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The Tesseract

3.22  ·  Rating details ·  5,641 ratings  ·  260 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 August 11th 1998)
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Average rating 3.22  · 
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 ·  5,641 ratings  ·  260 reviews

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Apr 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The Tesseract by Alex Garland is a novel that lets the reader wonder at his own insignificance. It is a theme that's already been implanted there, in the modern reader’s sophisticated brain, by Voltaire, and made new again by this generation’s collective and personal psyche, which is quite enormous/ambitious 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 1 ...more
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 connected in a most violent
Aug 19, 2012 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


>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 h
N.J. Ramsden
Feb 01, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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 forme
Aimee Capinpuyan
Apr 03, 2013 rated it did not like it
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 c
Oct 17, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Aug 02, 2015 rated it liked it
A reread from fifteen years ago? Since that time, Garland has morphed into one of the strongest screenwriters in Hollywood. When he hits, he hits hard. He rarely misses.

This novel is fine. There’s a very turn of the century/Fight Club era Palahniuk by way of Guy Ritchie directed film style to the writing that comes about with the extremely fractured narrative and the frequent use of synecdoche. It makes the novel feel dated in an unflattering way. At its heart the novel is still entertaining th
Nate D
Sep 22, 2007 rated it it was ok
One of those multiple convergent plot threads, deal. What unseen factors lead to life changing events? Pretty good, not as good as the Beach, I thought at the time, though it's been ages now, so who knows.
Dave Ireland
Oct 04, 2016 rated it did not like it
Boring. I lost interest after page 20 and should have applied the 100 pages rule, i.e. if it hasn't grabbed me by then forget it. I wish I had.
Sep 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
It is hard to belive that the author of an excellent novel like THE BEACH is capable of writing this sorry mess.Very,very bad.
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
I have no idea what I just read, to be honest. If someone asked me to give a short summary of this book, I wouldn't be able to give even one sentence.
There are multiple stories within this novel: one takes place in just one night, starts with an American named Sean shooting one of the big mafia bosses in Manila and his bodyguard. Sean is then being chased by two other bodyguards, ends up holding a young mother of two, Rosa, hostage, and all that is being witnessed by two street kids, Vincente (
Jun 25, 2011 rated it liked it
“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
Dec 11, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Mirko Liang
Feb 18, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After The Beach Garland goes experimental tailoring a novel where different stories and paths unravel themselves and collide. I like Alex Garland, also in his works as a screenwriter/director, I like his writing, very smooth and enjoyable, but sadly I couldn't connect with this particular novel.
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting story. It starts off slowly. He gives you three separate tales but they all tie in together at the end. I almost abandoned the reading but didn't! I am glad . It was worth the time.
Jennifer Delpit
May 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
why do they keep making such terrible movies out of his terrific books?
Tom Barker
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my all time favorite books.
Apr 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Tarantino meets science geek. Very cool book!
Sep 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book.

What I liked: the momentum/pace (of the first section especially), the details of the characters, the loose ends/non-sequiturs in the plot, the fact that the book takes an action-movie-esque setup and deconstructs it as a sort of literary character study/metaphysical musing on meaninglessness.

What I didn't like: the pacing is uneven, the characters are often too pat and don't have realistic rough edges (and they felt very 'Western' in some of their speech
Steve Johnson
Oct 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Alex Garland is a great writer, for sure. I was engaged by this book almost the entire time. Even though the plot feels very small scale (only involving a number of people), Garland has no trouble creating tense moments. To me his writing style is very pleasant and there are definitely some images that were put into my mind by this book that I will not soon forget. I particularly enjoyed the physics-related explanations, they felt very intuitive which is always a good accomplishment for a writer ...more
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting and well-written set of interwoven events and stories centered on a single day in Manila. It starts with an English sailor waiting in a hyperdingy hotel to meet with a local mobster. As he waits he becomes more and more convinced he is about to be executed. This is intercut with the mobster in the car with his retinue treading on verbal eggshells. The two meet in an explosive climax, whereupon the book shifts to the story of a woman putting her kids to sleep. This leads to the s ...more
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing

I understand some of the negative reviews, but this is not a conventional novel. It masterfully and enigmatically darts through time, and from beginning to end the main arc takes no time at all, but the novel spans several generations in flashback. I have not often been so impressed by the mere structure of a novel. It is periodically confusing, but each confusion is given a payoff either literal or existential. An incredibly intelligent book, whose plot is ultimately about the lack of p
Rue Baldry
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a lot more interesting than I'd expected. I thought it was going to be grim, gory, with some Hemingway machismo and a bit of poverty tourism. It's actually far more intelligent than that, experimenting with story techniques, particularly chronology and points of view, but not in an obscure, detracting way. It's very readable and clear. The characters and settings are all well formed. The philosophical questions are asked very softly and subtly.
Beth Wilson
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed the idea of a tesseract and the collision of each of the characters in the story. A tesseract with its understandable geometry or at least an ordered way of looking at a shape (I suppose the 'easiest' way for us to compute 4d....) puts forward the idea life should have obvious cause and effect: a plan. To then bring in Alfredo's interest in dreams, the metaphysical and space really see-sawed the emotion of nitty gritty real life and the relative pointlessness of our little lives!
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
this is my first ever “thriller” and honestly it didnt feel like it was a thriller book?? where was the t h r i l l ? what category should this even be? who knows? idk im new to this and maybe im wrong. but damn i was 50 pages into it and i was already thinking of dnf-ing it. ngl didnt even get wtf goin on half the time while reading .
Feb 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
It took me 20 years to read it (if you consider that the book was edited in 1998). Alex Garland accomplishes an interesting multi-story book where all gets connected in the end. The book is overall interesting, but one is not sure "where all this is going" while you are reading it, so I was a bit disappointed since my expectations were different. Still, an entertaining read.
Lynn Wood
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a really great book to read, but strangely I felt the first two thirds were so much better than the last third. I suppose I like an ending that IS an ending, and felt that I was left in limbo about quite a few of the storylines, hence only 4 stars.
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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 quick
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“Дело в том, что галактики разбегаются в разные стороны, как точки на шарике, когда его надуваешь. У атома водорода только один протон. В капле воды сотни миллионов атомов водорода, а галактики состоят из сотен миллионов звезд.
Девять планет вращаются вокруг нашей звезды. Мы не центр Солнечной системы, а Солнечная система совсем не центр нашей галактики, которая в свою очередь не является центром разбегающейся Вселенной.
Мать Тотоя не отправится в ад, потому что она уже там. Твой отец не в аду, потому что там никого нет. Но он и не в раю, потому что там тоже никого нет. Когда шайка бандитов гонится за тобой по незнакомым улицам или ты врезаешься со скоростью двести миль в мостовую, летя вниз с небоскреба Легаспи, — после этого не происходит ровным счетом ничего.”
“Возьми шесть кубиков и сложи их в форме распятия. Потом возьми еще два и расположи их по обеим сторонам креста. У тебя получился тессеракт, трехмерная фигура. Но это всего лишь след четырехмерного куба.
Если разложить квадрат, получится линия.
Два измерения складываются в одно.
Куб складывается в крест. Три измерения превращаются в два.
Проекция гиперкуба дает тессеракт. Четыре измерения складываются в три.
Ты существуешь в трех пространственных измерениях Точно так же, как одномерный мальчик не может наблюдать двумерный квадрат, а двумерный мальчик — трехмерный куб, так и ты не можешь увидеть четырехмерный куб.
Четырехмерный куб есть нечто, что тебе просто не дано понять. Другое дело — тессеракт. Это уже что-то значит.
Так все обстоит для тебя и для меня, Сенте. Нам дано видеть только тень вещей, но не их суть.”
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