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The Beach

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  54,936 Ratings  ·  1,961 Reviews
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 a subject of legend among young travelers in Asia: a la ...more
Hardcover, 371 pages
Published February 10th 1997 by Riverhead Hardcover (first published 1996)
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Miranda W. This book is NOT light-hearted, in fact it gets pretty darn dark. It does have a small, interesting part about Bangkok, but the majority of the book…moreThis book is NOT light-hearted, in fact it gets pretty darn dark. It does have a small, interesting part about Bangkok, but the majority of the book unfolds on The Beach. Great book, but if you're looking for light-hearted, this probably isn't it.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Ryan Chapman
I will defend this book's subtle intelligence to the ends of the Earth. Garland's performative act--seducing us with the myth of perfect travel, deftly balancing the naive hypocrisies of Westerners rooting out the exotic in the East--creates a brutal ending that recasts what had led up to it. While Garland could have easily stopped with a cautionary tale, he went further by lacing his character's thoughts not with literary allusions, but filmic ones. Which 20-something British kid wouldn't think ...more
Having never heard of Alex Garland I picked up his debut novel, "The Beach" because the cover and premise were intriguing. I'm happy to say that Mr. Garland delivered exactly what he promised and I breezed through this little yellow book in two days. If Jack Kerouac wore shorts and hung out with William Golding, the two might have produced something like this.

The Beach is compulsively readable because of several factors. First, the chapters are structured and trimmed into an expert lenght, ofte
May 10, 2007 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I basically devoured this book. Started on Friday, finished by Monday. Part of it has to do with the way the book is written (short, three to four page vignettes that make it easy to say, "Oh I'll just read one more") but a larger part has to do with the momentum of the story. it doesn't really ever let up. i was never bored reading this book in fact I almost compulsively needed to know what would happen next. The whole thing kind of plays out like a really well-done summer popcorn movie.

Two de
Hannah Eiseman-Renyard
Jul 30, 2009 Hannah Eiseman-Renyard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: travellers, hippies
Gorgeous, Cynical, Well-Observed

Believe it or not, despite the hints throughout about dark and terrible things to come, this novel doesn't really turn dark until around the last fifth.

Until then it's beautiful scenery, well-observed love triangles and petty dislikes, and a new traveller trying to get to, and then assimilate into, the hidden island paradise known as the beach. However, our boy, English narrator Richard, was originally given a map to the beach by an angry/disturbed guy he met in
Joe Valdez
Dec 11, 2014 Joe Valdez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
The Beach was the 1996 debut novel by Alex Garland, a British writer who's gone on to pen the screenplays for an impressive bunch of UK-produced science fiction films. Garland authored 28 Days Later (2003) and Sunshine (2007), adapted Kazuo Ishiguro's novel Never Let Me Go (2010), as well as the comic book Dredd (2012), the version that was actually good. His name first materialized on screen in 2000 with The Beach and despite the dismal reception of that film -- the script for which Garland did ...more
Aug 18, 2012 Trudi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Trudi by: Maciek

GR friend Maciek recommended this book to me, and I highly recommend that you check out his most awesome review that does a brilliant job of capturing this book's strengths. As for me, I knew very little about it save from what I could vaguely remember from the movie that's over ten years old now.

It's hard for me to classify this novel as anything other than "an experience". Parts of it are fun and breezy, others dark and depressing. Still others surreal and uncomfortable. It has adventure. It
Dec 16, 2015 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, ebook_nook, 2011
I've never seen this movie, but I have seen the commercials for it. I have always thought this book was a thriller and picked it up based on that assumption. But... It wasn't. Or, it mostly wasn't. The last 25 pages (minus the epilogue) were thriller-esque, but that's not what this story is about.

What was it about? I'm not really sure. It feels like one of those books that are kind of infinitely interpretable. Every person who reads it may see something different in it. For my part, I didn't re
Jul 30, 2007 Chrissy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Excellent writing -- different, interesting, and colloquial without being cliche. His short descriptions of the characters are beyond adequate, as he lets you immediately understand the person. Richard, the main character, is both elusive and relate-able -- he's an enjoyable character for me because I could see myself in him. He's selfish and flawed, but tries to remain a team player and at the end of the day (or the trip?), he tries to save himself and his friends.

Everything about this book is
I first read this book about 10 years ago and I've read it at least 10 times since then. As a simple adventure story, it doesn't lose its punch, even upon rereading. Richard, a young English traveller, is given a map in Bangkok by a man named Daffy Duck, who promptly commits suicide. The map leads Richard to a secret beach, where a commune of travellers live in apparent paradise. Unfortunately, this tiny microcosm of existence, while idyllic, is also prone to disasters – from the banal, like a b ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Jun 25, 2010 Jeanette "Astute Crabbist" rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Stoners with utopian fantasies
Given time, Shangri-La never is.
You must grow up and live in the real world, complicated and unpleasant as it may be. Seems to me this is something every generation has to figure out for itself, with assistance or hindrance from various psychoactive substances.

Richard, age 21, goes to Thailand and finds his way to a hidden settlement on a secluded island that is supposed to be off-limits to tourists. The people there are enjoying an Edenic existence, getting nearly everything they need from the
Nov 10, 2009 j rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: seen-on-film
I really wish the copy I read didn't have shirtless Leonardo DiCaprio on it.
Scribble Orca
Jan 04, 2013 Scribble Orca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Scribble by: Maciek

I've put off writing anything about this hoping that I'd be able to drag my weary disinterest through to the end of the novel...unfortunately that never occurred. Maybe it's because of having done the itinerant traveller thing, or maybe it was because the book felt too contrived, or maybe....I expected something else or something more. Whatever. This just didn't do it for me.

If you haven't backpacked through Asia, I guess this book could be an interesting read...and if you had, it might be chock
Jan 31, 2011 Tressa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First of all I would like to thank my friend Maciek for suggesting this great book! I couldn't tear myself away until I finished it.

The only thing I knew about this story is that it was made into a movie with Leo DiCaprio and it got lukewarm reviews. I stayed away from it for that reason. If the movie is 1/10 as good as this novel, then I missed a treat.

Three world travelers have a map to a beach that is described as Eden. Feeling adventurous, they make the difficult journey there, and are soon
Apr 02, 2007 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: backpackers
This book is of course way better than the movie.
The movie was watered down, warped, and completely missed the point Garland tried to make in his astonishingly succesful first novel.
For starters, Richard, the main character, is brown, English, and doesnt have sex with anybody. He's not Leo at all.
The first half of the book is incredible and really gets deep into the backpacking culture in Thailand, and is the best example of backpacker literature for our generation that I've yet seen.
Still, a
Aug 28, 2012 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kathryn by: Trudi
My immediate thoughts on finishing The Beach are this: It was pretty good. Four stars. Not the best ever I've read. Quite different than the movie adaptation.

What I liked about The Beach were several things: I really enjoyed the way Garland wrote this story. For me, it was a realistic aspect of the way someone might think, speak, feel, and act. I enjoyed the realistic quality of the dialogue. To me, it didn't really seem forced, or trying too hard. For a first novel, I'm kind of left impressed.
Karly *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*
Happy St. Patrick's day all :).

It seems rather fitting that I would finish The Beach by Alex Garland today, as this book is a bit of a mind fuck, and the day of the Irish tends towards the same. The similarity, naturally, ends there.

The Beach is Golding's Lord of the Flies for a twenty-or-thirty-something audience. And whilst I know I may get flayed for this, I have to say, I liked it quite a bit better.

I know that Golding did it first so when I feel the pull between my favourite character in
Nov 24, 2016 Inês rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, adventure
The Beach tells the story of a young British man, called Richard, who travels to Thailand with the objective to escape life. There, he is given a map by a troubled stranger, who soon thereafter kills himself. The map points to a paradisaical beach, hidden from the rest of the world. Consequently, Richard and a friendly French couple depart on a trip in search of the beach. Once they reach it, the plot unfolds to make things more interesting. Read the book to understand what I mean.

In my opinion,
May 09, 2007 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is maybe my favorite book ever. I have read it 5 times (just completed the fifth read) since I bought it in 2000. I never get tired of this story. The writing is extremely witty and transports you to a world that seems beautiful on the outside, but quickly turns on its protaganist to become deeply sinister and threatening. The main character of Richard is relatable to everyone: he is searching for something, he is not sure what, but thinks he has found it in the beach. He never escapes ...more
Aug 26, 2016 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dick-lit
A fortunate find at the anniversary Big Book Sale with S and K on my first day of vacation. I'd been toying with reading this after something triggered my memory of the awful movie (perhaps after hearing Porcelain or another decade-old Top 40 soundtrack song at some store in the Bay Area, as is prone to happen around here), and after toying with the idea of going backpacking before my window closes, i.e. before I truly become too old and curmudgeonly. Thank goodness I read this rambling book and ...more
whoa. words fail me right now, yet clearly they never did author Alex Garland.

The voice of my generation, in a way. I really enjoy watching the world through this narrator's eyes, so much that I'm willing to follow him down a sinkhole of madness. What a beautiful demise to paradise.

Don't worry, not a spoiler alert. The narrator is fine in the end. In the movie version. How is the book different?
I dare you to read it and tell me for yourself.

The adaptation was all I knew of this story, and tha
May 21, 2015 Ryan rated it it was amazing
Deciding to re-read this book over fifteen years since reading it last had me a bit wary. I worried that it would feel dated; something a younger me thought was powerful, but an adult me no longer connects with.

I was wrong.

This book is every bit as energetic and sun-soaked as it was the first time around, and left me wondering what the characters would have made of the world to come. They seek to find someplace new because tourists and crowds swallow up every other interesting place on the trail
Bryce Wilson
Mar 15, 2008 Bryce Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Old Shit I've Been Revisiting Part 1:

The Beach was the catalyst for this experiment I've started, I couldn't believe that it'd been five years since I've read the thing. It was also the book I was most afraid wouldn't hold up. It's reputation has suffered since the awful Danny Boyle movie, not helped by the fact that Alex Garland answered the question "Would he be the great novelist of Generation X?" with a resounding "No!".

The Beach was one of those perfect time perfect place books. I read it
From BBC Radio 4 - Book at Bedtime:
Our first Book of Bedtime of 2016 celebrates twenty years since the publication of Alex Garland's cult novel, The Beach. Joe Dempsie reads this thrilling tale of paradise sought and lost.

Jaded young backpacker Richard is in Thailand looking for a place unspoilt by tourism. An encounter with a dead man leaves him with a map for 'the beach', a select traveller community cut off from the degradations of vacationing westerners. He joins the commune, but his breadcr
Nur Seza
Nov 27, 2015 Nur Seza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Çok sevdiğim filminin kitap uyarlaması olduğunu öğrenince gittiğim bütün kitap evlerine sorup, internetten araştırıp bir türlü bulamayınca da umudu kesmiştim yıllar önce. Bu yıl bir arkadaşımın doğumgünümde anlamlı bir hediye verebilmek için yayıneviyle dahi irtibat kurduğunu ve hatta yayınevinin kitaptan bir haber olduğunu öğrenip yabancı dilde ki ekitap haline razı olmuşken Kadıköy'de bir sahaf şans eseri sadece bir tane 99 basımı basımı bulup büyük bir sürpriz yaptı.

Kitabı keyifle uzata uzat
Jason Baldwin-Stephens
The copy of The Beach that I read has a quote from a review from The Oregonion on the first page. The reviewer compared this novel to Lord of The Flies, Animal Farm and On The Road, and mentioned that it was a postmodern update on all three of them. That really is the best way to describe this novel.

Other ways to describe it are: outstanding, profane and disturbing.

My only regret in reading this novel is that I never got around to it until now instead of when it was first published in 1997, as i
Sep 17, 2007 Cau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: methamphetamine
captivating and riveting to say the very least :). three pages into the book and i was hooked ( hey, it rhymes!! im a poet and i dont know it LOL ).
the only time i put the book down was when i had to do number one. and by then i realized that i was well on my way to pulling an all-nighter.
okay, so sue me for stating the obvious, but for me the book is about adventure. and hopes. and dreams.
about to what extent one is willing to pursue them. and once those things become reality, what is one prepa
Feb 20, 2012 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those novels that I had been waiting to read for years. Circumstances just always prevented it, even after I'd seen the movie three or four times. I could never find a copy in China where I was living, I'd forget about it each year I came home and wouldn't order it from Amazon. But finally, I picked this up for my Kindle (bootleg, as it doesn't seem to have an official Kindle release) and dove right in. I started it at the perfect time, too: on a bus ride through central Malaysia, ...more
For a debut novel, I am thoroughly impressed. The short amount of time it took me to finish this book shows that I was hooked and gripped from the first sentence.

The Beach begins with our narrator, Richard, a traveller in Thailand who overhears the rants of a man living next door about a mysterious beach, supposedly pure and untouched by tourists. The next day, the man strangely commits suicide but not before leaving a map to the beach on Richard's door. Richard then befriends a couple from Fran
Aug 06, 2015 Rade rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Hmm, this is one of those books that I don't know how to rate. On one hand it was a fantastic first novel and I don't want to diminish that. On the other hand, it was not fun for me to read it. For most of the book it revolves around bunch of people talking, eating, fishing, swimming, helping each other, and accusing each other when something goes wrong. Besides the thing that happened at the end, most of the book consists of the variations of the things I've listed above.

I also predicted corre
Dec 08, 2016 Leticia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Leticia by: Inês
The Beach was very different from the typical YA books I read. I can't lie and say I wasn't expecting great things from it because I was. My friend recommended it but it didn't appeal to me for a while, but I always knew it had to be good because she would never recommend a bad book. I loved it! Everything about it! I don't have a single complaint whatsoever. Definitely worth it. I recommend it to anyone who wants to read something good and different.
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Catching up on Cl...: The Beach -- Buddy Read 5 32 Aug 22, 2016 09:00AM  
Can't wait to read this! 9 98 Feb 13, 2014 08:38PM  
Couple on the island 3 91 Nov 29, 2012 11:34PM  
Stephen King Fans: Group Read July '11 - The Beach 91 184 Jul 26, 2011 04:14PM  
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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 about Alex Garland...

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“When you develop an infatuation for someone you always find a reason to believe that this is exactly the person for you. It doesn’t need to be a good reason. Taking photographs of the night sky, for example. Now, in the long run, that’s just the kind of dumb, irritating habit that would cause you to split up. But in the haze of infatuation, it’s just what you’ve been searching for all these years.” 157 likes
“If I'd learnt one thing from travelling, it was that the way to get things done was to go ahead and do them. Don't talk about going to Borneo. Book a ticket, get a visa, pack a bag, and it just happens.” 115 likes
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