Who wrote this book and when?
Nevil Shute published this book in 1957.
Has there been a film version?
Yes – one in 1959 starring Gregory Peck, and a TV version in 2000.
Who are the important characters?
Peter Holmes – an Australian naval officer
Dwight Towers – an American submarine captain struggling with the loss of his family while stuck in Australia
Moira Davidson – a young Australian woman who befriends Captain Towers
Mary Holmes – Peter’s wife, she’s naive and in denial
John Osborne – an Australian scientist with a penchant for fast cars
What’s it about?
This book is about the end of humanity. No, seriously. Pretty much from the first pages you’re told the world is going to end and everyone is going to die in approximately six months. It’s set in Australia in one of the southern cities and radiation fallout is slowly spreading southward from the equator area. The book chronicles the lives of several people who are trying to come to terms with impending death.
Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
Because it’s so startling, depressing, and blunt.
Do you recommend I read this book?
Not really. I felt sad for a whole day after reading it.
How did this book make your list?
I’d heard it was depressing but interesting and I wanted to read it before I watched the movie.
Has it won any awards?
“He paused, thinking of the flowering trees that he had seen on shore through the periscope, cascaras and flame trees, the palms standing in the sunlight. ‘Maybe we’ve been too silly to deserve a world like this,’ he said.” – p 80
The nuclear fallout spreading in this book is scientifically impossible.
Oh man was this book depressing. I knew everyone was going to die at the end and I knew there was no hope…I could only read a few pages at a time. And yet – I liked the book. I enjoyed how Shute showed the different reactions of people to their impending doom – some made a point to enjoy everything that was limited to them for health reasons, some tried to use up all the good alcohol so it wouldn’t go to waste, some did things they were always afraid of doing or couldn’t afford to do, some of them (most of them) were simply in denial and continued to make plans for the future. I think that character that made me the most sad was the character of the toddler, Jennifer. She didn’t even know what was going on, yet her parents still had to take care of her and made a point to plan for her future despite the fact that she was going to die in mere months along with everyone else. This novel is truly terrifying when you think we could easily bomb ourselves all to crap with poor decision making and knee-jerk reactions. However, I’m pretty sure we would die fairly quickly, instead of slowly over two years.