61 of 66 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful book--Nevil Shute's most famous if not his best,
This review is from: On the Beach (Mass Market Paperback)
After a nuclear war, radiation slowly drifts southwards, gradually killing off humanity there as it has already been killed off in the Northern Hemisphere. The end is less than a year away, yet Australians, and a few American naval refugees seek to maintain their daily lives in the face of doom, and even send an exploratory submarine northwards.
The fascination of the book is watching how people react to the inevitable doom. Many just go on plegmatically, a few pretend it will never happen. Most interesting is Moira Dawson, an Australian girl who had dreamed of visiting London and Paris, and now never will, and who seeks to live what little life is left to the fullest. She learns a lesson from a stillborn romance with Dwight Towers, the submarine commander who acts as if his wife and children are alive in Connecticut.
Perhaps the limitation of this book is that most of the characters simply accept their doom, presumably having come to terms with it before the start of the book. But more of a range of viewpoints might be welcome. Could you imagine the anger and frustration of teenagers under these circumstances, in the throes of adolescence without the promise of adulthood, knowing they will never have their independence.
As in most of Shute's later works, there are no villians. That is welcome when so many books have paper villains for us to vicariously hate.