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The Tesseract [Paperback]

Alex Garland
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)

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Book Description

26 Aug 1999

Gripping from the first pages, Garland's new novel is set over three hours during one night in Manila. With the pace and suspense of THE BEACH this novel intertwines three stories: the shady dealings of gangsters, the tautly and emotionally drawn tale of a Phillipino family and the violent lives of a gang of street kids, until their different lives collide in a shattering finale. It is beautifully written and unputdownable.

'Is Alex Garland the new Graham Greene? After THE TESSERACT the question needs to be asked ... a powerful narrative drive, exotic locations that unfold like a corrupt and mysterious flower, and a moody intelligence that holds everything together' - JG Ballard

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New edition edition (26 Aug 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140258426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140258424
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 10.6 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 619,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

A single evening in Manila hints at shared consciousness and the circular nature of time and experience. More ambitious than his successful debut, The Beach, Alex Garland's second novel follows three seemingly disparate stories that converge just this side of possible. Opening pages are reminiscent of a Raymond Chandler detective story: the dirty hotel room that "didn't know it was a hotel, or had forgotten"; the flinty, deep thinking protagonist; a meeting with rough-cut thugs. But just when we expect the arrival of the stock sultry woman, the cast of characters begins to assume the more recognisable aspects of ordinary life--to eerie effect.

Garland shows a talent for finely crafted phrases that emboss an image and encapsulate a moment. One minor character's brief sensory flashback provides more human insight than the pages of descriptive overload in the usual thriller. The Tesseract is an exciting tale that never stoops to the level of popcorn storytelling. --Samantha Starmer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Astonishing . . . A brilliantly structured, surprisingly compassionate novel, disguised as an exotic, speedy thriller (Mail on Sunday )

Proves defiantly that Garland is far from a one-hit wonder (Time Out )

A powerful narrative drive, exotic locations that unfold like a corrupt and mysterious flower, and a moody intelligence that holds everything together (J.G. Ballard ) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
There was no bright colour in the room. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Close to the gripping read that was 'The Beach', Garland's second bestseller shares the originality and deepness portrayed beforehand.

From the beginning of this book comes an air of curiosity, as the reader is sent spiralling into a web of episodes, leading to the inevitable marring of violence.
The story begins in (the highly appropriate) 'roach infested hotel' as Sean awaits the arrival of Gangster Don Pepe. Rising is the immediate cloud of mystery, all but setting the pace, tone and estranged excitement that remains throughout.
Acknowledged is the difficulty the young author faced as he aimed to reiterate the sheer quality of 'The Beach'. Although somewhat disorderly and at times slow paced, in grasping the cultural background and social landscape of one country, Garland has put together a touching, compassionate, yet no less satisfactory novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At first confusing, but ultimately gripping. 4 May 2004
Having read Alex Garland's "The Beach" and the "28 Days Later" film script I was looking forward to reading "The Tesseract". Garland's dark, descriptive and gripping writing makes his books so hard to put down, so I was expecting more of the same.
Basically the book tells the story of three scenarios which, although at first seem separate in their own way, are ultimately brought together through a series of events and circumstances. Firstly we have Sean, waiting for mob gangster Don Pepe in the most run down forgotten hotel in Manila fighting with his thoughts and emotions. Next we have a Filipino family living out in the suburbs in Manila and lastly we have some street kids.
So, first the good points. Garland manages to provide sound descriptions of all the characters personalities and backgrounds through a series of flashbacks, memories and thoughts. I was sometimes confused as to why Garland was describing certain incidents from some of the characters pasts, however when reading on further things became a lot clearer and you realise how cleverly written this book really is. Also, although "The Tesseract" is not as graphic as some parts of "The Beach" there are still moments of shocking brutality and dark twisted humour to keep the most sceptical of Garland readers entertained.

Bad points? Well, if you're not committed to reading this book when it starts veering off the track slightly then this will definitely be a hard read for you. I have read this book twice and fully understood and enjoyed it better the second time, getting to grip more with the characters and their individual situations. On the first read I found that I could not empathize with many of the characters and this made the final act of the book fall short of my expectations.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stick with it, it just gets better! 18 Jan 2003
I felt an initial disappointment from the first page of The Tesseract. Having loved the style and sharpness of The Beach, The Tesseract at first appeared rather derivative and no where near as ambitious. However, as the story slowly drew me in I began to appreciate it's unique format. When Garland breaks off from one character to another the suspense is excruciating. Just as this new character starts to take shape and you stop worrying about the last one he will break off again into an entirely new story, yet all are cleverly interlinked. In The Tesseract Garland demonstrates the perfection of a slow boil.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic - a uniquely engaging read 7 Sep 2000
In a slightly different perspective to most reviewers I read the Tesseract first and then backfilled later with The Beach.
The unique point for me was the structure of the story. Garland creates a series of beautifully crafted plotlines that give depth to both the characters and events. His attention to detail and use of Filipino history and culture creates a gritty reality where you can almost feel the heat and humidity. Having lived and worked in the Philippines I really felt the book come alive and each page brought new twists and layers of subtlety. By the end I felt less as though I'd read a book than unfolded an intricate puzzle. For me, this made the whole experience immensely satisfying.
By comparison I found the Beach, although a good read, relatively mundane. I can see why so many readers failed to make the jump. I just hope that Alex Garland continues to produce books in the vein of the Tesseract.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacks body 24 Feb 2009
By Sosh
The story starts intriguingly enough, and then fragments into a number of seemingly unrelated subplots. This isn't neccessarily bad, but I felt that none of the characters were really fleshed out, and the stories themselves seemed more like rough sketches than real tales. It's a short book, and perhaps if it was a little longer it would have worked better. In the end though I wish I had spent the time reading something else.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex & Powerful 22 July 2002
By Lendrick VINE VOICE
After being unimpressed by The Beach I almost didn't bother with this but I glad I did.
This is a complex book which demand the readers attention and doesn't spell everything out. It won't be liked by those who want the author to give them everything 'on a plate'. I can understand why those who thought so highly of The Beach might struggle a bit with this.
The core of the novel unfolds over a few hours of an evening in Manilla. Around this through a variety of flash backs Garland paints a powerful picture of modern day Manilla and the people who live their. There aren't really any heroes or villains in this just people coping with their everyday lives. I felt totally caught up in the lives of the characters and gripped by the climatic ending. Its a book I'll be thinking about for a long time to come.
Garland has been called the 'new Graham Greene' and on the basis of this the comparisons are entirely justified. I just hope the success of The Beach doesn't encourage him to write more in that vein.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Page-turner
Brilliant quick page-turner. Just like The Beach, I devoured this book. Garland clearly knows his craft. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kieron Hegarty
3.0 out of 5 stars its not the beach!
While i enjoyed it it didnt really feel like a finished novel, had some nice ideas but didnt explore them enough and didnt really feel finished, more like a work in progress
Published 12 months ago by kindleaddict
2.0 out of 5 stars Limp
So I'm not the first to open my review with 'I loved The Beach'...with The Tesseract I felt like it was a completely difference writer. Read more
Published 21 months ago by S. Perry
2.0 out of 5 stars shouldn't be compared to the beach....
the book tells three separate stories around a flurry of violence in manila. having traveled through the philippines, the author has done his homework (he has aobviously... Read more
Published on 31 Mar 2012 by Gcrikey
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
If you want to read about a bunch of drugged up students on a gap year then read The Beach. Instead if you want a complex, engaging, multilayered novel which deals with the... Read more
Published on 27 Jun 2011 by Seoman
3.0 out of 5 stars A good stand-alone read.
I have just finished this book this morning and I, like many others, picked up this book after thoroughly enjoying his previous novel The Beach. Read more
Published on 15 Sep 2010 by Mrs. S. Payne
2.0 out of 5 stars Fragmented mess
The whole backdrop to the story is simple enough, but it goes backwards into flashback and irrelevant little side subplots which add nothing to the plot and at times is confusing... Read more
Published on 7 Jun 2010 by Paul M
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious Garbage
I bought this book on the strength of favourable critical comment. The front cover boasts a quote from the Mail on Sunday "Astonishing - A brilliantly structured, surprisingly... Read more
Published on 28 Mar 2010 by RoverP
4.0 out of 5 stars The Guy Richie book
A cleverly written story of three stories within. Its a bit like watching lock stock and two smoking barrels where individual stories smoothly come to a head (except set in the... Read more
Published on 5 Jan 2009 by Mr. J. E. Reynolds
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the Beach, still worth a read.
By the writer of The Beach, a book set in the underbelly of Manila. I recently read Brownout on Breadfruit Boulevard by Timothy Mo, and was keen to read more set in the... Read more
Published on 29 Oct 2008 by soffitta1
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