The Beach – Alex Garland

Cover of "Beach"

Cover of The Beach Movie

I had the pleasure of being recommended “The Beach” by a friend, but that pleasure pales to the actual activity of reading it. Not only does it bring up some major questioning themes (from isolation to insanity), but also some real, page–turning excitement, drawing the reader into a plot of a primal paradise, infused with the stoned inhabitants.

Richard, a bag-packer from Britain, is the narrator, telling us of a story in which a suicide occurs in the hotel room next to him (a thing which will effect the rest of his story), the meeting of a young French couple and the vague but sincere attempt to find paradise, armed only with a sketchy map.

Now, it may sound like a tired plot-line (”Look, a map! Let’s go see where it goes…), and it is has been compared to some of the classics, including Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” and William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”, but in its explorations of the rise and fall of paradise he bring whole new dimensions to the story, the likes of which I shall not spoil for you if you decide to read it but I shall say that its climax strips away a human’s personality to its most bare and primal level, an experience in which I think of as the same category as both Conrad and Golding.
Garland in his book “The Beach” has produced a riveting adventure, but so much more than that, and its voyage of self–discovery is unmissable.

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