I will defend this book s subtle intelligence to the ends of the Earth Garland s performative act seducing us with the myth of perfect travel, deftly balancing the naive hypocrisies of Westerners rooting out the exotic in the East creates a brutal ending that recasts what had led up to it While Garland could have easily stopped with a cautionary tale, he went further by lacing his character s thoughts not with literary allusions, but filmic ones Which 20 something British kid wouldn t think I will defend this book s subtle intelligence to the ends of the Earth Garland s performative act seducing us with the myth of perfect travel, deftly balancing the naive hypocrisies of Westerners rooting out the exotic in the East creates a brutal ending that recasts what had led up to it While Garland could have easily stopped with a cautionary tale, he went further by lacing his character s thoughts not with literary allusions, but filmic ones Which 20 something British kid wouldn t think of Apocalypse Now while foraging through the jungle in Thailand Also, this title s in my Desert Island picks because it doubles as a survival guide Did you know you can clean your teeth with twigs I basically devoured this book Started on Friday, finished by Monday Part of it has to do with the way the book is written short, three to four page vignettes that make it easy to say, Oh I ll just read onebut a larger part has to do with the momentum of the story it doesn t really ever let up i was never bored reading this book in fact I almost compulsively needed to know what would happen next The whole thing kind of plays out like a really well done summer popcorn movie Two de I basically devoured this book Started on Friday, finished by Monday Part of it has to do with the way the book is written short, three to four page vignettes that make it easy to say, Oh I ll just read onebut a larger part has to do with the momentum of the story it doesn t really ever let up i was never bored reading this book in fact I almost compulsively needed to know what would happen next The whole thing kind of plays out like a really well done summer popcorn movie Two devices I particularly enjoyed were the passage of time which pretty much flies by for us and the characters in such a way that you don t even notice it is and the way Garland gives the reader small breaks from the island by delving into memories of sweet childhood Very nicely done.Some criticism the only thing about this book that really made me groan was pretty much everything involving ahem Daffy Duck Dream sequences, hallucinations, awareness of hallucinations It all felt too contrived and horrifically self aware for me And then, once he s off the island, nocraziness Too there s something funny about that island for my taste.On the back cover of this edition Nick Hornby called it a Lord of the Flies for Generation X Generation X schma aside, this book is a great update of Golding s classic and well worth the weekend or long plane ride of non stop reading you re bound to spend with it Having never heard of Alex Garland I picked up his debut novel, The Beach because the cover and premise were intriguing I m happy to say that Mr Garland delivered exactly what he promised and I breezed through this little yellow book in two days If Jack Kerouac wore shorts and hung out with William Golding, the two might have produced something like this The Beach is compulsively readable because of several factors First, the chapters are structured and trimmed into an expert lenght, ofte Having never heard of Alex Garland I picked up his debut novel, The Beach because the cover and premise were intriguing I m happy to say that Mr Garland delivered exactly what he promised and I breezed through this little yellow book in two days If Jack Kerouac wore shorts and hung out with William Golding, the two might have produced something like this The Beach is compulsively readable because of several factors First, the chapters are structured and trimmed into an expert lenght, often forming four or five page vignettes which allow for the good old just onesyndrome which kept many a reader turning the pages deep into the night The second factor is the story, which is a grand adventure and never really lets up I was never bored while reading The Beach, and constantly wanted to know what will happen next, and the book kept my excitement up to the very last sentence Time flies, both for the readers and the characters, and after the experience both won t be the same.The plot is simple Richard, a twentysomething backpacker finds his way to Bangkok, where he checks into a cheap hostel on Khao San Road There he meets a seemingly crazy neighbour who introduces himself as Daffy Daffy speaks crazy talk about a remote island , located in a off limits part of Thailand, forbidden for tourists On this island is a beach, and Daffy describes is as a perfect utopia Richard decides to go there along with the French couple he met at the hostel, and using a map drawn by Daffy sets out to find the legendary beach.Now, this sounds like fun, and is exactly that fun The suspense is unbearable, and the adventure aspect of the novel is something rarely encountered in contemporary fiction Seduced with the promise of a perfect hideout, the reader sets on along with Richard on a riveting and spectacular adventure Everything about this book is well done, and it transports the reader into a dream of most Western travelers a perfect island, unspoiled by commercial culture and an ideal place for idealistic people to set up To shape their lives upon What will Richard s arrival change Will he adapt Or will he not This is an exciting debut novel, dark and sinister, but also funny and laced with exciting cultural references A fast and furious novel that transports the reader into another place, much like Golding s Lord of the Flies The Golding comparison is unavoidable, but The Beach stands alone Garland s writing is razor sharp and colloquial without being cliched, and guarantees for an intelligent page turner This is a definite keeper Great, bizarry, chilling story, keeps you turning the pages til the end In the top of my booklist definitely.Note 2018 after this book came up again in my goodreads library another classic which I really found intriguing back then Need to reread definitely. I really wish the copy I read didn t have shirtless Leonardo DiCaprio on it. Find all of my reviews at I knew about The Beach before beginning is that it was a movie I never watched starring little Leo that was released about 72 years ago and that it seems to be on many if you want to call yourself a bibliophile, you better read this type of lists Now that I ve checked it off my reader s bucket list I m a bit at a loss for what to say This is a story that had A LOT of things that I typically enjoy.Potential utopia that eventuall Find all of my reviews at I knew about The Beach before beginning is that it was a movie I never watched starring little Leo that was released about 72 years ago and that it seems to be on many if you want to call yourself a bibliophile, you better read this type of lists Now that I ve checked it off my reader s bucket list I m a bit at a loss for what to say This is a story that had A LOT of things that I typically enjoy.Potential utopia that eventually turnsCheck.A narrator who continually has you askingCheck.Idiots abroad who stumble across a giant pot farm So why the mediocre rating Well, it also had some things that I don t typically enjoy such as a lot of underlying political social messages the author was trying to get across And that unreliable narrator mentioned above What was his name again Richard YeahMore like Douche LaRouche Not to mention his fall into insanity or wicked trips or whatever the eff was supposed to be going on had me like And I know it was supposed to be because he was obsessed with Vietnam via movies and whatnot rather than actually being there, but it was still stupid.In a strange turn of events, I actually liked reading about the placethan about the people this time around Which goes to show I might be the most unreliable narrator of them all since I just totally flamed a book for being too descriptive about the setting After discovering a seemingly Edenic paradise on an island in a Thai national park, Richard soon finds that since civilized behavior tends to dissolve without external restraints, the utopia is hard to maintain Nancy Pearl I ve never seen this movie, but I have seen the commercials for it I have always thought this book was a thriller and picked it up based on that assumption But It wasn t Or, it mostly wasn t The last 25 pages minus the epilogue were thriller esque, but that s not what this story is about What was it about I m not really sure It feels like one of those books that are kind of infinitely interpretable Every person who reads it may see something different in it For my part, I didn t re I ve never seen this movie, but I have seen the commercials for it I have always thought this book was a thriller and picked it up based on that assumption But It wasn t Or, it mostly wasn t The last 25 pages minus the epilogue were thriller esque, but that s not what this story is about What was it about I m not really sure It feels like one of those books that are kind of infinitely interpretable Every person who reads it may see something different in it For my part, I didn t really feel like there was much of a story at all for most of the book, but then, maybe I just didn t see it because I m not the type that would I m not the adventurous traveler type I like to do fun things that I ve planned for, and I m not the pick up and go on a whim type This book is full of jaded travelers they ve been everywhere that s anywhere, and crave something different, something that hasn t been turned into a tourist trap, something that still remains pure So, our intrepid travelers find the beach and are enchanted with it and the little commune of people who live there Awesome Except I don t get it There were a lot of inconsistencies that just didn t work for me Like our main character narrowly escaping armed guards on one part of the island, and then chatting up the next person he sees without a care in the world No suspicion that this is another guard, just Hey, how s it going I also didn t really get the allure of the beach, or the Borg mentality surrounding it I can understand wanting to preserve a secret place, but it just seemed that everyone was so extreme I couldn t identify with really any of the characters except for Etienne Actually, I take that back, I liked the main character, Richard, in the beginning, and then lost it as I kept reading It was incredibly weird, because it was like as the story went along, I found myself kind of staring incredulously at my nook, wondering what the hell was happening, what everyone was thinking, what was wrong I couldn t put my finger on any of it Nothing was really happening at all, but it just kept feelingandoff the longer I read Maybe that s what the author intended It could be, and it would make sense There s a definite surreal quality to this book, where things are and are not at the same time, and you re not really sure what we should believe and what we should dismiss And it s told in 1st person, and Richard is not exactly a reliable narrator, so that only adds to the confusion and chaos which again is out of place, because there s this underlying feeling of confusion and chaos, but very little is actually happening in the story, plot wise It s very off kilter, and isn t really my cup of tea But, even so I m giving this 3 stars, because even though the surreality and oddity and lack of tangible plot aren t my thing, I applaud the author s skill at writing this story, and doing so in a way that I felt all of these things while seemingly nothing was really happening I ll admit that s pretty impressive And honestly, I m not even sure what it is about the writing that was so great It wasn t written unusually, or with any gimmicky style or anything, just straight prose, but it was effective During the Tet scene, I felt the chaos in the clearing, the celebratory vibe, I could almost hear a kind of primal drumbeat setting the tone So, while the story wasn t my thing, I thought the writing was very good, and justifies my giving this a higher rating than I would if it were based on story alone which would likely be two stars, if you re curious The Beach was the 1996 debut novel by Alex Garland, a British writer who s gone on to pen the screenplays for an impressive bunch of UK produced science fiction films Garland authored 28 Days Later 2003 and Sunshine 2007 , adapted Kazuo Ishiguro s novel Never Let Me Go 2010 , as well as the comic book Dredd 2012 , the version that was actually good His name first materialized on screen in 2000 with The Beach and despite the dismal reception of that film the script for which Garland did The Beach was the 1996 debut novel by Alex Garland, a British writer who s gone on to pen the screenplays for an impressive bunch of UK produced science fiction films Garland authored 28 Days Later 2003 and Sunshine 2007 , adapted Kazuo Ishiguro s novel Never Let Me Go 2010 , as well as the comic book Dredd 2012 , the version that was actually good His name first materialized on screen in 2000 with The Beach and despite the dismal reception of that film the script for which Garland did not write I was very eager to read his source material.The novel begins with a British backpacker named Richard arriving alone in Bangkok Richard who we later learn is mending a broken heart with as much exotic travel and dope as he can fit in narrates the story with the self awareness of a twenty something who s consumed every Vietnam War movie ever made, beginning with Apocalypse Now He checks into one of the many guest houses on the Ko Sanh Road which cater to young French, German, Swedish or American backpackers looking to escape whatever future awaits them back home Adjusting his circadian rhythms to Thailand, Richard finds the thin walls of the guesthouse afford him no peace from the French teenagers having sex next door and worse, the guest across the hall, a Scot who repeats the word bitch so many times that Richard realizes he s saying beach The Scot peers over the wall to bedevil Richard with lunatic ramblings that make even less sense through his jet lag The next day, Richard discovers an envelope has been left on his door Inside is a map to a beach Entering the Scot s room, Richard finds the man has slashed open his wrists and bled to death.After submitting to police questions about the dead Scot, who registered under the name Mister Daffy Duck, Richard introduces himself to one half of the French couple, a handsome teenager named tienne Having kept it a secret from the police, unsure of what sort of trouble it could lead to, Richard shows the map to tienne, who recognizes the beach as part of the Marine Park declared off limits to tourists He theorizes that perhaps an intrepid few have braved the route and set up their own private resort there, a paradise untapped by commercial tourism tienne wants to try for the beach and when he shares the map with his lovely girlfriend Fran oise, she s equally game Richard, tienne and Fran oise set off from Bangkok by night train to Surat Thani, where they catch a bus to Donsak and a ferry to the island of Koh Samui tienne secures a fishing charter to transport them into the Marine Park while Richard attempts to keep his desire for Fran oise in check Their plan is to be dropped off at Koh Angthong, where it s legal to camp for two nights, and make the swim to the next island, the site of Mister Duck s mysterious beach The night before, Richard meets two Americans, Zeph and Sammy, Ivy League stoners who regale them with a legend they ve heard Think about a lagoon, hidden from the sea and passing boats by a high curving wall of rock Then imagine white sands and coral gardens never damaged by dynamite fishing or trawling nets Freshwater falls scatter the island, surrounded by jungle not the forests of inland Thailand, but jungle Canopies three levels deep, plants untouched for a thousand years, strangely colored birds and monkeys in the trees On the white sands, fishing in the coral gardens, a select community of travelers pass the months They leave if they want to, they return, the beach never changes.Before shoving off into the unknown, Richard makes a fatal decision to copy Mister Duck s map and leave it for Zeph and Sammy, insurance in case Richard and his companions disappear The travelers encounter several obstacles on the road to paradise There s a swim through open sea which forces them to abandon their backpacks Once on the island, their hike inland brings them to the largest marijuana field they ve ever seen, where they realize their presence is definitely not welcome They then find a waterfall between them and the beach, a final test that Richard takes and passes The beach is everything that Richard, tienne and Fran oise hoped it might be Fifty ortravelers their ages have spent years building a self sufficient community almost immune to the outside world They ve constructed a longhouse and huts They ve redirected a running stream for sanitary purposes Work details Fishing, Gardening, Cooking, Carpentry are assigned Marijuana, as much as Jed can steal from the Thai farmers they share the island with, is imbibed liberally Their leader is Sal alias SAL vester , who founded the beach with her boyfriend Bugs and one other, the late Mister Daffy Duck.Garland uses the work details to not only build an alternative society, but to expose a rift between Richard and one of the other characters I love reading novels about people at work and part of that always comes back to how co workers get along, or in some cases, don t get along The story stays on the move, a neat trick considering how content most of the characters would be to sit in one spot, get stoned and discuss video games Garland keeps stirring the pot, introducing potential friends and enemies, materializing threats and alluding to secrets, the meat and potatoes for a good page turner The Beach exists in a temperate climate that I loved, right between literary fiction and genre fiction, between what could have been remarkable tedium or sexed up intrigue There is a prologue that promises an obnoxious, pop culture infused trip into the author s favorite movies or books, but once the story gets going, Garland tempers much of that a directive from his editor, maybe As a narrator, Richard does settle on the bland side I was never convinced he was British, that he d come from anywhere or was in any way unique to anyone else in the book Garland maintains that his travelers have come to the beach to escape who they were and where they came from That would explain the absence of character histories, but not character passions The female characters in particular Francoise and Sal are devoid of life They seem like either a 5th grader s perception of women, or the imaginings of male author writing his first novel Flat The Beach is a novel of imperfections, but imperfections I was able to cast off, submitting myself to the journey the author wanted to take me on This is a deeply layered, imaginative and thrilling book that in some way seems keyed in to the moment it was written In the mid 1990s, the Internet was beginning to connect the planet and some of us were ready to get off already I wouldn t call this a Generation X manifesto, but can t argue with those who do Tackling big ideas make the novel feel bigger than its parts.Among those who heard the piper s call of The Beach was filmmaker Danny Boyle, hot off Shallow Grave and Trainspotting Boyle s go to screenwriter John Hodge adapted a screenplay and Ewan McGregor was promised the lead role This changed when Leonardo DiCaprio was looking for his follow up to Titanic and expressed interest in working with Boyle Twentieth Century Fox ponied up a 50 million production budget and in return, concessions were given to make Garland s vision palatable to a mass audience It didn t work out well, though Tilda Swinton s performance as Sal and the photography by Darius Khondji are worth the watch Started finished this within 5 days Fantastic, i LOVED it Much darker than the film Started finished this within 5 days Fantastic, i LOVED it Much darker than the film