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Publisher's Summary

The Khao San Road, Bangkok - first stop for the hordes of rootless young Westerners traveling in Southeast Asia. On Richard's first night there, a fellow traveler slashes his wrists, bequeathing to Richard a meticulously drawn map to "the Beach".

The Beach, as Richard comes to learn, is a subject of legend among the young travelers in Asia: a lagoon hidden from the sea, with white sand and coral gardens, freshwater falls surrounded by jungle, plants untouched for thousands of years. There, it is rumored, a carefully selected international few have settled into a communal Eden.

Richard sets off with a young French couple to an island hidden away in an archipelago forbidden to tourists. They discover the Beach, and it is as beautiful as it is reputed to be. Yet over time it becomes clear that Beach culture, as Richard calls it, has troubling, even deadly undercurrents.
©1998 Alex Garland (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about The Beach

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Bona Fide Fiction

I started reading this book soon after moving to Thailand to teach English. I have to admit I didn't know a whole lot about the book but had pretty low expectations, thinking it was just another glorified backpacker narrative, and also given the perception of the movie (which, fortunately, I hadn't seen), but I wanted to read something relating to Thailand so decided to give it a go. Boy, was I surprised when I couldn't put it down, devoured it in a matter of days, and was devastated when it was over.

I am a very visual person and sometimes, when reading fiction, I have a hard time seeing the story the author is trying to tell and I drive myself mad trying to settle upon how to visualize things (what does a particular character look and sound like, what does the setting look like, etc.). Fortunately, thanks to Garland's descriptive writing, I could magically see everything he described. Listening to this book on audible definitely added to the experience. Michael Page's ability to capture the emotions and even the dialects of the different characters was spectacular and made it even easier for me to visualize what was going on and put myself in the characters' shoes.

One of my favorite things about this book is how intimately you get to know the characters - perhaps as you would when living on a deserted island with someone. Garland's portrayals of his characters are so well built and believable that I can easily imagine these people existing in real life and could see them wandering Khao San Road or gallivanting around as tourists on any beach in Thailand. Their psychological make-up and interactions with other characters are three-dimensional, dynamic and seem very true to life to me. On top of that, the setting is rich and well-described and would appeal to most anyone interested in travel, particularly in Thailand. But what I like about this book is that it does NOT glorify travel or the idea of paradise found but goes much deeper; it bravely portrays the many challenges, dilemmas, and hypocrisies that come with leisure travel - and, really, the human condition. And as such, it's far from just another glorified backpacker narrative.

9 people found this helpful

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Weed and the beach

Any additional comments?

I liked that a good book that is critically acclaimed about pot heads on a beach exists. You can tell the guy who wrote it is mixing in his own worldly experiences with his love of weed and interesting stories. I liked this book, and the way he tells it, you can almost tell when he is referencing his own life. Ending was kind of freaky but surprises are always fun. The reader does a good job with all the characters and accents and does not have any annoying habits, I recommend this book and audio book to anyone, stoner or not. Oh ya it was interesting to read a book written by a British person, instead of saying he ways 170 lbs, for example, he says 11 stone! Haha. It is neat to see how other people view Americans. Too bad there were no Americans living on the beach, but there were some in the book playing a key role. Just don’t waist your time with the movie till you have read/listened to the book.

8 people found this helpful

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Crazy and very entertaining!

The narrator did an excellent job helping by changing voices to make it easier to follow a story with a lot of characters and a lot going on.

Eden to Hell... crazy story! Enjoyed every bit of it. Very entertaining!

I love traveling and tropical places are my favorite so the setting appealed to me from the start. The hippie life another appealing aspect to the story... but in the end it was the way the story was told that keep me into it. He describes the scenes vividly but not over done... and the added interest of Mr. Duck in his dreams and daydreams was great.

Highly recommended it.. no pun intended ;)

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

What is Paradise?

I listened to half of this audiobook as I was taking a bus from Bangkok to Krabi (one of the beach-side locations in Southern Thailand). While exploring the stunning beaches Thailand has to offer; I was listening to this tale. In short, I felt like I was living this story.

The central question of this narrative is: "What is Paradise?" Richard, the protagonist of Garland's tale is in search of paradise and therefore is trying to find the last refuge left in Thailand that tourist haven't over-run yet... The blatant hippocracy in all of this is that Richard himself is one of those tourist. This book is riddled wit such notble dichotomises such as: sane vs insane, outsider vs insider, and love vs hate.

Garland provides the reader with an epically masterful narrative of a protagonist walking the line between these opposite extremes. I was especially in awe of how tastefully Garland shows Richards descent into madness.

No better place in the world than to listen to this book while wandering through Thailand, but to any lover of traveling, I highly recommend this book due to its exploration of the pursuit of Paradise. Sometimes what looks wonderful on the outside is nothing, but madness on the inside...

2 people found this helpful

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Liked the movie better, but worth listening to if you liked the movie

Parts of the book were great. Great narrator on Audible. But too much ‘Mr Duck’. Glad I listened, wouldn’t listen again.

1 person found this helpful

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great book and movie

book is hypnotic! will inspire wanderlust! Wanna pick up and leave my favorite of all time!

1 person found this helpful

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Fantastic Narrator

Michael page was phenomenal in this audio book. sure the story was good too.

1 person found this helpful

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great book and great narrator, movie follows well

great book. try it if you like light thrillers. great narrator. movie follows story very well

1 person found this helpful

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couldn't stop listening

the narrator was great and brought characters alive. I could visually see myself on this beach. think I will read the book and watch movie, now

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Did not particularly like it

I did not particularly like The Beach. The story was well told, and the narrator did a very good job with it. But I did not like the characters very much by the end.

The premise is that this young man, Richard, is traveling around and finds himself in Bangkok. His first night there a man staying in the room next to his slashes his wrists, leaving Richard a map to a place known as ‘The Beach.’ He and the French couple staying in the room on the other side of him then decide to try to find this beach.

They discover that it is a legendary place – one everybody has heard of but nobody can find. It seems it is in a national park, in an area where nobody is supposed to be allowed to go. So they set off to find it. But first, Richard leaves a crude copy of the map for some friends they made on the more conventional tourist beach while trying to decide whether and how to go.

Eventually, they find the place but discover that they have to traverse a heavily guarded pot field to get there. The Beach, when they reach it, is as beautiful as they have imagined, and they join the small colony of people already living there, though some of the members are a little cold to them.

Richard seemed nice enough at first if somewhat lacking in purpose. But when he was assigned to help guard the colony and we discovered that what he really wanted was to use the opportunity to play Vietnam War (like it was a game – he was too young to have participated in the real war and only knew about it from computer games or something), I began to lose respect for him.

There is an ominous foreboding over the whole adventure as if something is about to go terribly wrong at any minute. And eventually, things do begin to go terribly wrong.
There is a good deal of philosophizing in the book about the idea of traveling and the mentality of travelers. These are not just people out on a two-week vacation; they wander around the world sort of aimlessly, and that has always disturbed me.