Nail-biting exciting, Daniel Lovewell
November 16, 2021
David Hill’s Coastwatcher is an exciting book, based on the true stories of the real coastwatchers that operated during the Second World War. The cover, with its silhouette of a soldier’s head, draws you to this book and makes you curious to know what the story is about. The blurb on the back suggests danger and war and spies, and this is the kind of intrigue you can expect all the way through the book.
The main character, Frank, is a 19 year old radio operator. He is shipped out to an enemy occupied island within the Solomon Islands with two other soldiers, and becomes part of a major landing force, aiming to spy on the Japanese. Frank and his small team have the skills for “Operation Pacific”. But as they are landing, a pair of Japanese A6M Zero aircraft that are returning from a mission spots them. Everybody is nervous because they might call for backup. They don’t know who they can trust. Frank goes on a mission as a coastwatcher and finds a local islander. Together, they go to a village via canoe and find terrified locals. They are frightened because the Japanese have been taking away their people for questioning, and the locals come back scared. When they discover an enemy aircraft has crashed nearby, Frank rushes to it and finds an enemy codebook and radio! This is just the kind of ‘intel’ Frank has been looking for, but it puts him in terrible danger.
I like Frank as a character; he is a young guy in a scary place, doing important work. He grows up a lot throughout the story because he has to. I think Frank shows us a lot about being brave, and the importance of friendship. These are key themes in the book.
I didn’t know what a “coastwatcher” was before I read this story, and I felt a bit like Frank, who said, “There are so many things I don’t know”. But since then, I have gone on to read and research more about the real Coast Watch Organisation. It turns out they were unsung heroes in the Pacific during World War II. They lived a dangerous life, and more than 30 were killed in active service.
I like that there is a dedication from the author to his father, who was a serviceman. That tells me that David Hill knows and cares about this subject and makes his writing more real to me. I have read nearly all David Hill’s books and always enjoy his realistic and descriptive writing style. Another of his stories, Flight Path, is one of my all-time favourite books.
I found that Coastwatcher was unpredictable, with high action excitement that continued throughout the book, making it a real page-turner. I didn’t put it down, instead staying up far too late reading it all in one go! If you are interested in World War II, history or the Pacific, I recommend you read this book, as you won’t be disappointed.
- Daniel Lovewell is 12 years old and lives in Masterton.