Tressa 's Reviews > The Beach

The Beach by Alex Garland
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Jan 19, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2011, dark-fiction, adventure
Read in February, 2011

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 enmeshed in the glorious world of beach living. But two back-to-back accidents throw a wrench into their idyllic lifestyle, and it goes south quickly. Think Lord of the Flies with adults who should know better. It was tense and sad and funny and I loved every minute of it.

Thanks again, Maciek!
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Maciek I'm really glad you liked it. I enjoyed this just as much, though I've never seen the film. I liked the dream sequences (which reminded me a lot of Dennis Lehane) and the author's approach to his writing - not literary allusions, but cultural references. Come on, which 20-something kid wouldn't think of Apocalypse Now while tearing through a jungle in Thailand? This book is just pure adventure and I'm happy you enjoyed it so much.


Tressa I was surprised at the humor in this book; wasn't really expecting too much. Richard started going down a slippery slope but he redeemed himself in the end.

Just one question: How come Sal and the others didn't mind Richard, Etienne, and Francoise coming to live on the beach, but were so opposed to Sammy, Zephyr and the others in their group? I mean, over the years obviously others have been welcomed; others have been invited. I was a little fuzzy on this.

Richard's grooving on Vietnam and Apocalypse Now is pretty funny. I like how he made games out of it and I think the chapters are even titled in military jargon or war movie references.

I'm not much of a traveler. Do you travel a lot? I admire people who do take of and can be gone from their homes for months at a time, but that's not me. This was an interesting travel memoir: Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven.

Thanks again.


Maciek I liked how the book mixed unlikely influences - Heart of Darkness, Lord of The Flies with Super Mario Bros.

I think that they were opposed to Sammy and Zephyr because they feared that they could give their location away to othersand bring more people to the beach, and destroy the community. Richard wasn't in the position to invite new guests, and the others looked on the new arrivals with fear that they could upset the already shaky balance.

I'm the stay at home type of guy. I like the idea of traveling, and seeing distant lands, but the travel itself and its discomforts turn me off. I'd love to travel, but only with trusted companions and secured lodgings along the road.

Hey, no problem.If you liked The Beach you might want to try On the Road which was an obvious inspiration. It's a cult book, but the reviews here have been mixed. I really enjoyed it, though.


Tressa But couldn't Richard give/have given their location away to others? It's like Richard and his companions were trusted right off the bat, but the others hated and mistrusted Sammy and his gang before they even knew them. When you think about it, at one time they were ALL new arrivals. I do understand that at that time things around camp were shaky.

I would travel to exotic lands, but only with people I knew and trusted and I would only stay in safe places and go sightseeing with a group. It's OK to be adventurous, but there's a lot of danger in all the customs and lands that you're not familiar with.

I'll check out On the Road. I'm not really into the hipster scene, and that's what that book reminds me of. Didn't Kerouac write it?


Maciek I think that they trusted Richard and his compatriots because they were given the map by Daffy, who was one of the founders. Richard was a newcomer, and in my interpretation he simply didn't hold the position to freely distribute the location of the island like Daffy.
Each new arrival was a potential risk to the community. I guess with the absence of the law and the unstable community order things could get shaky and no new arrivals were welcome.

Exactly. For example, south-east Asia. It must be beautiful there. But the food...we would have a hard time getting used to it.

I hate hipsters, but I really liked On The Road. It's about two guys roaming the country, and doing pretty much everything. Give it a go, and if it doesn't grab you wish it well and take it back to the library.


Hudson As I child of the 70/80's, I loved all the generational references in this book. The beach in the movie is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen (in Thailand I think)
Off to check out what Alex Garland's been up to since then!


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