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The Beach [Paperback]

Alex Garland
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (395 customer reviews)

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Book Description

26 Jun 1997
Richard is drawn into a strange conversation in a hotel. He hears of a secret island Garden of Eden hidden in the scattered islands of a Thai marine park. Next morning, he finds a map pinned to his door and the man who put it there has slashed his wrists. The challenge is irresistible and he sets off on a perilous journey in search of Shangri-La.

Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (26 Jun 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140258418
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140270051
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 11.2 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (395 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 301,603 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

In our ever-shrinking world, where popular Western culture seems to have infected every nation on the planet, it is hard to find even a small niche of unspoiled land--forget searching for pristine islands or continents. This is the situation in Alex Garland's debut novel, The Beach. Human progress has reduced Eden to a secret little beach near Thailand. In the tradition of grand adventure novels, Richard, a rootless traveller rambling around Thailand on his way somewhere else, is given a hand-drawn map by a madman who calls himself Daffy Duck. He and two French travellers set out on a journey to find this paradise.

What makes this a truly satisfying novel is the number of levels on which it operates. On the surface it's a fast-paced adventure novel; at another level it explores why we search for these utopias, be they mysterious lost continents or small island communes. Garland weaves a gripping and thought-provoking narrative that suggests we are, in fact, such products of our Western culture that we cannot help but pollute and ultimately destroy the very sanctuary we seek.


A gripping adventure, and a fascinating jigsaw (The Times)

Fresh, fast-paced, compulsive and clever (Nick Hornby)

A white-knuckle ride into the heart of darkness (Sunday Times)

Lord of the Flies and The Magus lurk at the roots of this novel, but Garland reshapes them with panache into something terrifyingly new (Mail on Sunday)

A mesmerising, knuckle-clenching read (Maxim)

Winningly compulsive, brilliantly conceived (Q)

Garland's prose is stunningly lucid. Addictive and compelling (Spectator)

A highly confident debut...this incisive novel may well come to be regarded as a defining text in the history of imaginative travel writing (Daily Telegraph)

Alex Garland is writing a brand new kind of adventure novel. His style is dangerously simple yet altogether captivating (Douglas Rushkoff)

An exceptional first novel...An action novel that provokes subtle responses, The Beach takes in ideas about man's inevitable progress from noble savage to social breakdown (and) the related tradition of nature versus art (The Times Literary Supplement)

Garland has written a powerful and frighteningly believable novel (Company)

Precise and speedy prose, with good old-fashioned romantic adventure spiced up with deadpan authorial irony (Guardian) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
Vietnam, me love you long time. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
It is a phenomenal and moving book. You can't put it down without knowing what will happen next. I'm a slow reader- I read 'east of eden' by John Steinbeck, in 5 months. 'The Beach' is about the same size and I read it in less than a week. The story makes you realize that we are actually destroying this world at our heart's content. Richard hated going back to civilization. He wanted to stay in paradise because he saw all the destruction whereas others were blind to it. This book also shows how your mind and feelings can change- how paradise can quite easily turn into hell. It was a great experience to read and my advice is- READ THE BOOK- DO NOT SEE THE FILM, IT'S A DISASTER- IT RUINS IT!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome back to the valley of death 4 Jan 2001
By A Customer
I appreciate that a lot of people have enjoyed this book so don't want to go over the top with praise...I think the references to Vietnam give the paradise dark overtones i.e. paradise cannot last forever, history will scar and repeat. The knowledge of the main character that he is going crazy, psychosis, i believe is excellent and catalogues in depth how Richard is influcnced by his surroundings and the death of Daffy. Ultimately, most readers will not completely understand the connections between Vietnam and the beach, aside from the geographical location. I think this is part of the intrigue; the book is dark and mysterious and encourages multiple readings to try and understand it. Even if you only grasp the idea of the break-down of civilisation, the book is compelling and the description of Asia leave a deep impact on the imagination. If you do however, believe that the author is too-hyped up on Vietnam, read his second novel, The Tesseract and you will see a completely different type of book, though with a complex make-up. In short an excellent first novel and well-worth its money as it can be read so many times without losing the edge. On a lighter note, Leonado DiCaprio was a pathetic cast for Richard, with no dark side and a sad attempt at going round the bend.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the film... 10 Mar 2013
By gee
Format:Kindle Edition
Stuff in the book that's really exciting...that they leave out in the film. extra things added in the film that make me dislike Richard...I like him in the book.x
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite 'Eden'... 27 April 2007
This book is very well-written, capturing the reader's attention from the start. A travel-fiction set in Thailand, following a backpacker as he searches for the perfect 'Eden', a place unsullied by other tourists; 'The Beach'.

For a first novel it's fantastic; it kept me going back and reading. I read half of it in one stint, but then had to slow down a little due to work. The characters are believable and the society in which they work is convincing too. It is funny (if you're into black humour...), witty, and human.

My only problem, possibly due to hype from the film (which I haven't seen yet...), was that I felt the book was building and building to a huge climax, and then when it got to the end I felt a little letdown and like the payoff I was expecting hadn't arrived. The book is definitely worth reading and I'd recommend it to anybody, but just don't go in with expectations. Chances are it will differ from them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I really enjoyed the Beach, and finished it in 2 days flat, but I have to agree with another reviewer that it was pretty derivative stuff - well-written, exciting, but if you've read Lord of the Flies and seen Apocolypse Now, you know exactly what's going to happen - My enjoyment was greatly aided by having stayed on the Kao San Road - anyone who's travelled round Thailand will love it if for some reason they haven't already read it. As enjoyable as a decent Hollywood action flick (as it has now become) but not the greatest debut in years, and not a cult classic, except perhaps amongst starry-eyed Gap Year students who do too much pot. (Though maybe that's enough to make it one....)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Garlands passport to success....... 24 July 1999
By A Customer
Having read the book during the World Cup weeks of Summer 1998, I decided to re-read ahead of the pending Leonardo Di-Caprio movie release. It is and always will be "a classic" of the travel theme novels. Whilst there are a lot of un-answered questions about the characters and plot that you ask yourself when reading such as " How do the residents of The Beach deliver their wish you were here cards to friends and relatives ???", you become swept up in the community free living that surely must be most peoples escapism dream. It will be a very hard act to follow for the author, but then if the movie is a huge success, he may not even need to work again......
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars read this before you watch the film 13 Aug 2003
I read this book before watching the film, and I loved it. The descriptions are so vivid you get transported to another world. My only complaint was that I found it hard to empathise with the main character, Richard. I think this is true of the film as well.
Richard is a backpacker who has set off alone to Thailand. On his first night on the Kao San Road he meets Daffy, a fellow traveller (a very scary character! - this haunted me after seeing the film!). The next morning, Richard goes to find Daffy and sees him dead in his hotel room, having slit his wrists. However Daffy has left behind a map to the 'beach' - and the setting for the rest of the story.
The beach is an amazing community on a private island. The idyllic beauty of the area is overshadowed by the dope farmers that the islanders share their home with. This adds danger - especially when Richard and others are nearly caught in the dope fields by the Thai farmers with their guns.
Eventually the island life begins to fall apart, with strangers arriving at the island and people being bitten by sharks. The leader of the community refuses to let anyone go to the mainland for hospital treatment and this causes a rift in the community.
This book has stayed with me since I read it about 4 years ago. I have read it several times since, even though I hardly ever read a book more than once. And I was one of the few people who actually enjoyed the film, although I thought the book was better. I think my knowledge of the book enhanced my enjoyment of the film. This book made me want to visit Thailand.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
Published 1 day ago by jim hole
3.0 out of 5 stars Engaging but irksome.
The world the characters inhabit is beautiful and mesmerising. The characters themselves and the plot feel shallow and half-baked - the protagonist Richard particularly irritated... Read more
Published 5 days ago by etroy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
brilliant book, thousand times better than the film
Published 20 days ago by Anthony C.
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing like the fact it's a thousand times better
The way the book is written will most likely have you finishing it within a weekend. It's not just because of how gripping it is but it's how each chapter lasts about 2/3 pages and... Read more
Published 22 days ago by Paul
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning book. I read it about 12 years ago and returned to it. I had...
Stunning book. I read it about 12 years ago and returned to it. I had forgotten how different the story is from the film. I wish this book went on forever. Read more
Published 25 days ago by S. Duffell
5.0 out of 5 stars Very quick delivery that i was very pleased with and the book is...
Very quick delivery that i was very pleased with and the book is exactly the way i wanted it.
Published 25 days ago by Ella Pope
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic
This book is a marvel, great writing and imagery. Helps you really escape and I was engrossed from the start, though it gets darker towards the end the character development is... Read more
Published 1 month ago by book dude
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
First published in 1996 this book had passed me by. I think many of us have dreamed about finding an isolated beach with plenty of food and fresh water and getting away from it... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kevin
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read.
If you love Thailand and fancy island life read this.
I have read it about 4 times now and it inspired me to visit Maya Bay. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Barto
3.0 out of 5 stars Recommended as a beach read
Whilst I found this book a little hard to get into at the beginning, I did get gripped by the story after a few pages. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mme Suzanne Lageard
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