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They usually are though, aren't they, books?!
I've seen the film of The Beach several times and really enjoyed it. Then someone gave me a copy of the book and I gave it a go.
This is an original story and unlike anything else I've ever read. The central characters are vivid and believable and the pace is quick despite the potential for it to drag in the description of the slow and often idyllic life of the camp. I think the film-makers probably jazzed up the camp for visual purposes and some of the scenes of illness in the book were awful to read and imagine - I think this was definitely underplayed in the film.
Perhaps anyone reading this now, having seen the film, will forever see Leonardo di Caprio in their minds along with the elaborate camp which the castaways live in. Not a bad thing but give the book a chance. I think it offers such vivid description and down-to-earth and realistic characters that your memories of the film may soon melt away and you'll be caught up in Garland's drug-influenced, often horrifying tale of what happens when we try to create paradise and end up living a nightmare.
The Beach is a book by Alex Garland, it was made into a big screen feature film by Danny Boyle and starred Leonardo Di Caprio, but it really didn´t hit the heights of paranoia of the book.
The book follows Richard a young English Traveller in Thailand who in a sleazy little hostel bumps into a Scotsman called Daffy Duck, who gives him a map to a hidden paradise island for travellers, where people go to be free and live, love and have fun.
Daffy mysteriously commits suicide, but Richard and Étienne and Françoise, two good looking french travellers decide to have an adventure and find this beautiful place.
The guys find the island, but are not welcomed by the travellers who orginally found it with Daffy, Sal a sturdy American girl and Bugs, her lover. The three are allowed to stay to ensure they don´t tell others about the place, but there is a clear hierarchy to the community and they clearly aren´t welcome in it.
However eventually a greater foe hits the islanders and they have to work together to survive. As a back plot, Richard falls for the french girl and this creates even greater tension within this close, closed community of travellers.
I liked the book, because it had a real edge to it, that of free spirited travellers who actually aren´t that free spirited, it was similar to Lord of the Flies in many ways, but perhaps not as vicious in many ways.
I enjoyed the writing style which was descriptive and flowing, the speech made sense and sounded like real travellers whilst you really do get a feel for a paradise island that people would be prepared to fight and die for.
Overall its a good book, and a better book than film. A paperback copy is available for next to nothing on Amazon Marketplace and it is well worth a read for anyone off to Bangkok or Phuket this summer as required fiction.
Alex Garland's The Beach is a novel that really grew on me. It lingered for a few days, and to me, that means a book has generally done its job. The plot revolves around a young backpacker named Richard, who travels to Bangkok, and meets his neighbour in the hotel room, who promptly kills himself, but leaves Richard a map to an Eden-like Beach first.
Richard arrives and finds the Beach to have a few fellow settlers, with whom he becomes fast friends as he tries to make the Beach his own personal getaway. However, Richard finds himself enduring an existential crisis, and the novel explores how the Beach is a metaphor for this, a playing ground for him to either succumb to or excise his demons.
This is quite a shocking novel at times; the descriptions are often graphic, but it is also a heady examination of the romanticised notions we have of a quaint getaway to a hidden Beach. It is postmodern in form surely, as it dispenses with these ideas and follows through with it right to its ending, which is far from optimistic, although sadly this was curtailed in the Leonardo DiCaprio film (which otherwise did get a lot right).
It's a novel sure to win comparisons to the likes of Lord of the Flies, and while it does not in any way measure up to that masterpiece, it is nevertheless a brisk and engaging read that's fairly simple to read while having some clever ideas about the psychology of such a scenario, and the effect that morality-free isolation can have.
I recommend giving this a read before checking out the film, because it certainly ends better.
The Beach written by Alex Garland.
Amazing film about a young backpacker named Richard travelling in Thailand, he meets some doped up odd ball in a shabby hostel and this odd ball reveals to him about this secret island just off Thailand and tells Richard about the magic of this place he called "the beach" Richard goes to bed that night thinking nothing more of it. The next day he finds a map pinned to his dorm door a map of how to get to the island drawn by Daffy (the oddball), he then finds that Daffy has killed himself. In this same hostel Richard has set eyes on a beautiful french girl who unfortunately is travelling with her boyfriend.
Richard shares the details of this map with the french couple and they decide to set out in search of this paradise island. Along there journey they come across a dope field which is manned by Thai farmers.
When they eventually get to The Beach they are met by mixed responses from the traveller inhabitants on the island, who are keen to keep their paradise a secret. Much of the film is focused on the island life and development as the island becomes an interest to some other travellers Richard had met along the way and given a copy of the map too. This doesn't go down well with the camp, or the dope farmers on the island.
I'm obviously not going to tell you then ending.
This book is a great read and much better than the film, though i do enjoy the film too.
If your heading off travelling this is a book to pop in your backpack.
Its a great travellers story.
I read first read this book 10 years ago sat in a hostel in Sydney kings cross. You are always able to trade books you have read with other travellers in these hostels, however once I had read this one I couldn't bring myself to trade it on.
I picked up the book earlier this year and sat down and read it again, and it was as gripping as the first time I had read it and I found it hard to put it down.
I love this book, and i love my copy of the book it travelled half way around the world with me and who knows what places it had been to before I got my hands on it.
If you love travel I think this is a book for you
The Beach does exactly what all good fiction should do- transports you to a whole 'nother place with just a few well placed words.
It follows Richard, a british backpacker in Thailand, who feels simultaniously under and overwhelmed by the whole experience.
Through Richard's first person view it is easy to feel that you are actually in the bustling overhyped world of Bangkok, and when he gets a way out of it via a mad, suicidal scotsman called Daffy Duck the relief is palpable.
Daffy has given Richard a map to a secret paradise island, a commune of like-minded travellers who choose to live off the beaten track.
However, being the immature type Richard shows off about this discovery to the pretty french girl in the next room (and her boyfriend... he's not just immature, he's somewhat dumb too!), and they join Richard on his quest to find this paradise.
It's not that simple though, as they can't get boats to go there, and Richard gets scared. In a particually stupid move he gves a copy of the map to a couple of American stoners, in the vauge hope that they will somehow protect him in case it all goes wrong.
After swimming to the island the travellers find out that the island is owned by cannabis farmers, and the commune is allowed to stay there as long as they don't bring too many people in....
However, for a while all actually is paradise, more or less, and the book settles into it's real beauty, describing the island with such clarity that you can almost taste the rice!
Sadly it can't last, and the paradise becomes slowly more of a nightmare
I am sure a lot of people will have come to this book from the film, and while I did enjoy the film, I found it a rather watered down version of the book, so if you liked the film you will probably like the book more.
The characterisation in this book is a bit odd, Richard is essentially very selfish and childish, his frequent vietnam fantasies make this book undeservedly slide into surreal territory, and there is no "payoff", as he stays the same throughout.
The supporting characters didn't help much, although they had great descriptions they were never allowed to really show the reader who they were (although I suppose this is in keeping with Richard- he just didn't really notice what they were like)
The book's real character is the island, and I can't fault it on this
I loved this book, and it made me a lifelong fan of the small but significant works of Alex Garland.
This is my favourite book. It is the perfect book to take on holiday with you. I simply got drawn into it, reading it 'on the beach' in Greece, in the sun. I finished the book in 2 days, which is unheard of for me, i couldn't put it down, and was disappointed when I'd finished, only because i didn't want to stop reading!
I think the book is so much better than the film. The book has so much detail and makes you feel as though you are there living it as you are reading.
If you want a good book to read, especially on holiday, about adventure, travelling, love, friendship, relationships and beautifully places that will get your imagination sparkling this is the book to read this summer.
I have to say that the characters i imagined in the book are totally different to those i watched in the film.
'The Khao San Road, Bangkok - first stop on the backpacker trail. The Beach is a legend among young travellers in Asia: white sands circling a lagoon hidden from the sea, coral gardens and freshwater falls surrounded by jungle. In this earthly paradise, it is rumoured, a select community lives in blissful innocence. For Richard, haunted by the glamour of Vietnam war movies, a trek into unknown Thai territory is irresistible. He was looking for adventure. Now he's found it.'
The Beach is a cult 1996 novel written by Alex Garland - a sort of Lonely Planet meets Lord of the Flies - and my paperback copy is almost 439 pages long. The book is about a young British backpacker called Richard who, while on his travels in Thailand, ends up in possession of a strange map which, legend has it, contains the location of the most perfect beach in the world, a secret paradise known only to a few people. Richard teams up with a young French couple, Étienne and Françoise, who are staying at his hostel, and they all go in search of this legendary beach where a multinational community of young people live a carefree back to basics existence. But is paradise all it's cracked up to be?
The Beach, a great debut novel for someone so young, spawned a depressingly average and forgettable Danny Boyle film which failed to transplant the book's sense of scope and atmosphere onto the screen and, in typical Hollywood style, made the young central British backpacker, yes, you guessed it, an American, and Sal, the community's spooky American leader, yes, you guessed again, British! But enough about the film. The book is vastly superior.
The novel draws you in immediately thanks to Garland's vivid descriptions of life in Bangkok. You really feel like you are there as Garland writes about banana pancakes, muffled car horns, rattling pipes in hostels and local transexuals in Gold Lame. 'We didn't talk as we walked down the Khao San Road towards the guest-house. There was no point. Dodging through the hundreds of travellers made it impossible to have a conversation. Passing the botleg-tape stalls, moving through the music zones. Creedence Clearwater told us to run through the jungle, as if we needed to be told. A techno beat pumped out of fuzzy speakers, then Jimi Hendrix." The local sense of colour and detail is nicely conveyed.
Richard is given the mysterious map very early into the book and his short quest to find the beach is remarkably gripping. An epic swim and nights on beaches with cold noodles under the stars are absorbingly described. You really get caught up in the story very quickly and Garland keeps things moving with a precise style that is clever without being pointlessly arty. There are a few digressions the book could do without - like Richard talking about how he sleeps on trains by pretending he is on a spaceship - but others are a delight such as Richard talking to Françoise about infinite universes and how she's probably a filmstar with drug problems in one of the countless billions of alternate Earths.
An encounter with two permanently stoned Americans, which will have ramifications in the story later on, and the discovery of a huge marijuana plantation are memorable incidents in the first half of the book. The scene setting though and vivid sense of location is the biggest strength of the novel - "Sunset was spectacular. Red sky gently added to deep blue, where a few bright stars already shone, and orange light threw elastic shadows down the beach as people strolled back to their huts...the sun was already below the western curve of the seaward cliffs and the orange light of evening was turning blue."
The journey to the beach is a lot of fun to read about and the book maintains its hypnotic quality when we reach this location. Garland does an excellent job in describing plateaus, jungle canopies, light bouncing off leaves, caves, lagoons, and sitting underwater with two rocks to weigh him down - "Around me were banks of coral, brightly coloured pagodas, melted and sprawling in the hot tropical waters. In the recesses of their fans, something recoiled in my presence. It was almost imperceptible - a slight ripple of light spreading across the colours."
Little details, like how the jungle can be both light and dark, patterns in leaves or jungle vines twisting around trees are all done very well by the author.
Life in the community is interesting to find out about as Richard attempts to fit in and work out who he likes and dislikes. Perhaps some of the characters, especially the foreign ones, are a bit underfleshed - like Étienne sometimes - but the book is a very compulsive page turner the first time you read it. You start to wonder if they all plan to stay here forever and what they think about home and family and The Beach is interesting when Richard begins to dwell on these things. There are many ruminations about travel too such as Richard explaining how he never writes a diary abroad because you just tend to end up remembering what was in your diary rather rely on your memory. Life in the community though is well drawn with fishing details, various characters, sharks, trips back to the mainland for supplies and journeys into the jungle.
In addition to many memorable incidents - like Richard sitting a garden and being visited by monkeys - the book also has some very tense passages, especially a great section where Richard gets disorientated and lost swimming in some dark caves. Garland can write a gripping scene very well when he wants to. The book is also quite amusing at times - a moment where Richard is stoned and can't seem to say the right thing and the Americans talking how there are no clouds where they come from. The narrator's popular culture digressions in The Beach on everything from computer games to 'Tintin' to 'The A-Team' are not without enjoyment either.
The Beach though, for my money, falls apart a little bit at the end - with a somewhat confusing and melodramatic climax - and struggles just a tad when it tries to turn into a thriller with Richard becoming increasingly eccentric and saying things like "Delta-two-niner" or something as the Vietnam war film references become more frequent. The Beach had worked perfectly fine as a hypnotic novel about identity and escape without having to go too mad.
It's perhaps a minor complaint because for pratically all of its duration The Beach is an interesting and compulsive novel. It's fast-paced and very enjoyable and gives the reader a great sense of escape and adventure.
Well worth reading if you haven't got around to it.
At first I only saw the film of the same title that was based on this book, based being the operative word, as key characters from the book are taken out for the film, which is a shame, but unlike other reviewers I enjoyed the film for what it was, some great shots and a great soundtrack, the token love story is also a guilty pleasure of mine.
Years after watching the film I had my first trip to Thailand (still hadn't read the book) and decided to read it on my return, I could not put the book down, the character 'Jed' is a great character and garland paint the picture of him so well.
After visiting Thailand myself (see my profile picture, taken of me in 'Maya Bay' on Phi Phi Ley Island, where the main part of the film was shot) I found I could relate to the familiar places in the book so well, Koh Phangan, Khao San Road in Bangkok, Koh Samui, Surat Thani, all these places are mentioned in the book which added to the realism and sucked me in even further!
I also relate to the book in other ways, The main character obviously grew up watching the vietnam war movies, Apocalypse Now, Platoon and others, like myself, he grew up playing the nintendo video games, like myself, and ended up backpacking in south-east-asia, like myself!
If you like backpacking, or trips to Thailand or asia, I recommend this book highly, it is easy to read, easy to relate to for a 25-ish year old.
I also reccomend the film along with the book, although the film has it's critics, it does have some good shots of locations to give you a rough idea of what Thailand is like, and Maya Bay is beautiful.
I recommend a trip to Maya Bay, although most of the time a lot of tourists are there, and people complain of this - the Thai goverment have made it a national park to preserve it, and is still a sight to behold.
Enjoy the book & get your backpack, flip-flops & head out for your own adventure!
Well I really loved this book, as everyone else who has reviewed it here, I read it in just a couple of days and felt compelled to write a review about it even though it is probably a bit passé in review land! The story revolves around a traveller in his twenties who on reaching Thailand gets swept along in an adventure to find the elusive beach after being ‘chosen’ by a suicidal hostel neighbour to be the recipient of a hand drawn map pinpointing the beach’s location before he slits his wrists. Along with a French couple he meets at the same hostel they set off immediately and somewhat recklessly all things considered, to find the beach. I think perhaps part of the reason I enjoyed this book so much was the fact that the travellers, did stuff and took chances that I just wouldn’t contemplate, and then they realise the consequences of their actions – sometimes good sometimes not. The story progresses quickly and this is not a big adventure story of their journey to find the beach (something I think I would have found tiresome) but the adventure stretching out over several months of their lives on the island. I won’t say anymore about what happens as to do so would be unfair to those who want to read it, but this book really gets going from page 1 and only gets better as the story progresses, and although it ends fairly abruptly, I think this is perfect as any other way would risk slowing the pace and including unnecessary detail which is something this author could never be accused of. The back cover hints at ‘Lord of the Flies’ comparisons, and I would have to agree, but this only really materialised towards the end of the story, at which point your heart is in your mouth as you realise the true effect the island has had on its inhabitants as the paradise turns sour. The story is told honestly and is written in a mixture of current tense and in the style of a st
ory teller looking back at his adventure which lets slip now and again what happens and who does and doesn’t survive, which although I have heard this criticized, I think is an excellent technique to firstly grip you into having to read further, and secondly, give you some hope that there is a future with some semblance of normality– which is actually quite a relief! This book is incredibly easy to read, and flows so well from one chapter to the next that it becomes hard to put down. I couldn’t recommend this book highly enough; you won’t be disappointed by it I am sure. Enjoy!
What can I say. The honored users before me have described the plot, researched the story, wrote their qualified opinions and covered all the issues. I will only say personal things. In 1999, I was in a Zagreb book shop and my friend, my kind 'inviting party', bought this book for me. However, as far as I recollect it, I chose it myself, because of its cover and because it was on a central shelf. The cover showed an andless beach line with tiny footprints on it, and the sealine a huge eye looked straight into the reader. I started reading this novel on my way home to Siberia, and was enchanted, captivated and charmed by this book forever. Instantly after I had finished I started re-reading it. It was the first English-language book that I truly owned. Still, it's one of my favorites, along with Anouchka Grose Forrester's 'Dear Daisy' and Mark Childress' 'Crazy in Alabama'. In my opinion, first novels are like first albums, they are either the best in artist's career or at least they show the great author's potential. This is exactly the case.
I think the mere fact that Alex Galand's debut novel had a film with an all-star cast and a top-band soundtrack based on it shows that it's a top book. Now if you thought the film was a little on the crap side, do not despair, as in many cases, the book is far better. I read the book before I watched the film and I am so glad I did, because I don't think that I would have bothered reading it had I done things the other way round. For a start, in the novel the main character is ENGLISH. Now I am in no-way anti-American, but, as you can imagine, it does change the story round - Richard, understandably has a far more 'English' personality. In the film, they had to fit in some horny lovin' somewhere - (Richard and Francoise get down to it in the sea), but the novel itself is a curiously sexless affair, which of course, heightens the tension in the book, with the 'will they won't they' theme running through it. Even after reading the book, it was kind of obvious that they wouldn't hire Leonardo diCaprio to not get his kit off at some point in the film! At a time when globalisation and Western culture is inflicting every part of the world, it was so refreshing to read a novel about paradise. Or is it actually paradise? Richard, a traveller wandering around Thailand, is given a hand-drawn map by a madman calling himself Daffy Duck, who subsequently commits suicide. The mysterious hold that Mister Duck has on Richard compels him to find 'The Beach'. He and two French travellers then set out on a journey to find this paradise. What I noticed about this novel is that you feel compelled, like Richard to find out what the hell Mister Duck was on about - you find yourself wanting to explore this paradise like Richard. It's certainly a mad book, and perhaps the ending was a bit far fetched, but it was definitely worth it to read it. It took me about 3 days to read from cover to cover. DiCaprio spoilt
I mistook this book when I read it for 'On The Beach' when I read it. That book had been recommended to me and when walking through WHSmith's one day I saw this book and though oh that was recommended to me, so I bought it. Well this is THE BEACH not ON THE BEACH and they are both very different stories. I love reading and I am studying English Literature at the moment as part of my A-levels. At the moment I’m reading Emily Bronte’s - Wuthering Heights and I am really enjoying that. I hadn't heard of the author Alex Garland before because he has only written two books, this being his first and the Tesseract being his second. Alex as authors go is quiet young. He was born in 1970 and published this in 1996 making him ONLY 26 years old. The book (which I'll now get on to) has 439 pages which is cut up to 12 chapters. It has a few pretty pictures for those of you who still like picture books but these are far and few. It is priced (when I bought it 2 years ago at £6.99), which for what you can get for your money today is not that bad!!! The story is told in the first narrative by a character called Richard (played by Leonardo di Caprio in the awful film). We find out at first very little of his character but that he was born in '74 making him (when the book was written) 22, the age of the world traveller and backpacker... The simple plot without telling you all of it so you don't want to read it is that the beach is a secret Island. Trapped away on a national reserve the idea of the beach is just to many people a rumour. Richard find out about the island and with a group of French people called Etienne and Françoise. They get a map of a person they meet by luck and travel to Ko Samui, which is some city in Thailand. When they get there they decided to swim to the island. But when they make it to the island they find out that it is not all they expected. Th
ere are drug farmers there and a community of people who live on the other side of the island, who Richard and his followers are interested in. I would go on but I'm sure you don't want to know the end!!! The beach is basically for you religious people like the Garden of Eden - perfect. No hassle and bustle of modern day society and just time to relax. I read the book when I was suffering from depression. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it as a good pick me up. I have given my copy to: my mum, my friend Vanessa, my ex-boyfriends mum and my mum gave it to a few of her friends. A few of my other friends had borrowed it from the library as well. It is truly a widely read and recommended book. The book has some interesting and surprising ideas in it. Richard falls in love with his companion Françoise and gets rejected by him. The rice run is of particular interest and shark attacks. It is basically an action packed book. (God I sound like the back cover of a book don’t I). I really enjoyed Garlands writing style and I would really like to read his other book but have never got round to doing it. Its on my really long - HAVE TO read list!!! i can normally judge a book by how rates it. If it has to print the Sun's or the Mirror's quote on it then it cant be a very challenging read. I prefer going for more tabloid papers. The beach however was rated by Successful author Nick Horny, (High Fidelity - also made into a film, and pitch fever), The Guardian, Telegraph and Q music magazine. That’s what I call a recommendation. I hope I have widened you perspective on this book. If you saw the film (which i saw on sky the other day) I have to say that the book is far superior. The thing a book has that a motion picture doesn't is emotion and thought. You cant use all your senses in a film while in a book you can really sense the place as if
you were there. A lot of the story has been changed as well which annoys me. But then it does say BASED ON. Hope you have a good read... I’m off for chocolate cake. Sara
The Beach by Alex Garland tells the story of a young traveller's quest to find paradise on earth. The story begins with Richard (the traveller's) arrival in Thailand, where he encounters a strange man who gives him a map and is later discovered dead in his hotel room - apparently suicide. Along with 2 new French friends, also from the hotel, the female of whom is very attractive, Richard decides to attempt to reach the mysterious and allegedly paradisal beach on the map. They make other friends along the way as they travel, but try to keep their mission secret. What ultimately ensues is a violent 'Lord of the Flies' type tale, demonstrating how easily human nature can descend into degredation. Garland's writing is excellent and this is a spectacular debut novel. He writes so well that the reader is totally engrossed in unfolding events and can clearly picture the idyllic beach. Ultimately this is a tale of adventure and love but with a disturbing take on the lengths people will go to, to preserve their private dreams.
I was lent this book by my English teacher at A-level, as I was bugging her for soemthing other than set texts to read. In the end I bought my own copy and have now read it about 5 times!! It was fairly new out at the time, so there wern't many people who could tell me about it. But I thought "what the heck, I'll give it a go." For those of you who have not read the book or seen the film ( a rather dissapointing substitute I think) I shall give you a short synopsis before telling you what I think of it. The book is set in Thailand in the modern day. It follows the Journey of Richard on his travels. On his first night he stays in a room next to a extremely eccentric scotsman, who goes by the pseudonym of "Daffy". In the morning Richard finds a map attached to his door, which shows the islands around Thailand and has BEach marked onit, a subject which the two men had been fdiscussing the previous night. A little curious Richard goes to the mans room only to find him dead. Along with a French couple in the adjacent room, Richard sets off to find this beach if he can. After encountering manyt difficulties, they eventually find this "paradise" and life seems to be perfect for them. However, Richard has given a copy of the map to two young lads who he met in a beach hut and when these lads are discovered to be trying to reach the island also, Richard discovers what lenghts people will go to in order to keep their idyllic Island a secret. The book, is a lot better than my description makes out as I do not wish to give too much of the plot away. Alex Garland shows an imaginative and entertaining mind in this book (although other novels since have been less entertaining). He writes well,a dn there is a lot of subtle humour as well as the more obvious jokes. His main protagonist, Richard, is an Englishman (portrayed in film as American, by Leo DiCaprio) who is quite reflective on life, and has a very over active imagination.
The bok is well written and is extremely inspiring for any budding travellers. It is detailed in it's descriptions of the setting and the thought of going to this place is exciting for anyone. The other characters are all entirely believable. Although sometimes a little stereotypical, it is only in a comical and light-hearted way that Garland teases the nationalities of his characters. This is definetely worth reading, even if you have seen the film, I would suggest you read this, as I find the ending slightly more satisfying in the book.
Upon first glance, it is every adventure-seeking, back-packers dream, which can be lived out from the comfort of their own armchairs. On reading it at a deeper level, 'The Beach' is a novel which explores the possibility of absolute paradise and human behavior within a community. The story of a traveller stumbling across a solitary island with a hidden community which runs on an endless supply of canabis is not an original idea. Infact an idea well known to travellers. However, Garland manages to enable the reader to almost be there. Extreme close imagery, and the literary style being like Richard's thought patterns, are the main features which contribute to the success of the novel. In my opinion, 'The Beach' is an excellent read for people interested in anything from travel to the human mind. It does not make for light reading if you have ever read or studied 'Lord of the Flies', as the underlying issues are similar and are extremely evident. My one comment against the novel is that some parts of it could have been written with more impact, as one or two of the sub-plots seem to trail off and end up not being very relevent. However, do not let that put you off as the book does have mind-altering issues and is told in a very unique and intreiging way.