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The Beach [Paperback]

Alex Garland
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (585 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 4 2004

The Khao San Road, Bangkok -- first stop for the hordes of rootless young Westerners traveling in Southeast Asia. On Richard's first night there, in a low-budget guest house, a fellow traveler slashes his wrists, bequeathing to Richard a meticulously drawn map to "the Beach."

The Beach, as Richard has come to learn, is the subject of a legend among young travelers in Asia: a lagoon hidden from the sea, with white sand and coral gardens, freshwater falls surrounded by jungle, plants untouched for a thousand years. There, it is rumored, a carefully selected international few have settled in a communal Eden.

Haunted by the figure of Mr. Duck -- the name by which the Thai police have identified the dead man -- and his own obsession with Vietnam movies, Richard sets off with a young French couple to an island hidden away in an archipelago forbidden to tourists. They discover the Beach, and it is as beautiful and idyllic as it is reputed to be. Yet over time it becomes clear that Beach culture, as Richard calls it, has troubling, even deadly, undercurrents.

Spellbinding and hallucinogenic, The Beach by Alex Garland -- both a national bestseller and his debut -- is a highly accomplished and suspenseful novel that fixates on a generation in their twenties, who, burdened with the legacy of the preceding generation and saturated by popular culture, long for an unruined landscape, but find it difficult to experience the world firsthand.

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Product Description

From Amazon

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 traveler 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 travelers 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.

From Publishers Weekly

Garland's amphetamine-paced first novel plunks some young European expats down on a remote island in the Gulf of Thailand. There, tired of the prepackaged experience available to them in the West, they try to create their own paradise. The narrator is an Englishman named Richard. Born in 1974, he has grown up on popular culture and is a fan of video games and Vietnam War movies. While staying at a creaky Bangkok guest house, he finds a carefully drawn map left by his angry, doped-up neighbor, a suicide who called himself Mr. Daffy Duck. The map points the way to a legendary beach where, it's rumored, a few favored international wanderers have settled. Richard's new friends, Etienne and Francoise, convince him to help them find the island. But Richard, inspired by sudden anxiety about Etienne, gives a copy of the map to two American backpackers-an act that later haunts him as keenly as the ghost of Mr. Duck. Richard and his French companions find the island: half is covered by a marijuana plantation patrolled by well-armed guards; the other half consists of a gorgeous beach and forest where a small band of wandering souls live a communal life dominated by a gently despotic woman named Sal. At times, Garland seems to be trying to say something powerful about the perils of desiring a history-less Eden. But his evocations of Vietnam, Richard's hallucinatory chats with the dead Mr. Duck and various other feints in the direction of thematic gravity don't add up to much. Garland is a good storyteller, though, and Richard's nicotine-fueled narrative of how the denizens of the beach see their comity shatter and break into factions is taut with suspense, even if the bloody conclusion offers few surprises. 150,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo; foreign rights sold in the U.K., Germany, Holland, Italy.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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The first I heard of the beach was in Bangkok, on the Ko Sanh Road. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome! Jan. 10 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had a hard time getting into the book, but once the story line got better i finished it in a cpl of days, great story! this book is way better then the movie, read it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Alex Garlands "The Beach" Aug. 26 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you have seen the film it isn't nearly as good as the book, this is a must read. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Attempted Utopia Sept. 4 2012
By Capital
There is something about ‘attempted’ utopia stories that best reveal what animals we human beings are. When you strip away the laws and rules of society what do we become? But the level of intrigue in this book goes beyond how close human beings can get to creating ‘paradise’. If you are a young adult who has gone ‘traveling’ or plans to this story should have a place on your bookshelf. The story propels the reader. It is believable in a way that only the best fiction can be. Garland seems to have a good sense of when the reader is getting comfortable on ‘the beach’ and knows the best ways to keep the reader entertained. Anyone who has ever overstayed a vacation will be able to identify with this book. As well as anyone who despite best intentions and strong ideals has been s**t on by things beyond their control... so pretty much everyone.The Beach is about losing innocence and recognizing that human beings when pushed to their limit can become selfish creatures. Check out my first published work Defenseless
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5.0 out of 5 stars the beach! July 31 2012
By stephm
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is perfect for those who love the taste of adventure. Even if you've seen the movie, the book gives you a glimpse of things that failed to be highlighted in the theatrical version.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best ending... March 11 2011
By Robyn C
I loved this book from start to almost finish. I found it a lot better than the movie. Having seen the movie before reading the book, I enjoyed that it gave me something extra to visualize whenever the island was described in the book. The book went downhill after page 424 when the drug lords make their threats and the group subsequently turns on the main character in some sort of drugged frenzy. I thought that was a little overdone... I would have liked too if the epilogue hadn't been so rushed. Otherwise, the book was great. A very smooth read that kept me consistantly entertained.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss It! June 25 2005
The Beach is Alex Garland's amazing first novel. Visionary and disturbing, this book is a must read.
Richard is a traveler from Europe who leaves everything behind him after being jilted by a lover. While in Thailand he meets a man who leaves him a map to a paradise beach. After deciding to share this treasure with two fellow travelers, they set off.
The journey to the beach is difficult for it is illegal for foreigners to go there, but after buying off a man who owns a boat and swimming a considerable distance they make it to the island. Before they even have time to enjoy their discovery, however, they land into danger when they discover that the island is used as sort of a mega-greenhouse for marijuana. They still decide to press on, though and after some time they find the fabled beach. A bit disappointed at first, they eventually grow to love the beach and the entire community of people they find living there. Integrating into the lifestyle there is done very quickly and before they know it, months have passed. Their languid, carefree lifestyle lulls them into a sense of false security, though, and they find themselves unprepared for the disasters that lay ahead.
Filled with pop culture references and very violent imagery this book may best appeal to the twenty-something generation. In a way that's a shame, though, because the story behind all of the icons and imagery is intense and enjoyable. At times the story gets almost too disgusting and graphic but none of it is gratuitous since it is all important to the plot.
I heavily recommend this book to all of the members of my generation and I also hope some of the younger and older generations will give it a chance too.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Beach by Alex Garland July 5 2010
This book is great wether you are just looking for a good story or something with a little more substance. It won me over with a beautiful, deeper message. I highly recommend you read this. I wouldn't bother with the movie if I were you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book! June 30 2010
Great read, I enjoyed it. I never really considered reading the book after watching the movie two or three times over the years. But I picked it up and flipped through it in a bookstore/coffee shop in Thailand, after reading a few pages I bought it and couldn't put it down. The plot is very different from how it was portrayed in the movie once they arrive on the beach, so it was like taking in a completely fresh story.
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