Beach (Shute)

Holy crapples, I read a book! It’s been so long, right? I just checked and my last book review of a book from my “200 Books” list was in 2016.


But finally, thanks to having my first semester off since 2017, I had a chance to read a book!
(This was also a book I checked out from the U of C library back in like December last year and I still have it because the library’s been closed since March due to COVID, so…)


Have I read this before: Yes! I read this during my first year at UI, I think. I remember reading it on a band bus as we drove somewhere. Utah? Maybe.

Review: as a very brief summary of what this book is about, it is set in a period after there has been major nuclear war in the northern hemisphere of the world. Everyone in the north is dead (or slowly dying) and the book is from the perspective of several people living in Australia as they wait for the nuclear fallout to reach the southern hemisphere and kill them, too. It’s a very haunting book and does a really good job of showing how these people are still trying to live “normally” despite the fact that they all know they’re going to die very soon. I remember being very impacted by this book when I first read it; it’s stuck with me ever since and was just as good as I remember it being.

Favorite part: There are a few times where the characters talk about what’s eventually going to happen to them (death from radiation) but say that they can’t stop acting like things are “normal.”

“I went to Wilson’s today and bought a hundred daffodils,” she (Mary) said. … “I’m going to put them in that corner by the wall, where Peter took out the tree. It’s sheltered there. But I suppose if we’re all going to die that’s silly.”

(This is her friend, Moira) “Well, of course it’s sensible to put them in. You’ll see them anyway, and you’ll sort of feel you’ve done something.”
Mary looked at her gratefully. “Well, that’s what I think. I mean, I couldn’t bear to—to just stop doing things and do nothing. You might as well die now and get it over.”
Moira nodded. “If what they say is right, we’re none of us going to have time to do all that we planned to do. But we can keep on doing it as long as we can.”

And there’s a scene where they’re talking about going fishing but the season hasn’t opened yet, but even though they know they’ll be dead in a few weeks, they want to obey the law and not fish until the season has technically started.

It’s so very…human, I think.

Rating: 7/10

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