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The Tesseract

3.2 of 5 stars 3.20  ·  rating details  ·  3,790 ratings  ·  171 reviews
Set in the Philippines, this Chinese puzzle of a novel, written by the author of "The Beach", spans three generations, following the stories of three sets of characters whose fates are intertwined.
Paperback, 273 pages
Published January 25th 1999 by Riverhead Hardcover (first published 1998)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Chris Hearn
I went to a drop in medical centre today and got told there was a couple hour wait, but I could go for a wander and come back. I dropped into a nearby Salvation Army and picked up this book and another which will probably be as terrible. JG Ballard says on the rear "The most interesting novel of the year". Fuck. 1998 must have been a really shit year for novels. I almost gave it two stars, seeing as it served it's purpose fairly well, as waiting room reading material. You flip about a page per 3 ...more
Maciek
The Tesseract suffers from the case of the infamous sophomore jinx simply because it is in no way like Garland's fabulous debut novel The Beach.
The voice is completely different. The Beach was linear, almost cinematic in scope, a rather conventional novel; The Tesseract is experimental, and the writing dry, sparse and moody. The novel is set in Manila, and through three separate, non-linear narratives it shows the story of three groups of people who would normally never met, but whom fate has co
...more
ReaderSP
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. When starting The Tesseract, you can clearly feel the similarities between this book and his previous but The Tesseract quickly becomes its own story. The book follows several different characters and jumps around within the timeline. It starts with Sean in a `roach infested hotel' as he awaits the arrival of local gangster Don Pepe. Next we have a Fili ...more
Dan
I read "The Beach" quite a few years ago and liked it very much. I mostly forgot about Alex Garland for a while until I stumbled across this one and thought I'd give it a try.

It's a very well written book, done up in three main arcs: a young British traveller, a wife and mother in suburban Manilla and a young boy living on the streets. It's peppered with other characters, but these are your three main ones. Each has their story told, and each of their stories all intersect in a well thought out
...more
Barbara
“Tesseract” – a four-dimensional hypercube with all equal sides and right angles; the author includes in the definition the “unraveling” of same. This book is three separate tales, taking place over the span of both a few hours and several years. The first involves an emissary for a smuggler who is behind on his protection payments, awaiting the arrival of an unhappy enforcer in a Manila hotel room. The second deals with a young doctor, a happily married mother of two who, nonetheless, mourns a ...more
Eliza Victoria
The novel opens like a thriller. A British seaman waits in a seedy Manila hotel for a rich Filipino mafioso. He notices several things almost all at once: the dead phone, the peephole covered from the outside, rusty blood spatters on the bedsheet, a gunshot hole in the ceiling, a room with no exit. The Filipino don is in a car with his crew, weaving through the dark streets of the city, and the seaman takes out his gun, believing that they are coming to kill him.

Gunshots and a chase – the staple
...more
Linna
Sep 16, 2012 Linna added it
The Tesseract: a recap

Sean is in a hotel room that is dirty and also hot

Sean is expecting a phone call from a dude

Sean is kind of cRAZy and there is blood on the sheets

blood because someone got murdered and TORTURED TO DEATH PROBABLY or it was a period or something

NOPE DEFINITELY TORTURE

>we listen to Sean be crazy for 20 pages<

-sean lies down puts a photo of a random girl on his chest and feels calmer (no he does not actually know who this girl is but it makes him feel better but not altog
...more
Aimee Capinpuyan
Set in the Philippines, The Tesseract pretends to be some action thriller novel that takes the reader through the lives of various people. It was a largely forgetful book. The protagonist, I think his name was Simon (see? I can't even remember) was bland. Every other character was bland too. Thankfully the Philippines was given some life in this book. Garland nicely described the scenery here, and he doesn't sugar coat it as to make it sound ridiculous.

The plot was really dumb. The climax wasn't
...more
Fabian
The Tesseract by Alex Garland is a novel that lets the reader wonder at his own insignificance; it is a theme that was already implanted there, in the modern reader’s sophisticated brain, by Voltaire, and made new again in this generation’s collective and personal psyche, which is enormous in scope. It’s no travesty to say that the society of 2011 is somewhat the intended dream of our future from way before the millennium--that is, we are living the 2011 version according to 1999, that oracular ...more
Joy
Alex Garland's The Tesseract is a story of layers. Which I'm sure if you knew the definition of the word "tesseract" [also called an 8-cell or regular octachoron or cubic prism, is the four-dimensional analog of the cube; the tesseract is to the cube as the cube is to the square], you may have already assumed as much. I did not know the definition of this word. Nor did I fully grasp this story until the last 15 pages.

There are many things happening at once…a European man killing for his life, a
...more
Allie
Despite the fact that almost nothing good happens to any of the characters in the book, I really enjoyed reading "The Tesseract." The intertwined narratives of the mafia, family, street kids, and psychologist aren't exactly subtle, but each one had something powerful. Sometimes all the elements lost a little of that power as Alex Garland pushed them together into one conclusion. However, overall I definitely liked this book and, as it was the first of Garland's that I've read, I'll have to seek ...more
Emily
Alex Garland may be one of the best current authors I have read. I read The Beach twice, and the second time was just as good as the first. The Tesseract takes place in the Philippines. Garland tells three separate stories about life there, and brings them together in the end. Its a little complicated if you don't pay attention closely, but all the more reason to go back and read it again later! If you liked The Beach, this is much different and maybe doesn't have quite the climatic ending, but ...more
Peter
How do you follow up on a hugely successful first novel?

This is the question that must of faced Alex Garland after the success of his book The Beach and on the whole I feel that this book is a fairly successful attempt and in large parts that's down to the differences rather than the similarities.It would have been so easy for Garland to just write another travelogue book based on young backpackers but this is very different in feel despite starting in a run down hotel room as did The Beach.

This
...more
N.J. Ramsden
Another example of a book smothered with praise from high-profile names, yet totally failing to deliver anything but a kind of intellectual indigestion. And not from richness.

What's wrong with it? We can start with Garland's enormously pretentious* explanation of his title. I won't waste time copying it out. Let's just say it's bullshit. And totally unnecessary. If you have a good narrative and a good title, neither requires justification. Sadly The Tesseract lacks at least the former.

The story
...more
Benja
Story about a bunch of people one night in Manila, most of whom cross paths by the end of the book. The writer is Alex Garland, who wrote "The Beach" and authored a bunch of screenplays for Danny Boyle, so you can one of the characters to be a Skinny Pretty White Boy who goes "in too deep". Anyway. Garland obviously knows his cinematographical timing. He summons visuals, dialogue and situations with ease, then drops them off just as easily. I'm still not sure how are the characters' stories rela ...more
Jennifer Delpit
why do they keep making such terrible movies out of his terrific books?
Maria
Tarantino meets science geek. Very cool book!
Ron Charles
As every horror-movie survivor knows, it's not the attack that's so frightening. It's the moment before the attack.

In Alex Garland's new novel, "The Tesseract," the monsters are entirely human, but the tension is out of this world.

Garland is a wizard of time manipulation. His entire novel transpires while some Filipino thugs burst into a hotel room, chase a man down the street, and shoot him. It's the closest you'll ever come to riding a bullet.

But there's nothing linear about this shocking, com
...more
Nancy Oakes
Set in the Philippines, the story focuses on three very different groups of people from different walks of life, and who probably should never in real life have any reason to meet each other, but do here through a bizarre set of circumstances. Throughout the narrative, I got the feeling that each of these people have no way to understand why these things are happening to them; they just are -- and it's just a matter of timing and circumstance, with no rhyme nor reason -- and that even at the end ...more
Technoferal
Feb 23, 2008 Technoferal rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Technoferal by: The bargain bin@the bookstore
Interesting. Garland captures the essence of places&situations in a way the reader can palatably feel;he does the fright deal straight up directed towards my generation, yet it does not come across as PULP('tho there is something to be said for that genre, but Garland is pure human psychology,&dare I write it?, intellectual). This is not to say it's age-limited, but w/ each book, I can identify w/ the characters' time&place in life.(Not necessarily surprising, as Garland & I are ...more
Beatrix
I guess I should quit reading the blurbs and especially the review quotes written on the covers because they lead me astray. Even though The Tesseract is a good novel, it definitely didn’t take my breath away and I didn’t exactly consider the finale shattering, as it was promised on the cover – therefore, because I was naive enough to build my expectations on what I read on the cover, the novel proved to be a bit of a disappointment.

The novel is set in Manila and it is made up of three interconn
...more
Claire
This book was trying so hard to be clever, new, experimental and high-brow. It was just crap. None of it made sense, it was flashback within flashback, interrupted by a flashback and I couldn't get my head round any of it.

The first part with Sean was great. Yeah he's a little nuts but it was linear, it was exciting and I was really drawn in! The second bit with the gangsters in the car, that was good too, especially having seen Sean's warped vision of them previously. When the two parties meet,
...more
Oceana2602
Years ago (a long time before the movie which I never saw), I got Garland's "The Beach" from the local library and was completely blown away by it. That book had a tremendous meaning to me, for reasons that I would be happy to explain if I were reviewing "The Beach" (which I don't even own, shame on me, I shall remedy that immediately).

Because of how much I loved "The Beach", I just had to buy this book when I came across it in the bookstore. And it didn't disappoint me, though it doesn't have t
...more
Jennifer Taw
In one quick read, vividly drawn places wash over you (a seedy hotel, a remote village, a McDonald's in Manila), you weave in and out of actions from several different characters' points of view (without ever resenting the device because it's done so artfully), and you come to care about all the characters because, in the most precise and parsimonious way, they've been shown in all their humanity, with their strengths and foibles and perceptions and assumptions. And underlying it all are much bi ...more
James
I liked it, some of the stories were interesting, however I felt it ended slightly too obviously, and without any real closure. It had the feel of those typical dark British movies that get critical acclaim without anyone noticing that it had been released. I, however, generally like those movies and although it wasn't a book to shout from the roof top about I enjoyed it sufficiently to not feel that time had been wasted.
Jim
The Tesseract, by Alex Garland, is a strange book, because it takes 4 sets of characters (an Englishman in Manila, the local "heavy" that he's due to meet, 2 street kids, and a family) and watches what happens in the run up to (and after) the time when these 4 groups collide.

It's a good, but rather, depressing book. It's set in a third world country which has very little evidence of "forward momentum" and you know from how the book's written that no one's going to be happy at the end (unless som
...more
David
The setup of this novel seems a bit of a stretch – wavering over onto the side of the improbable. However, the actual rendering takes us on a journey filled with very believable characters caught up in a gritty tale set in the Philippines. Not exactly sure what Garland is trying to say with this one, but it is an exciting thrill ride structured a bit like _Run Lola Run_.
Fatum Rose
i read the entire book in a day so it was an easy read at least, its just that i don't feel that the book was entirely cohesive. it was in 3 different parts which read like 3 entirely different short stories and then he just seems to stick them together.
Rowland Bismark
Judging from the pages of accolades preceding this book I was expecting a work as surprising and entertaining as Garland's first book, The Beach. I was mildly disappointed.

Garland does paint a rich picture of modern day Manilla, the Philippines, in a story rich with characters but with a plot less meant to entertain than to attempt to make some sort of sense of a seemingly senseless world by tying discordant story lines together to make destiny seem inevitable if not choreographed. Is Garland h
...more
Laura
I read The Beach a few years ago, and my main complaint about it was that it started out strong, but the plot fell apart toward the end, and throughout the book, the dialogue was terribly written. The writing is a bit better in The Tesseract, but the book seems to fall apart in much the same way. The characters are also fairly boring, and I didn't feel much sympathy for any of them.

It's similar to movies like Amores Perros or Crash (not the David Cronenberg film, the other one), or the book Let
...more
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Alex Garland (born 1970) is a British novelist and screenwriter.

Garland is the son of political cartoonist Nick (Nicholas) Garland. He attended the independent University College School, in Hampstead, London, and the University of Manchester, where he studied art history.

His first novel, The Beach, was published in 1996 and drew on his experiences as a backpacker. The novel quickly became a cult c
...more
More about Alex Garland...
The Beach The Coma 28 Days Later (Faber and Faber Screenplays) Sunshine Never Let Me Go: The Screenplay

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