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The Beach Paperback – 27 Jan 2000

411 customer reviews

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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: 11 x 5.8 x 18 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (411 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 773,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

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. --Amazon.com --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review

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 alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book

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Vietnam, me love you long time. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Feb. 2000
Format: Paperback
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 By A Customer on 4 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a particularly tricky book to read if you've already seen the movie, as many people will have. Discovering that Richard, the main protagonist - who we all know is "really" Leonardo DiCaprio - is actually a Brit who is given to making fun of the vacuity of American tourists causes a little bit of an adjustment shock.

But once you've got past that minor issue, this is an absorbing read. Garland is not a great writer by any stretch of the imagination, but he very successfully captures that typically restless, almost-spiritual quest for a pure travel experience that backpackers strive for, against the backdrop of a Thailand that is rapidly being 'contaminated' (as he sees it) by mass tourism. Drawn into a drop-out community living in isolation from the world on a secret idyllic beach, Richard is confronted with the question of whether it is actually possible 'to re-create Eden' with a community of people who have little in common except their shared discovery, and their need to keep it a secret from the outside world. And is the availability of virtually limitless, free marijuana a godsend or a curse?

The descriptions of the beach would give anyone travel envy, but the book has a deeply unsettling core, especially in the recurring image of 'Daffy Duck', the crazy Scotsman who gives Richard a map to the beach before killing himself. Ultimately, most readers will end up half-wishing they could have an adventure like Richard's, and half being glad that they actually stayed at home in Watford.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By B. Wright VINE VOICE on 27 April 2007
Format: Paperback
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 on 24 July 1999
Format: Paperback
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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