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.