Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Beach” as Want to Read:
The Beach
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Beach

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  81,350 ratings  ·  3,259 reviews
After discovering a seemingly Edenic paradise on an island in a Thai national park, Richard soon finds that since civilized behavior tends to dissolve without external restraints, the utopia is hard to maintain. (Nancy Pearl)
Paperback, 436 pages
Published February 1st 1998 by Riverhead Books (first published October 14th 1996)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Beach, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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 u…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
Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  81,350 ratings  ·  3,259 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Beach
Kylie D
I really have no idea how to describe this book, it was mesmerising. Richard, a British backpacker arrives in Bangkok and on his first night in a hostel is given a map that leads to a so-called Eden, a secret beach that few travellers know about. So with French couple Etienne and Francoise in tow, they try to find the island. When they do life is idyllic for a while, then cracks start to appear, and they find that their Eden isn't the Paradise it seems.
I can't even pinpoint what it is about this
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 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: asia, weird, creepy
Great, bizarry, chilling story, keeps you turning the pages til the end. In the top of my booklist definitely.

Note 2018 after this book came up again in my goodreads library: another 'classic' which I really found intriguing back then. Need to reread definitely.
Nov 10, 2009 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. ...more
May 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

All I knew about The Beach before beginning is that it was a movie I never watched starring little Leo that was released about 72 years ago and that it seems to be on many “if you want to call yourself a bibliophile, you better read this” type of lists. Now that I’ve checked it off my reader’s bucket list I’m a bit at a loss for what to say. This is a story that had A LOT of things that I typically enjoy.

Potential utopia that eventuall
Dannii Elle
Actual rating 4.5/5 stars.

Every year a new horde of backpackers descend upon East Asia in an attempt to escape the banality of their everyday lives. Richard is one of them. He finds the peace of mind and the perspective he hoped to garner with his travels obstructed by the inauthenticity he instead feels there. This stems from the thronged streets full of, it seem to him, like exactly the sort of individuals he hoped to escape from. He too, he then realises, is just one more face inside this hor
Dec 26, 2020 rated it liked it

Not to sound like someone who doesn't like the sun, or appreciate jaw dropping scenery, but I'd rather spend my time in Oslo in the middle of winter than sweat myself to death in the sticky heat of Thailand. I'm not one of those people who so wanted to be Richard after reading the novel or watching the movie. My idea of paradise isn't anywhere near that beach. I don't even like beaches. Not that I want to find myself in that part of the world again, but I'd be more enthusiastic about exploring a
Mar 27, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook_nook, reviewed, 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
Joe Valdez
May 26, 2014 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
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: seen-movie, 2018, thailand
Started & finished this within 5 days.

Fantastic, i LOVED it.

Much darker than the film.
May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have never watched the film but after reading this book I'm itching too!

I could have read this book in one sitting given the chance. I was so drawn into it that when I put the book down I was always disappointed to find myself in my living room rather than on the beach. I can see why this book was a big hit.

Well written, great storyline!

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
Hannah Eiseman-Renyard
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
Scribble Orca

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
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
Surely a modern classic in the making. The search for an Eden in Thailand. The adventure. And what happens in Eden? Multi level book with the quest for and concept of how little untouched virgin lands remains in the world. A society outside of authority how will civilisation be maintained? What are the rules? Every writer's dream, a spectacular debut novel! 8 out of 12.
Snow White
Nov 23, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked the story, atmosphere and the adventurous quality of this book. But I thought the writer struggled with his descriptions. He didn't always manage to convey the characters' emotions or thoughts in a convincing and natural way, nor did some of the scenes seem fluent. Plus I really disliked the protagonist, Richard. His immature, superficial macho behaviour got old really fast.
3.5 stars
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
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
Timothy Urgest
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
”Tell me why you’re here!”
“The horror,” he said.

Paranoia in paradise.

Perspective meets perception.

Eden has rules.

Can we trust ourselves?
Jul 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Beach was unexpectedly fantastic. It was intelligent, perceptive, unsettling, and filled with tension and intrigue. The writing hits a perfect tone: highly readable; colloqual while avoiding cliche. There are themes of western privilege, the fall of man, and a loose allegory of Vietnam. Sure, there are some predictable parts, and elements that are awkward or undeveloped, but on the whole I was surprised how well constructed and enjoyable it was.
Jan 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Having seen the film a couple of times, I was worried it would ruin my experience of the book, but not at all. This was a great read, and quite hard to put down, as I wanted to know what was going to happen next (even having seen the film). The film and the book version feel like two very separate things to me.
Another excellent book which I forgot to add on here! Definitely need a reread!
May 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Michelle Curie
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, adventure
Only a few weeks ago I realized that the Alex Garland who wrote this book was also the Alex Garland who wrote and directed Ex-Machina and turned Annihilation into a film. What a man. Minutes after this epiphany I bought this book and dived straight into a reading experience that I won't forget anytime soon.

Richard is your typical backpacker - young, reckless, and looking for an adventure in East Asia. In Thailand, he is given a map that promises utopia on an unknown island. What he finds there e
Wow, my head is all messed up after reading this book. Although "The Beach" is a travel adventure novel, it also has a dark and a disturbing atmosphere.
The first half of the book was good, building up the momentum gradually, but the 2nd half was more captivating as it was more suspenseful, thrilling and tense.
I like how Alex Garland portrayed the characters in the book. I especially liked how he presented Richard's character. He's the kind of character you'd probably dislike. But weirdly, I di
Julie Ehlers
The Beach made a big splash when it first came out and was quickly followed by a movie version starring Leonardo DiCaprio. I was curious to check it out, so naturally I bought a copy of the book and then let it follow me from apartment to apartment before finally reading it nearly 20 years later. I wonder if I would have liked it more if I'd read it back then? Don't get me wrong, this was entertaining, but also flawed: All of the characters (except the French guy) were horrible people, the Vietn ...more
Karlyflower *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

A Gen-X novel of paradise found, and lost. Or was it even paradise to begin with? It would be hard to talk about The Beach for very long without mentioning Lord of the Flies or Vietnam movies, but it's also sort of like The Magic Mountain in a funhouse mirror. In contrast to Mann's novel about a new arrival to an isolated hermetic community who finds himself eerily well-suited to the community's timeless inertia, The Beach is about being ill-suited to such a place, growing bored with it, and abo
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
YA Buddy Readers'...: The Beach by Alex Garland - Starting 17th September 2020 6 10 Sep 20, 2020 08:14AM  
Book Snails Book ...: BOTM July 2020 -- "The Beach" by Alex Garland 11 15 Aug 20, 2020 02:33PM  
Catching up on Cl...: The Beach -- Buddy Read 5 46 Aug 22, 2016 09:00AM  
Can't wait to read this! 9 105 Feb 13, 2014 08:38PM  
Couple on the island 3 107 Nov 29, 2012 11:34PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Pattaya Youtuber: And other true stories from Thailand
  • Mr. Nice
  • The Backpacker
  • Lost in Yaba: Down and Out in Laos
  • Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America's Strangest Jail
  • The Gringo Trail
  • The Damage Done: Twelve Years of Hell in a Bangkok Prison
  • Shantaram
  • Are You Experienced?
  • Banco: The Further Adventures of Papillon
  • Please Don't Say You're Sorry: An Empowering Perspective on Marriage, Separation, and Divorce from a Marriage-Loving Divorce Attorney
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  • High Fidelity
  • Adoption Stories: Excerpts from Adoption Books for Adults
  • Trainspotting (Mark Renton, #2)
  • The Rum Diary
  • The Basketball Diaries
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Alex Garland (born 1970) is a British novelist, screenwriter, and director.

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 beca

News & Interviews

Horror fiction, as a genre, can be fascinating to track over time. The scary stories that we tell ourselves often reflect the anxieties we’re...
197 likes · 35 comments
“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.” 206 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.” 151 likes
More quotes…