The Guns of Navarone
By Alistair MacLean
Why this book?
In this book, Maclean created one of the most unique and incredible settings I’ve seen, along with an interesting group of characters. It’s a World War II thriller set on a fictional island in the Aegean Sea, Navarone—a combination of some of the Greek islands, where the German army has set up a pair of major cannons to control the nearby waters. The neighboring island houses a prisoner-of-war camp with at least two hundred Allied prisoners.
To free the prisoners, the Allies assemble a team to neutralize the guns at Navarone. The team includes a New Zealand mountaineer, an American bomb and radio expert, an expert Greek combatant, and two British soldiers, each with distinct personalities, along with two locals who help them.
The setting of Navarone has as much variety as the team, spanning cliffs, mountains, the harbor, and a series of caves. The mix of the two makes the story really unique, especially with the high stakes of the operation and the obstacles that the team encounters.
The plot is also super gripping, especially as the Germans start to catch up to the team and they have to stay hidden in dire weather conditions. Maclean is also masterful with how he captures the different characters—nothing about them is cookie cutter, and each one has a distinct personality. The trust and camaraderie that builds within the team draws the reader in and makes the book hard to put down. Nothing about this book feels cliché or stereotypical and it’s a fantastic read.
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