Why did I read 'On The Beach'?

(80 Posts)

Saw a recommendation here and thought it sounds just up my street.

It's the saddest book I've ever read sad

I dreamt about it last night (was up to the last chapter) and haven't been able to get it out of my head today. I just finished it it. Waaaaaah

So sad sad

Awwww. Dp bought it for me for Christmas, so I will be re-reading it soon! Have you read 'A Town Like Alice?' Even better!

I've not. Is it also very sad? I need a few days to pull myself together before I tackle any more of his books!

There are awfully sad bits in it but overall, no, it's more uplifting.

Oh good! Because I don't think I could go through that again! And I love post apocalyptic stuff.
Don't think it helped that the weather today exactly matched the weather in the book grin


What are your favourite post-apocalypse books? My favourite style of novel, but too many of them are horribly badly written or stupid. My ideal novel would be a post apocalyptic zombie novel, written by Jane Austen, set in Victorian England and featuring Sherlock Holmes and Roland of Gilead! smile

RustyBear Mon 07-Jan-13 21:22:21

I think On the Beach is the only Neville Shute I haven't re-read, I found it too sad, - though Requiem for a Wren is pretty sad too. My favourites, apart from A Town Like Alice, are The Far Country, Pied Piper, The Chequer Board and Trustee from the Toolroom.

I didn't think much of 'The Far Country.' Haven't read the others - keep looking for them in the library but they never have them.

CoteDAzur Mon 07-Jan-13 21:31:17

Oh dear grin

I thought it was quite incredibly unrealistic, brain-dead, and dull, not to mention full of some of the stupidest characters I have ever come across in any book. Ever. Seriously.

Don't get me started (I already have smile) - waiting for fishing season although they will be dead before it starts, hoping a couple will marry & have children although they will all die in a few months, etc. Are they all morons? Why don't they go further south, make igloos in the South Pole, prepare thick clothes from animal skin, or whatever?

Herrena Mon 07-Jan-13 21:35:11

Sorry but I thought it was awful! A town like Alice was far better....

Manda472 Mon 07-Jan-13 21:35:18

I have this book on my wish list- love these types of books. If you search further down on this topic there's a whole thread on post apocalypse fiction

PixieHot Mon 07-Jan-13 21:36:10

I read this years and years ago, and cried my bloody eyes out grin.

I nearly posted to warn Kitten that you might have something to say about it, Cote - but you beat me to it! smile

StellaNova Mon 07-Jan-13 21:37:13

I was irrestibly drawn to stories of post-nuclear apocalypse when I was a teenager, including When The Wind Blows, Children of the Dust, The Chrysalids, and On the Beach, leading to a spate of horrific nightmares that lasted into my 20s. I also liked Empty World (disease); Day of the Triffids (triffids) and The Kraken Wakes (aliens as far as I remember) but it was the nuclear ones that caused the nightmares.

I really liked A Town Like Alice but DH couldn't get into it because of the old-fashioned attitudes to class, sex etc.

I can't really say my favourite post apocalypse book as revealing it to be (eventually) post apocalyptic is kind of a spoiler.

CoteDAzur Mon 07-Jan-13 21:42:06

Remus grin I think my words from the last time we talked about this book were "If they get into one more moronic conversation about whether trees are more beautiful in America or Australia, or whether they should plant this tree or that tree, I will start praying that some wild animals come and hurry them to their extinction."

specialsubject Mon 07-Jan-13 21:43:19

I read 'On the Beach' in one sitting on a train journey many years ago, and still re-read it occasionally. Dated, yes - but absorbing and harrowing.

the characters don't go to Antarctica, the book makes it clear there's no point!

'Town Like Alice' is just as disturbing in places (based on a true story) and also dated, but also very readable.

Noooooooo - Stella: please PM me! I don't mind a slight spoiler and I may have already read it anyway.

Cote - I felt that way about the appalling tedium that is 'Never Let Me Go.' Forget waiting for their organs, I just wanted somebody to come along and massacre all of the characters immediately. My gosh, I bloomin' hated that book. Stupid characters and unbelievably boring writer.

weegiemum Mon 07-Jan-13 21:46:00

Ooh I love post apocalyptic dystopias! I liked this book!

Have you read much Margaret Atwood. In this vein, you can't beat 'Oryx and Crake'

CoteDAzur Mon 07-Jan-13 21:51:20

I know they don't go to Antarctica, and no, the book doesn't make it clear that there is no point. The cloud would probably catch up with them there, too, but they would definitely live longer if they went there.

Humans have a survival instinct and will flee from a place in danger and go where they will be safe if only for another months. I don't know who these weirdos are, who faff around talking about which trees to plant and when fishing season should start instead of escaping imminent danger.

I love a bit of post-apocalyptic / dystopian fiction, but most of the stuff around at the moment is either zombie-related (not my cup of tea and has been done to death) or written for children.

I liked Dark Eden and currently reading The Flame Alphabet but finding it annoying for some reason.

Grew up with The Chrysalids and Empty World too!

CoteDAzur Mon 07-Jan-13 21:53:44

I agree with you re Never Let Me Go. I recently had to re-read it for book club, and it was actually worse than more non-sensical than I remembered.

On The Beach isn't any better. Both books feature a group of doomed idiots who can't be bothered to fight for survival.

I dunno though. I suppose some people might desperately cling on to what they know because they are so scared anyway, that even making what might be a sensible decision feels too much on top of what they are already trying to cope with? I'm thinking of 'When The Wind Blows' and the little old couple sitting in their house and waiting to die.

Or that even being completely irrational in one's insistence on the status quo is a way of trying to impose order (and rationality) on an irrational/out of control world? Maybe?

Am burbling - sorry! smile

Oryx And Crake not great imgo. I liked the follow up better. But Atwood is really annoying me now.

imgo? imho

I lost my post! I like The Stand and The Road lots. I've read a lot that havent stayed with me afterwards. Think I'm going to order Alas Babylon. First got to read blue rembered earth that dh bought me for Christmas.

Didn't get on with oryx and crake, not sure why.

Remember watching When the wind blows when I was a kid and terrifying myself!

mrlazysfishwife Mon 07-Jan-13 21:59:55

I've had the book on the shelf for years, but still haven't read it. I did, however, really enjoy ( if that's the right word?) the film. Anthony Perkins and Gregory Peck iirc.

Not heard of 'Blue Remembered Earth.' Off to google!

CoteDAzur Mon 07-Jan-13 22:01:00

Somehow, an island full of people in denial about imminent death doesn't make a good book, imho. You would expect at least some of them to have their act together and fight for their lives. At least parents of small children should have the instinct to effing do something to save the lives of their precious babies.

I think they didn't fight back because they had become like rabbits frozen in headlights.
They did drink quite a lot though!

The characters are very much like those portrayed in 1950s films, all chivalrous and stiff upper lipped.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 07-Jan-13 22:03:19

I read it at about 13 and skipped pretty much all but the bits about the family. I do remember that it's quite patronizing towards the mother though.

I hadn't either Remus, dh said it was in the guardian or something. It was quite a brave purchase for him!

MathairMahoney Mon 07-Jan-13 22:03:52

Strangely I came across On the Beach the other day in a pile of unread books at my parents' house - must give it a go! I loved Never Let Me Go thought it was the saddest book, especially the idea they are eventually kept in a sort of twilight half dead state to get the last possible use out of them - that really gave me the shivers! Love these threads for suggestions! smile

I've got 'Stranger In A Strange Land' on my to read pile.

bran Mon 07-Jan-13 22:07:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CoteDAzur Mon 07-Jan-13 22:07:04

All of them? Frozen like rabbits in the headlights? What a rubbish premise for a book - global apocalypse and the last humans on Earth are... frozen like bunnies in the headlights hmm

How about when they are talking about a couple and this woman says "I hope they get married and have children". When told how unlikely that is with, you know, certain death in September, she replies:

" Oh dear, I keep forgetting ."

Really?!? hmm

Colyngbourne Mon 07-Jan-13 22:16:17

Loved On the Beach; love Never Let Me Go even more - pretty much one of my favourite books. Very much like Oryx & Crake and The Year of the Flood even more so. Can't wait for the last in that trilogy.

I totally get the paralysis of characters in death-impending situations, the stupidity, yes, and the inescapable element of it. That was the point of Ishiguro - our boundness to a limited lifespan.

CoteDAzur Mon 07-Jan-13 22:18:50

I read Stranger In A Strange Land in my teens and loved it. Not sure if I would like it now, though. There are a few interesting ideas in it (at least for a bookish liberal-minded teenager) but it is likely to get your back up with its American right-wing "women's role is this and that" business.

CoteDAzur Mon 07-Jan-13 22:20:05

You see, Remus? People who love Never Let Me Go are the ones who love On The Beach smile

I know absolutely nothing about it, so will go in with a v open mind.

But I like 'On The Beach' and hate 'Never Let Me Go' - so ner! smile

CoteDAzur Mon 07-Jan-13 22:22:44

Just trying to point out that you are on the wrong side here grin

smile Have you read, 'A Town Like Alice?' If not, I think you and Kitten should read it at the same time and both report back.

Jajas Mon 07-Jan-13 22:26:30

I loved Never Let Me Go, not read On The Beach.

Blimey Cote you are scary when you don't like a book often sometimes grin!

There's a huge "Apocalyptic Fiction" thread here somewhere where we all had a right wallow in despair and disaster and On The Beach came up iirc. I love it, it's one of my favourite books of all time, and I just howl like a baby every time I read it blush

Jajas Mon 07-Jan-13 22:27:09

ps Cloud Atlas as a film???????

CoteDAzur Mon 07-Jan-13 22:28:46

Jajas grin I think my book club would agree with you.

Pmsl, Jajas. smile

CoteDAzur Mon 07-Jan-13 22:31:03

I watched Cloud Atlas and frankly wasn't that impressed despite some interesting ideas the directors have come up with. Their mix-matching of scenes from different stories together has made it impossible for anyone who hasn't read the book to understand the movie, imho.

Is Stranger in a Strange Land the Heinlein novel or is there another one?

CoteDAzur Mon 07-Jan-13 22:34:08

Remus - I just looked at A Town Like Alice and have to say that it sounds pretty dire. As in, awful.

To be honest, I don't think I will ever read another book by Nevil Shute.

CoteDAzur Mon 07-Jan-13 22:35:45

Yes, it's the Heinlein novel.

I think his Time Enough For Love is much better, but Stranger In A Stranger is a classic that has influenced modern culture so I'd say that everyone should read it once.

As Heinlein himself once said about "Stranger...."
"It is amazing what some authors will do for money"
If you judge RAH by that one work you miss him completely she says boldly I love him, adore him, worship him, have the mug, the T shirt, the tattoo, and a collection of everything he ever wrote including very bloody expensive pulp shorts in comics from the 30s and I still hate SIASL grin

I have all Heinleins books and short stories and would never have picked out Stranger in a Strange land as the groundbreaking one grin

<clasps missnevermind to bosom heartily> A Kindred Spirit grin how lovely grin

CoteDAzur Mon 07-Jan-13 22:42:04

Erm... I've read every book he has ever written, I think. Including the silly TIFL spin-offs where Lazarus Long goes back in time to make love to his mum etc.

I haven't read SIASL for 20 years or so and even wanted to be a "fair witness" for a short while until I realised that there is no such profession blush

I have fond memories of Friday, I Will Fear No Evil, and Job. But my favorite is still Time Enough For Love.

Sorry I now want to hear about Poms RAH tattoo!

I like all he ones about 'The Family' but my favourites are Friday and Number of he Beast.

CoteDAzur Mon 07-Jan-13 22:44:31

Mmmmm.... I feel like reading TEFL again. Wonder if it has a Kindle edition...

Ooooo Poms Bosooms.
Is this my close up of the Tat then. I'm a bit steamed up.

If you can't find it Cote just PM me. I have 83 of his books on the kindle

I couldn't go to the US for his centennial celebrations, so I made do with a mug and a Tshirt and a programme mail order, and they have his naval academy portrait on, so he looks all young and ernest, Space Cadet style, and
under his picture they have his name and dates and "I Answer for Him" and on the back they have the "Wheeler, Rivera.." roll call.
So I have the portrait and the initials and the date and "I Answer for Him" ah, concealed about my person shall we say blush on my leg

GrimmaTheNome Mon 07-Jan-13 22:48:56

I havent read On The Beach, but saw the film many years ago - must be ages, as a teen, and mum saying how during the Cuban Missile crisis they'd had to think what you'd actually do with your small children if the worst happened <shiver>

OOO OOO can you share/send/lend/give out his books on the Kindle miss ? <falls in love a bit, ignores DH and the DCs>

CoteDAzur Mon 07-Jan-13 22:50:38

I found it. EUR 4.90 on Amazon.fr smile

Reminiscing about old favourites, I will now have to read Dune and its 5 sequels, too.

OO Grimma - that would have been scary for her. I think it is "readers of a certain age" who get On The Beach and similar things, it's like the video for Two Tribes that they banned in the 80s. You were either there and Get It, or you're too young and it's just meaningless...

CoteDAzur Mon 07-Jan-13 22:52:22

Pom - You really have a Heinlein tattoo on your leg? shock

I thought you were joking. Now I'm really glad that there were no tattoo parlors where I lived around the time I was really into Heinlein grin

Do you have a list of what is required Pom?

My Tattoo is of an Anne McCaffrey baby golden dragon not long hatched.

I have lots of tattoos all over me grin wink including Kipling and Tennyson quotes (so as not to be chavvy when my 3/4 length linen trews expose them of course grin )
Everything Miss I haven't ANY of his on the Kindle at all <weeps at the prospect and comes over all unnecessary>

BadWickedWorld Mon 07-Jan-13 22:59:16

Death of grass is pretty good also, quite a lot racist and sexist, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

I have just read Death of Grass. The language made it really obvious how old the story was.
Good story all the same.

Here you go Miss I wrote this one a while ago grin
It's a wee quiz about AM's dragons, you don't need to sign in or anything at all, just click to play as a guest. There's nothing needed, no email or anything smile

10 out of 10.
grin. I claim my prize.

Autumnalis Mon 07-Jan-13 23:10:15

I've just read Death of Grass. I received it as a Cmas present from my BIL, he knew I'd liked On The Beach. I still agree with a lot of Cote's posts about it. I said to myself I'd never read another Nevil Shute again. I wondered when reading it if the style was a metaphor, specially chosen. But then I read more about his other books too and I gather that that's all there is to it, no further layers or depths than what is in the text.

<Cheers Wildly> grin <Sends virtual bronze fire lizard to deliver virtual parcel of virtual chocolate> grin

Thank God for Virtual chocolate, Diet started today.

Will PM you shortly Pom. Am just moving to the PC

zingally Mon 14-Jan-13 18:56:30

I read 'On The Beach' a few years ago. It haunted me! Couldn't get it out of my head for weeks!

CoteDAzur Mon 14-Jan-13 20:40:45

Me, too. I couldn't help thinking over and over - "Why oh why did I read this crap nonsense?" wink

prettydaisies Tue 22-Jan-13 21:09:26

This was one of my set texts for GCSE. I reread it some years later. I don't think I'd choose to read it again.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now