Paradise exists… for a price… but are you ready to pay?
Having read almost all of Garland’s novels, I have to put my hands up and say this, so far, is his finest. It’s a most extraordinary debut novel in the vein of Chuck Palahnuik’s Fight Club. I have to admit, there is a lot of trash being written these days that is being applauded as art… but The Beach is truly a modern cult classic, and not to be missed.
We join Richard, a British traveller who meets the enigmatic ‘Daffy’ in a hostel in Thailand. After a brief introduction, Daffy commits suicide. Yet he leaves behind a detailed map to the ‘beach’, a secret paradise off the coast of Thailand that is apparently a conservation area, and forbidden for tourists. Rumours of this place have reached Richards ears before, but never has he seen proof of where it actually is. So begins an adventure to find this secluded spot with the aid of a few friends that he picks up on along the way. But little do they know what is waiting for them when they get there….
Anyone can recognise the ‘Heart of Darkness‘/ ‘Apocalypse Now‘ undercurrent of the story, but it’s what Garland does with it that matters. Like all good contemporary fiction, he takes it and moulds it into something fresh. The sights, smells, emotions and thoughts are exquisitely razor-sharp. As reader, you are there in the fray, the thick of it. I loved it and recommend it to anyone who is on the brink of giving up on finding good books to read.
I give this 5/5 stars.