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The Beach [Paperback]

Alex Garland
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (387 customer reviews)

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Book Description

27 Jan 2000
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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; Film tie-in edition edition (27 Jan 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140270051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140270051
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 11.2 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (387 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 574,926 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Beach 21 Aug 2006
This has to be one of my favourite all-time novels. 'The Beach' is a stunning combination of an excellent plotline and a great style of writing.

Garland's first novel touches deep into the soul and draws parallels between modern life and war through themes such as the jungle and the contrast between paradise and hell on the same island. I don't know if Garland intended it - but I consdier The Beach to be one of the most meaningful books to come out of the 90's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! 15 Jun 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I saw the film years ago (and love it) but as usual the book is much better. I would definitely recommend this to anyone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars First 50 pages are golden 21 July 2012
By Dooscah
The first 50 or so pages are some of the best I've read. It'll grip you tightly with it's rich narration of exotic adventure, accuracy of detail and the way it effortlessly dances away from meaningless bells and whistles. I've re-read that first portion about 4/5 times, motivated on each occasion by marvel as to why I wouldn't have finished such an engrossing text which kicked off so well.

It's difficult to describe. Garland has a way of drawing me in so naturally with his words that I sometimes forget I'm reading a book at all. The language is too accessible and relatable not to feel closely connected to it.

All too often, authors are far too complicated with their creative writing. It almost always results in an obscure mess of terms that completely sidetracks my cognitive perception from the very place, feeling or character they were trying to portray.

For instance "the moonless blossom shimmered the forceful rays of untoward light into the wind bringing a sense of peace", Garland never does this stuff and it's what I admire most about him - This fine balance between simplicity and effective down-to-earth description is golden.

After those first 50-55 pages though when we meet the two Americans Sammy and Zeph, my attention veers off and I merely begin reading "words" without a care for who said what in the dialogue. Their initial surfer-dude twang is painful enough and although short-lived, that point marks the change of what was a really connecting narrative experience abroad into a play of monotony. And that fatally damaged my momentum to continue reading.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 4 days 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 12 days ago by Mme Suzanne Lageard
5.0 out of 5 stars Paradise
Great read! After having watched the film previously, the book goes into far more detail and does not disappoint. 5/5!
Published 1 month ago by David
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read
Great book! Easy to read but thought provoking - gripping and interesting thoughts on alternative living and the idea of utopia!
Published 1 month ago by Emily Houseago
5.0 out of 5 stars Trippy, but gripping!
After watching the film based on the book many years ago I finally got to reading it. And how different it is. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Harrison Ridley
5.0 out of 5 stars second time around
Second time reading this book, and it still reads so effortlessly. Garland is able to describe scenes very well, and I feel as though somehow, I have visited the beach, during the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by imagnocean
5.0 out of 5 stars Awful cover, great book
Wonderful book, a real page turner. This should be required reading for any thriller writer, which is quite amazing considering it's his first book. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr. A. Bond
4.0 out of 5 stars the beach
Good book. Not the genre I normally read, but found it exciting - also horrific. Don't know if I would recommend it.
Published 2 months ago by Delia Plail
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I bought this to compliment my trip to Koh Tao and Ko Pha Ngan. Very well written and enthralling novel. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr. E. Langhorne
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I really enjoyed reading this book. I found it was cleverly written, gripping and interesting. The only reason I didn't give it five stars is because I believe the ending is... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Francesca
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