I think this book won the Pullitzer Prize in like 1952? It’s a pretty fucking good World War II book. There’s something so simple about a certain kind of popular fiction from the 50s (this book reminds me, in some ways, of the THE MAN IN THE GREY FLANNEL SUIT). Everything is just set up in such a simple way. Here you’ve got a midshipman who’s kind of a ne’er’do’well–a person who drifts through life by clutching the skirts of his overprotective mother. And literally the first third of the book is about him slowly growing up and trying to take responsibility for his life (while posted to a mine-sweeper in the Pacific during World War II).
But…you also know there’s going to be this mutiny! At some point the crew of this ship are going to decide, for some reason, to take command of it! I’m shocked at the chutzpah of the writer in delaying the book’s main event until we’re well over a hundred pages into the book. In fact, the main antagonist of the book (or so I presume), Captain Queeg, has only just been posted to the ship!
This is a book that’s doing such a great job on a pure suspense level. I just desperately want to know what’s going to happen next! How will the mutiny turn out! And what role will our hero take in it! The artifice of the book is great. The main themes of the book–about deference to authority and to societal strictures–are mirrored in the main character’s slow path to taking responsibility of his own life. And the two dovetail perfectly and leave you wondering: is he going to be an adult here? Or is he going to rebel?
And you honestly do not know. It could go either way. Looking forward to finding out, though.