Read The Beach by Alex Garland Online

the-beach

The Khao San Road, Bangkok - first stop on the backpacker trail. On Richard's first night there a fellow traveller slits his wrists, leaving Richard a map to "the Beach".The Beach is a legend among young travellers in Asia: white as sands circling a lagoon hidden from the sea, coral gardens and freshwater falls surrounded by jungle. In this earthly paradise, it is rumouredThe Khao San Road, Bangkok - first stop on the backpacker trail. On Richard's first night there a fellow traveller slits his wrists, leaving Richard a map to "the Beach".The Beach is a legend among young travellers in Asia: white as sands circling a lagoon hidden from the sea, coral gardens and freshwater falls surrounded by jungle. In this earthly paradise, it is rumoured, a select community lives in blissful innocence. For Richard, haunted by the glamour of Vietnam war movies, a trek into unknown Thai territory is irresistible. He was looking for adventure. Now he’s found it....

Title : The Beach
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780140258417
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 439 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Beach Reviews

  • Ryan Chapman
    2018-11-30 22:34

    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?

  • Maciek
    2018-11-26 20:01

    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 one more" syndrome 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.

  • Ryan
    2018-12-02 02:35

    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 one more") but 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, no more craziness. 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.

  • Hannah Eiseman-Renyard
    2018-11-21 19:46

    Gorgeous, Cynical, Well-ObservedBelieve it or not, despite the hints throughout about dark and terrible things to come, this novel doesn't really turn dark until around the last fifth.Until then it's beautiful scenery, well-observed love triangles and petty dislikes, and a new traveller trying to get to, and then assimilate into, the hidden island paradise known as the beach. However, our boy, English narrator Richard, was originally given a map to the beach by an angry/disturbed guy he met in a Thai hostel, just before he slit his own wrists. So I suppose the darkness is there right from the start.It's odd that a story so brimming with obvious bad shit happening around the edges manages to stay so pleasant in the main - but then so does the beach itself. It is this amoral hippie oasis - beautiful and hidden, but with drug plantations and the beaten tourist trail so nearby - which makes up the essential dilemma of the piece. The beach is set up almost like a modern fairy kingdom - a place where time appears to stop, everyone forgets about their lives back home, and the place is apparently run fairly and well - but with a slight hint of menace, too. I was especially pleased with the narrator character, Richard. Though he does eventually do some terrible things, it's his shrewd observation, thirst for adventure, and just the right amount of cynicism and pettiness to stay entirely believable, which really makes this narrative work. For large amounts of the story the islanders are simply fishing, or farming, or otherwise working - but it's Richard's keen observation and Alex Garland's tight plotting which keeps undercurrents churning away. Even when the day-to-day activities are repetitive, Richard's growing discoveries about the place and the people mean that the plot never stands still.(This may not be my most well-thought out review as I only finished the book yesterday, and need to give things time to percolate a little more, but I did really enjoy - and devour - this book.)

  • Becky
    2018-12-04 03:01

    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 feeling more and more "off" 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).

  • j
    2018-11-25 21:51

    I really wish the copy I read didn't have shirtless Leonardo DiCaprio on it.

  • Joe Valdez
    2018-11-17 00:46

    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 Étienne. Having kept it a secret from the police, unsure of what sort of trouble it could lead to, Richard shows the map to Étienne, 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. Étienne wants to try for the beach and when he shares the map with his lovely girlfriend Françoise, she's equally game. Richard, Étienne and Françoise 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. Étienne secures a fishing charter to transport them into the Marine Park while Richard attempts to keep his desire for Françoise 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, Étienne and Françoise hoped it might be. Fifty or more travelers 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.

  • Trudi
    2018-12-07 22:35

    GR friend Maciek recommended this book to me, and I highly recommend that you check out his most awesome review that does a brilliant job of capturing this book's strengths. As for me, I knew very little about it save from what I could vaguely remember from the movie that's over ten years old now. It's hard for me to classify this novel as anything other than "an experience". Parts of it are fun and breezy, others dark and depressing. Still others surreal and uncomfortable. It has adventure. It has epic creep. It has mind-bending elements that keep you off-kilter. The trick is that no matter what is happening or not happening on any given page, I was totally engrossed the entire time. Every time I came back to the book after a break BAM! I was right back on the beach, real life immediately falling away. The buildup is slow and meticulous, yet never feels unnecessary. Garland concentrates on the minutiae of beach life to draw us in and make us more than just a voyeur, but a participant. It is a potent intimacy that allows us to see beach politics for what it really is. The descent as inevitable. The ending perhaps not all that surprising. I love stories that delve into the mechanics and realities of group psychology. Who emerges as leader? As sycophant? As outsider? As threat? Remove any group far enough away from the rigorous checks and balances of "civilized society" and it's astonishing how quickly our moral compass can become "askew" at best, outright busted and broken at worst. Given enough time under the right stressors, humans can justify just about any aberrant behavior as necessary and essential. It what makes us so dangerous in war. (view spoiler)[The ease with which Richard is able to smother the long suffering Swede is chilling. He does it not out of an abiding empathy to end someone's pain, but to clear an obstacle to his escape plan. Jed won't leave if the Swede still breathes. Richard doesn't want to leave without Jed (which has more to do with Richard's ongoing obsession with Vietnam war movies and "leave no man behind" sentiments rather than real friendship). Ergo, Swede must die now. It makes me really wonder what Richard would have done if he had caught up to Karl before the surviving Swede was able to escape with the boat.(hide spoiler)]Life on the beach did not repulse me, but I do not long for that kind of existence and cannot relate to that desire to cut oneself off from society, family, friends, history. Much of the novel reads like a dream, because once you enter into this way of life, your day to day melds, blends and becomes very dreamlike. Time is fluid and driven by the sun rather than timepieces or calendars. The characters - while fleshed out - are not knowable because they are not even knowable to one another (or even themselves). They are first names. They are nationalities. They are how many fish did you catch today. They are the last game of soccer, the last game of Tetris on Game Boy, the last joint twisted up and smoked. I would find that very lonely and off-putting. But I can also see how it can infect you, get into your bloodstream, and that once you found yourself "in it", you wouldn't want to leave. It would feel normal, and safe, and right and something to fiercely protect at all costs. Losing perspective is a frightening notion. But it happens, and when it happens it's too late. You don't know you've lost perspective, because you've lost perspective. See how that works?There is an emotional element missing for me here because of this. I long to connect, and feel connected to characters and that just doesn't happen. That's the nature of the story and the ruthless and methodical way in which Garland writes it. I can respect that. Plus, Garland chooses Richard as the sole narrator. We just don't know how reliable he is, and we can only see the characters through his eyes, a very limited viewpoint indeed. The other aspect I'm left to ponder is (view spoiler)[the lack of sexuality. There are hints of people who have paired off, and the unrequited attraction Richard feels toward Francoise, but that's it. On a secluded beach of young, vibrant people at the peak of health and curiosity, why is this sensual component missing? Did Garland just not want to deal with it, or is it a deliberate omission? That part of coming to the beach and giving up so much of yourself means sacrificing that carnal element as well. As if you've been neutered, or given a chemical castration. Perhaps? I don't know. But I did find it odd and it left me scratching my head. (hide spoiler)]My backpacking, hostel-sleeping days are behind me, and I don't miss them one bit. I wasn't an adventurous traveler even then. Much more cautious and boring than I would ever repeat now. The exotic seeking travelers, desirous of something completely alien, remain completely alien to me. I don't get that compulsion. But I wish them the very best on their epic adventures. Steer clear of the isolated lagoons and beach heads though. Perfection is an illusion, and a siren song.

  • Scribble Orca
    2018-11-21 20:37

    I've put off writing anything about this hoping that I'd be able to drag my weary disinterest through to the end of the novel...unfortunately that never occurred. Maybe it's because of having done the itinerant traveller thing, or maybe it was because the book felt too contrived, or maybe....I expected something else or something more. Whatever. This just didn't do it for me.If you haven't backpacked through Asia, I guess this book could be an interesting read...and if you had, it might be chock-a-block full of reminisces for you and be worth a trip down memory lane. I think the been-there-done-that syndrome just had me shaking my head at implied-but-insubstantive pseudo insights and the gratuitous self-righteousness of the narrator. All in all, not quite a disappointment but nothing to really write home about. As a tourist, traveller, exile or expat.

  • Chrissy
    2018-11-26 22:40

    Excellent writing -- different, interesting, and colloquial without being cliche. His short descriptions of the characters are beyond adequate, as he lets you immediately understand the person. Richard, the main character, is both elusive and relate-able -- he's an enjoyable character for me because I could see myself in him. He's selfish and flawed, but tries to remain a team player and at the end of the day (or the trip?), he tries to save himself and his friends. Everything about this book is well done, well captued -- the setting in "Thailand" or a Utopian island, the characters from the cook who's obsessed with scented soap to the Harvard students who play up pothead stereotypes to see Europeans react. Then there is Richard's relationship with an imaginary (?) friend ... one that exists somewhere between Richard's nightmares and his daily life. The book's excitement compels you to keep reading its short chapters. The plot and its surprises are both beautiful and demonic, but always realistic.

  • Jeanette
    2018-12-05 18:46

    Given time, Shangri-La never is.You must grow up and live in the real world, complicated and unpleasant as it may be. Seems to me this is something every generation has to figure out for itself, with assistance or hindrance from various psychoactive substances. Richard, age 21, goes to Thailand and finds his way to a hidden settlement on a secluded island that is supposed to be off-limits to tourists. The people there are enjoying an Edenic existence, getting nearly everything they need from the land, including unlimited doobies for all. Circumstances arise that divide the group, and the copious THC rations only provide fuel for the paranoid delusions and poor judgment. Eventually it all dissolves in a rather grisly fashion.It was disturbing to me that Richard saw the whole thing almost as a game, even after all the horror. He considered the experience his compensation for not having been born in time to be a Vietnam veteran. 3.5 stars, but I can be generous and round up to 4 because the youthful author showed a convincing grasp of group dynamics and self-interested behavior. The rivalries, jealousies, and power struggles felt very true to real life. I should add that if you are squeamish, you might want to avoid this book. The author didn't go overboard with the gross-out detail, but there are some pretty graphic scenes I could have done without.

  • Jules
    2018-11-26 21:54

    Having seen the film a couple of times, I was worried it would ruin my experience of the book, but not at all. This was a great read, and quite hard to put down, as I wanted to know what was going to happen next (even having seen the film). The film and the book version feel like two very separate things to me.

  • Annet
    2018-11-24 18:54

    Great, bizarry, chilling story, keeps you turning the pages til the end. In the top of my booklist definitely.

  • Nicola
    2018-11-17 01:55

    I first read this book about 10 years ago and I've read it at least 10 times since then. As a simple adventure story, it doesn't lose its punch, even upon rereading. Richard, a young English traveller, is given a map in Bangkok by a man named Daffy Duck, who promptly commits suicide. The map leads Richard to a secret beach, where a commune of travellers live in apparent paradise. Unfortunately, this tiny microcosm of existence, while idyllic, is also prone to disasters – from the banal, like a bout of food poisoning, to the catastrophic, like drug farmers bearing arms.However, the true delights of this novel come from its numerous layers. It's a profoundly intelligent book, which can be read in many different ways, emphasising many different aspects. There's barely a wasted scene, and each one opens up more possibilities for literary analysis. That it is also an effortless read is a testament to Alex Garland's abilities as a writer.With allegorical finesse, Garland addresses globalism, communism, war, matriarchy and masculinity, what it means to be a Brit who grew up on a diet of American movies, magic realism, madness and much more. Yet the novel never feels weighty – you can choose to ignore any or all of these allegories and allusions if you like. On this particular reading, I began thinking about the idea that the beach could be a drug-induced hallucination, since Richard mistakes Daffy for a heroin addict initially, only later learning that it's the beach he's addicted to. Richard is also a fascinating unreliable narrator; his lack of reliability doubling due to the fact that Garland never demands that you like him very much as a person.That I do, in fact, like him shows the nuance of Garland's writing. Despite the fact that it's a first novel, Garland shows a grasp of plotting and continuity of a much more mature author. Everything ties together neatly, and even minor characters possess warmth and depth. While Garland clearly draws on knowledge accrued while he was travelling himself, there's no show-off quality about it: he merely drops in hints of exoticism that not only enhance the novel's scenery but also forward the plot.The Beach is truly a rare pleasure: a fun read that's also profoundly literary.

  • Julie Ehlers
    2018-11-23 02:50

    The Beach made a big splash when it first came out and was quickly followed by a movie version starring Leonardo DiCaprio. I was curious to check it out, so naturally I bought a copy of the book and then let it follow me from apartment to apartment before finally reading it nearly 20 years later. I wonder if I would have liked it more if I'd read it back then? Don't get me wrong, this was entertaining, but also flawed: All of the characters (except the French guy) were horrible people, the Vietnam War parallels didn't work for me, and I think there was probably a way to show (view spoiler)[the main character was (kind of) losing his mind (hide spoiler)] besides (view spoiler)[having him hallucinate a dead guy over and over (hide spoiler)]—although that felt like a very 1990s touch. Also the writing was kind of meh and their island "paradise" sounded totally horrible to me and I kept hoping they would come to their senses and just get out of there. Still, this was a decent read, fast-moving and enjoyable—just don't expect it to change your life or anything.

  • Sarah
    2018-11-20 21:40

    A fortunate find at the anniversary Big Book Sale with S and K on my first day of vacation. I'd been toying with reading this after something triggered my memory of the awful movie (perhaps after hearing Porcelain or another decade-old Top 40 soundtrack song at some store in the Bay Area, as is prone to happen around here), and after toying with the idea of going backpacking before my window closes, i.e. before I truly become too old and curmudgeonly. Thank goodness I read this rambling book and got some sense knocked into me. I will now content myself with reading S's sister's excellent travel blog and leave the backpacking to young, cheerful people.By virtue of Wikipedia I have learned that Alex Garland wrote this, his first book, at an early age (his bio blurb in the back notes the year of his birth, which is publishing-speak for "hot young thing") supposedly to excoriate the backpacker culture of privileged hot young things trying to out-backpack everyone by being the first to get there and experience, whatever. While no longer a new concept, this was done decently enough. Like when Richard the narrator asks the creepy, fascist leader Sal (played by a very creepy Tilda Swinton in the movie) what the idyllic secret beach community is, she screws with him by saying it's a beach resort for travelers on holiday. Richard frowns to himself: "It seemed so belittling. I had ambiguous feelings about the differences between tourists and travelers - the problem being that the more I traveled, the smaller the differences became. But the one difference I could still latch onto was that tourists went on holidays while travelers did something else. They traveled."Like those deep thoughts, the rest of the book is not that good or profound. There are a distracting number of really old and nonsensical pop culture references. The worst were the long and strangely specific analogies to Nintendo-era video games (e.g. discourses on the abilities of the various players from Streetfighter) -- basically the paperback equivalent of the endless, inane lectures on video games your college boyfriends tortured you with -- only here it's better because you can skip them all. The emotions are also far too overwrought to make the Lord of the Flies-esque ending believable -- but it's kind of enjoyable to watch the house of cards tumble. Depending on your mood, the whole thing can be enjoyable but I can't think of anyone I'd recommend this to.

  • Karly *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*
    2018-12-14 19:46

    Happy St. Patrick's day all :). It seems rather fitting that I would finish The Beach by Alex Garland today, as this book is a bit of a mind fuck, and the day of the Irish tends towards the same. The similarity, naturally, ends there. The Beach is Golding's Lord of the Flies for a twenty-or-thirty-something audience. And whilst I know I may get flayed for this, I have to say, I liked it quite a bit better. I know that Golding did it first so when I feel the pull between my favourite character in his work and a similar character within The Beach I do know which is the artifice, however, Garland's character development was both better and more interesting. There was so much more development overall here. Also, it's worth noting I was a stubborn, stubborn little shit of a teenager, so when my English teacher told me that I would LOVE Lord of the Flies she probably actualized the opposite. And however much I've tried I can't get over it!Okay enough of that! This was a wonderful first book and although I had a gripe or two about language or metaphors early on I found myself lost in Garland's story quite quickly. I wouldn't say that Garland is a literary genius but his story is wonderful! Simply wonderful! All the dark social commentary and hidden barbarian nature play is good stuff, it really is. If you enjoyed Lord of the Flies I highly recommend The Beach by Alex Garland! Although it varies story wise I think it's overall impact is similar in many respects. Go drink some green beer or something. This has been another random musing :P.

  • Tressa
    2018-12-07 21:35

    First of all I would like to thank my friend Maciek for suggesting this great book! I couldn't tear myself away until I finished it.The only thing I knew about this story is that it was made into a movie with Leo DiCaprio and it got lukewarm reviews. I stayed away from it for that reason. If the movie is 1/10 as good as this novel, then I missed a treat. Three world travelers have a map to a beach that is described as Eden. Feeling adventurous, they make the difficult journey there, and are soon enmeshed in the glorious world of beach living. But two back-to-back accidents throw a wrench into their idyllic lifestyle, and it goes south quickly. Think Lord of the Flies with adults who should know better. It was tense and sad and funny and I loved every minute of it. Thanks again, Maciek!

  • Tom
    2018-11-30 01:33

    This book is of course way better than the movie.The movie was watered down, warped, and completely missed the point Garland tried to make in his astonishingly succesful first novel. For starters, Richard, the main character, is brown, English, and doesnt have sex with anybody. He's not Leo at all.The first half of the book is incredible and really gets deep into the backpacking culture in Thailand, and is the best example of backpacker literature for our generation that I've yet seen.Still, after he builds this momentum and gets across what he wanted about backpacking, he never really found a good way to end it. Fitting really, because most vacations are abortive like that, and The Beach delves into how some people desperately dont want them to end.

  • Ioannis Anastasiadis
    2018-11-16 20:49

    ''η ευτυχία είναι ένα όνειρο και η δυστυχία είναι πραγματικότητα''ΒολταιροςO Alex Garland είναι γνωστός για την πολύπλευρη του σταδιοδρομία στον Κινηματογράφο είτε ως παραγωγός ταινιών μυθοπλασίας, είτε ως σεναριογράφος -και τακτικός συνεργάτης ταινιών του σκηνοθέτη Danny Boyle- πραγματοποιώντας πριν τρία χρόνια κ το σκηνοθετικό του πολυβραβευμένο ντεμπούτο με το Ex Machina (2014), μια ταινία επιστημονικής φαντασίας όπου η Τεχνολογική και Ρομποτική Επιστήμη έρχεται αντιμέτωπη με τις τερατώδεις ανακαλύψεις της ..Αυτό που ελάχιστοι ίσως γνωρίζουν είναι ότι ο Garland έγινε γνωστός στο ευρύ και κυρίως νεανικό του κοινό ως συγγραφέας ενός από τα πολυδιαβασμένα βιβλία της δεκαετίας του ’90, την Παραλια. Εκτοτε κυκλοφόρησε δυο βιβλία κ έπειτα ..τον κέρδισε πιθανότατα η επικερδής βιομηχανία του θεάματος καθώς εδω και μια δεκαετία αγνοείται η λογοτεχνική του ενασχόληση.Ο Garland με την έκδοση της Παραλίας χαρακτηρίστηκε από πολλούς κριτικούς ως ο συγγραφέας της Generation X, της δημογραφικής ομάδας που ενηλικιώθηκε περίπου την δεκαετία του 80 με την ταυτόχρονη δημιουργία της τεχνολογικής κ επικοινωνιακής επανάστασης, με τον τερματισμό του Ψυχρού Πολέμου κ την επιτάχυνση της Παγκοσμιοποίησης. Σε μια περίοδο όπου οι οικογενειακοί δεσμοί ειναι πιο χαλαροί σε σχέση με την προηγούμενη γενιά των Baby Boomers, τα διαζύγια αφθονούν, η τηλεοπτικη ψυχαγωγικη εικονα εχει εδραιωθει -η Gen X εχει αλλωστε χαρακτηριστει και ως MTV Generation- ειναι η πρώτη εφηβικη ομάδα που ήρθε σε επαφή με την αρχική μορφή των videogames, του modeling, επιτραπέζιων παιχνιδιών, νεοτευκτων μουσικών ιδιωμάτων όπως της grunge, της indie και της hip-hop και με ενα πληθος ματσο Κινηματογραφικών Χολιγουντιανών ηρώων όπως οι Rambo, ο Terminator, ο Rocky κ.α., και ταινιών πολέμου όπως το αριστουργηματικό Apocalpse Now (1979), το all-time classic Platοon (1986), το εξαιρετικό αν και οχι τοσο δημοφιλες Full Metal Jacket (1987) του τελειομανή Stanley Cubrick.Γνήσια απότοκα της Γενιας Χ ειναι και οι αντιήρωες του μυθιστορήματος του Garland που πραγματοποιουν τις διακοπες τους σε ένα από τα πιο δημοφιλή παγκόσμια θέρετρα και οικονομικά κέντρα της Νοτιοανατολικής Ασίας, στην εξωτική Ταϋλάνδη. Ένας χάρτης που απεικονίζει στο θαλάσσιο πάρκο της Ταϋλάνδης μια μυστήρια παράλια -σε ένα απαγορευμένο νησί για την πολυπληθή μάζα των τουριστών- και έρχεται με δραματικο τροπο στα χερια του Βρεττανου Ριτσαρντ και ενός ζευγαριού από την Γαλλια φαντάζει η τέλεια αφορμή για την διαφυγη από την συμβατική και ασφυκτιουσα πραγματικότητα και την αναζήτηση μιας αληθινης περιπέτειας που οδηγει στην συλλογή εμπειριών και αναμνήσεων. Thai αλλωστε στα Ταυλανδεζικα σημαινει ελευθερια.Παραδεισένιες θαλάσσιες τοποθεσίες βγαλμένες από τα πιο μαγικα παραμύθια, ένα ιδανικά εξοπλισμένο και οργανωμένο κοινόβιο με πλήθος νεαρών hipsters από όλα τα μερη του Κόσμου άλλα και Χασισοφυτείες, ταϊλανδοί άγριοι οπλισμένοι ‘Βιετκογκ’, είναι οι πρώτες και γενικές εικόνες από ένα νησί που είναι κυριολεκτικά χωρισμένο στα δυο συμφώνα με τον σικελικό Νόμο της Σιωπής.. Όλα δείχνουν να ακολουθούν τον ασφαλή δρόμο της γαληνης και μιας ονειρικης ευτυχίας αλλά ένα τραγικό δυστύχημα κ μια επίσκεψη νέων θαλασσοπόρων εξευρενητων διαταράσσει την επιφανειακή ηρεμια. Ο παράδεισος μετατρέπεται σε εφιάλτη, η παράνοια διαδέχεται της λογικής και η προστασία της παραλίας μετατρεπεται σε ένα πολεμικο videogame της Nitendo, ενας επικίνδυνος όπως καθε ειδους εθισμός, οπου οσο ανεβαινουν τα levels του παιχνιδιου τοσο πιο γρηγορα αυξανεται η αδρεναλινη, δοκιμαζονται τα αντανακλαστικα και ο ψυχισμος του καθενος πλησιαζοντας το ξαφνικο Game Over!Ο γραπτός λογος του Alex Garland αν και πρωτοεμφανιζομενος κρινεται ωριμος, λεπτοδουλεμενος, αποδραματοποιημενος και εξαιρετικα θελκτικός στην αναγνωση, ανασύροντας ομοιότητες στην εξελιξη της δρασης με μια κλασική νουβέλα της Παγκόσμιας Λογοτεχνίας, τον ‘Άρχοντα των Μυγών’ του Γουιλιαμ Γκολντιγκ.

  • Kathryn
    2018-12-07 22:50

    My immediate thoughts on finishing The Beach are this: It was pretty good. Four stars. Not the best ever I've read. Quite different than the movie adaptation.What I liked about The Beach were several things: I really enjoyed the way Garland wrote this story. For me, it was a realistic aspect of the way someone might think, speak, feel, and act. I enjoyed the realistic quality of the dialogue. To me, it didn't really seem forced, or trying too hard. For a first novel, I'm kind of left impressed. Another thing I liked about this book was the idea. It made me think there are possibly people out there in the world on small islands, living their lives and creating their own society. For the most part, I could picture what was going on in the story with the descriptions that were given. It's almost one of those types of stories where, you can let your mind wander about what everything and everyone looks like. And despite some of the horrible things Richard, the main character did, I actually still liked him in the end. Towards the end, or even more in the middle, when things start to unravel, it seemed quite realistic. Richard had committed some severe lies which threatened life at The Beach. What also made this more of a realistic story, and something which I kept thinking while I was reading was, "If it's too good to be true, it probably is." Life was too perfect on The Beach. Not having to pay bills, not having to pay for groceries, not necessarly having to work to think about the future, but only the immediate now, and the simplistic lifestyle. At some point, this too-good-to-be-true lifestyle will most likely come to an end in some way shape or form. But despite the things I liked about the book, there were some things I didn't like. I guess I was hoping there would be something more to it. I get the general idea, and maybe not a lot was supposed to happen. A lot did happen, don't get me wrong. I just thought (view spoiler)[Francoise and Richard would actually be together, or something. I know that is what they did to the movie, but maybe that's just me. (hide spoiler)]I'm pretty happy with the story, but I think something a little extra could have been added to bump it up to five stars for me. There was just a little something missing for me, and I don't necessarily mean a romance or something. Also, like I mentioned before, I liked Richard, but I also liked all of the characters. The reader only knew what Richard knew, and I think it played well for the idea: You're on an island, and you've left your past life behind. End of story. You start a new life, and The Beach is your life. Also end of story. Great book. Glad I picked it up and read. (Thanks to Trudi, actually!)

  • Amy
    2018-12-13 00:36

    This book is maybe my favorite book ever. I have read it 5 times (just completed the fifth read) since I bought it in 2000. I never get tired of this story. The writing is extremely witty and transports you to a world that seems beautiful on the outside, but quickly turns on its protaganist to become deeply sinister and threatening. The main character of Richard is relatable to everyone: he is searching for something, he is not sure what, but thinks he has found it in the beach. He never escapes completely his own self-doubt, and realizes that utopia is an impracticality in nature, and in particular, in human beings. The book captures a point that the movie misses entirely, and the events as they play out in the narrative are much more frightening and thrilling than in the movie. Read this book!!!

  • Sve
    2018-12-06 19:51

    По-слабия вариант на "Повелителят на мухите". Доста увлекателна и бързо се чете. Тъпото е, че има happy end като в американски филм.

  • Jason
    2018-11-18 21:59

    This is one of those novels that I had been waiting to read for years. Circumstances just always prevented it, even after I'd seen the movie three or four times. I could never find a copy in China where I was living, I'd forget about it each year I came home and wouldn't order it from Amazon. But finally, I picked this up for my Kindle (bootleg, as it doesn't seem to have an official Kindle release) and dove right in. I started it at the perfect time, too: on a bus ride through central Malaysia, on the way to a beach on the east coast of the country!With all that said...maybe it's just been built up too much for me. Lord of the Flies for Generation X? If this is the modern take on it, then please send me on a time machine back to the Golding days (pun intended) when LotF was released.Other reviewers are correct about the storyline itself: the book just breezes by. Because I had it on Kindle, I never knew how many pages it was in paperback. I read this book in three days, a feat usually reserved only for Michael Crichton novels and travel books. So I will hand Garland that. The guy can certainly spin a yarn, and there were times when this novel was genuinely exciting, especially en route to the island and beach themselves.But this novel has so many things that just bugged me in the end, both as a reader and author. On the technical side, Garland's dialogue is just full of adverbs in the quote tags and ellipses in the speech, two things I consider poor writing and have other greater writers to back me up on. The chapters (if you can call them that, as they're more like segments or something, and only last a few pages each, like an early Ellis novel) often have immature or outright pretentious titles. Come to think of it, the novel itself seemed rather juvenile at times, with gratuitous foul language and pop culture references, as well as video game motifs that did not fit in with the book at all (much like the video game sequence in the movie).Now on to the plot itself. Spoiler alert... The frequent lapses into Mister Duck hallucinations and sidebars got old for me, fast. And then they just stop the moment he leaves the island? Garland steams ahead to an ending that seems both bizarre and unlikely, with a "blood orgy" of sorts involving a bunch of crazed, stoned (only on weed and palm wine) islanders tearing some tourists' bodies to shreds, then attacking the narrator. Did I mention this is all during Tet? And that a bunch of dope farmers have shown up? It just all seemed contrived and a bit improbable to me. I didn't like the movie's ending much either, but it actually met with less incredulity from me!But again, I finished this in three days. I couldn't finish one of my own novels in that short a time. Garland can weave a tale, no question about it.

  • Sally
    2018-11-23 02:37

    whoa. words fail me right now, yet clearly they never did author Alex Garland. The voice of my generation, in a way. I really enjoy watching the world through this narrator's eyes, so much that I'm willing to follow him down a sinkhole of madness. What a beautiful demise to paradise.Don't worry, not a spoiler alert. The narrator is fine in the end. In the movie version. How is the book different? I dare you to read it and tell me for yourself. The adaptation was all I knew of this story, and that was so trite. That is to say so sugar coated, that it was offensively dilute in comparison. I guess that is what adaptations have to do, but crikes.All that director did well was pick awesome music and coreograph fun beach scenery set scenes to fit them. His choice of actors was also nicely apropos. An early DiCaprio set against a myriad of contemporary exciles (except for Sal, the exquisite Tilda Swinton.) But whatever, this isn't a movie review. My point is that I know only now that it was underdone; it could have been so much more. Richer, thicker, pulpier, less perky. I managed to read this in about 18 hours with a baby on my hip. The book transported me so that I felt like I was in Thailand at first, and thickly glad I was not at the end. Books like this, books about psychology, insanity, drug use are astoundingly hard for me to read. The second and third times it was in a weekend go during the school year. Reading a book such as this is intense: At once I feel hyper-aware, insane, and drugged. BY READING A BOOK. What I thought would be a silly, sweet story about backpacking travelers in southeast Asia.

  • Bryce Wilson
    2018-12-13 01:02

    Old Shit I've Been Revisiting Part 1:The Beach was the catalyst for this experiment I've started, I couldn't believe that it'd been five years since I've read the thing. It was also the book I was most afraid wouldn't hold up. It's reputation has suffered since the awful Danny Boyle movie, not helped by the fact that Alex Garland answered the question "Would he be the great novelist of Generation X?" with a resounding "No!". The Beach was one of those perfect time perfect place books. I read it at my own personal Beach, a track of forest where some friends and people decided to drop out of society at large for awhile. True the forests of Ohio have little to do with the islands of Thailand, but well an out is an out. As far as I can recall it was the first "Literary" book that I sought out. I was (and remain) a somewhat plot driven person. The Beach taught me to appreciate atmosphere, character, and style as primary factors rather then just background noise. I was pleasantly surprised to find how well the book held up. It really captures the life style vagabond's have, but doesn't romanticize them to the point where it ignores the fact that they fuck up any place they go just as surely as their hated tourists. The atmosphere is easy and the languid pacing feels right. It really is a beautiful book. And the ending still gets the shivers running up your spine.

  • Laura
    2018-12-09 02:38

    From BBC Radio 4 - Book at Bedtime:Our first Book of Bedtime of 2016 celebrates twenty years since the publication of Alex Garland's cult novel, The Beach. Joe Dempsie reads this thrilling tale of paradise sought and lost.Jaded young backpacker Richard is in Thailand looking for a place unspoilt by tourism. An encounter with a dead man leaves him with a map for 'the beach', a select traveller community cut off from the degradations of vacationing westerners. He joins the commune, but his breadcrumb trail, fantasies of Vietnam War films, and very real armed drug guards risks turning Eden into hell on earth.'Lord of the Flies' meets 'Heart of Darkness' among the beautiful, young drop-outs, dreamers and drug-takers of the mid-1990s.Abridged by ..... Sara DaviesProduced by ..... Jenny ThompsonRead by ..... Joe DempsieMusic ..... Narayan by The Prodigy.http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06tr96hJust noticed that I've already watched to this movie some time ago.

  • Ryan
    2018-11-16 23:43

    Deciding to re-read this book over fifteen years since reading it last had me a bit wary. I worried that it would feel dated; something a younger me thought was powerful, but an adult me no longer connects with.I was wrong.This book is every bit as energetic and sun-soaked as it was the first time around, and left me wondering what the characters would have made of the world to come. They seek to find someplace new because tourists and crowds swallow up every other interesting place on the trail. They gripe about people travelling halfway around the world but still wanting the comforts of home. What would they have made about people wandering the world over, but doing so while still staying tethered with their technology.THE BEACH is checkered by the film it spawned, which isn't the worst thing in the world...but makes it's very different ending that much more powerful when it arrives.This was a welcome trip down memory lane...now where's my passport?

  • Nur Seza
    2018-12-09 00:52

    Çok sevdiğim filminin kitap uyarlaması olduğunu öğrenince gittiğim bütün kitap evlerine sorup, internetten araştırıp bir türlü bulamayınca da umudu kesmiştim yıllar önce. Bu yıl bir arkadaşımın doğumgünümde anlamlı bir hediye verebilmek için yayıneviyle dahi irtibat kurduğunu ve hatta yayınevinin kitaptan bir haber olduğunu öğrenip yabancı dilde ki ekitap haline razı olmuşken Kadıköy'de bir sahaf şans eseri sadece bir tane 99 basımı basımı bulup büyük bir sürpriz yaptı. Kitabı keyifle uzata uzata okudum zaten alex garland'ın kalemi mükemmel ancak filmi defalarca kez izlediğim için ana karakter richard'ı di caprio ile bağdaştırmaktan ya da kitabı senaryolaştırırken yapılan değişikliklerle karşılaştırmadan kendimi alamadım. Çizgi filmlerin, tekken ve st fighter gibi çok sevdiğim video oyunların bahsi geçtiği satırları aşkla okudum. Sanırım nazarımda tek eksik romanın finaline doğru gelen vahşetin gereğinden fazla iğreti edici olmasıydı.

  • Jason Baldwin-Stephens
    2018-12-17 22:44

    The copy of The Beach that I read has a quote from a review from The Oregonion on the first page. The reviewer compared this novel to Lord of The Flies, Animal Farm and On The Road, and mentioned that it was a postmodern update on all three of them. That really is the best way to describe this novel.Other ways to describe it are: outstanding, profane and disturbing.My only regret in reading this novel is that I never got around to it until now instead of when it was first published in 1997, as it is one that I hope to read many times over throughout the rest of my life.