Thursday, 29 October 2015

Alistair MacLean best novels

There are 4 books by Alistair MacLean that I remember as EXTREMELY enjoyable. I wanted to review them in detail from memory, but I remember only outlines of the plot. However I remember perfectly well their overall characteristics and the feeling they gave me. Below are mini-reviews of them. I will write more detailed separate reviews after I will re-read them the next year (2014).

What’s GREAT:

The Golden Rendezvous
1. Lots of good humour (mostly sarcastic).
2. Lots of action.
3. Lots of mystery and plot twists.
4. Pure first-person narration.
5. All action takes place on a sea-ship (kind of unusual).

Night Without End
1. Non-stop action.
2. Lots of mystery and plot twists.
3. Pure first-person narration.
4. All action takes place on the Greenland Ice-sheet (unique).
5. Narration gives the feeling of extreme cold and of exhaustion.

The Satan Bug
1. Lots of action.
2. Pure first-person narration.
3. Great humour, but not too much.
4. Plot about deadly viruses (something quite rare even today).
5. Narration gives the feeling of maddening fear of being infected with such a virus.

The Last Frontier
1. Lots of action and plot twists.
2. Third-person narration written ONLY from the point of view of the main character (it feels almost like first-person narration).
3. Plot about an undercover agent on a mission behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War (unique today, but dated).
4. Very insightful about normal people living on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain and about a totalitarian, non-democratic system in general.
There are maybe 7 pages in total in the whole book about such things (spoken in dialogue, not said by the narrator), but they are extremely TRUE, even today. MacLean captured the sense of what was happening behind the Iron Curtain quite well, even though he was never there – it was the fault of the system rather than the fault of particular nations. You have to read the book yourself to understand exactly what I mean and what MacLean meant back in 1959. Thought-provoking stuff, really.
5. In a way the book is prophetic.
The book was inspired by the events surrounding the Hungarian Revolution of 1956:
MacLean properly recognised the heroism of Hungarian people, but he didn’t use the book to encourage a war against the Communist Bloc. On the contrary – he was aware that such a war would lead only to devastation and that there would be no winners. MacLean hinted that a more pacifistic approach is needed and that the rhetoric of the West should change a little. He did it by hinting what a steadily growing political tension can lead to. Because of this approach the book was not well received in 1959 – at the peak of the Cold War. Considering the peaceful fall of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989 and judging from such a HUGE time perspective Alistair MacLean seems almost like a prophet.

(Friday, 29 November 2013)

No comments:

Post a Comment