A book which addresses the issues of paradise. How far one man will go to find it and the awful effects it can have on his mental health. A gripping read!
Simple plot summary to reveal no spoilers:
Richard, a young English traveller comes across a bizzare Scotish man whilst residing in a run down hotel in Thailand. As discussion between the two develops Richard is given knowledge of 'the beach'. Together with a young and beautiful French couple, Étienne and Françoise, the trio sets out to find what they believe must be paradise on earth.
After various obstacles block their path, the trio find themselves on the picture perfect beach and it is not long before they are welcomed into the community and absorb themselves in the daily routines.
But as expected, paradise comes at a price. Natural consequences lead to devastating events and particular characters devise an uncanny personality. But will the trio remain on the beach or leave to return to the hustle and bustle of everyday life?
The beginning seems slow in comparison to the quick development of events from middle to end. Nevertheless, the scene, introduction to characters and plot is detailed, producing a visual image for the reader.
The description of movements and emotions felt by Richard leave the reader following his psychological changes as the impact of the beach affect his mental functioning. His opinion on the world leaves the reader questioning their own views about Utopia and whether it can really exsist?
The theme of a Utopia is a tough concept to grasp. Many authors have tried to invisage a world of peace and freedom. But Alex Garland turns a simple, yet beautiful, Thailand island into a place of dreams. This real life island adds a realistic spin on Utopia, highlighting the dangers which come with paradise.
Though often dark, Garland's novel is fresh and engaging with modest flourishes that never detract from the story. Capturing tense action scenes and picture perfect emotions, the characters are well-drawn and unabashedly defined by their status, relationships, and how they are perceived by other characters.
Overall is it an absorbing and thrilling read.