Note: if the copy I read had had this creepy-ass cover, I would have had to put the book in the freezer whenever I wasn’t reading it, but I couldn’t find the cover I was reading. So.
Ok, here’s something you may not know about me: I have married my opposite-person. He is tall; I am short. He is science; I am arts. He is rational and even-keeled; I am a basket-case with an itchy all-caps finger. He is good at sports; I am good at falling down. He is not currently hopped up on cold medication…
Anyways, this usually results in me hating all the books he loves and loving all the books he hates. Which is why, after he’d read and enjoyed The Beach, I was all set up to scathe about it. No scathing! There will be no scathing today. You must look elsewhere.
Ok, so Richard is travelling in Thailand, hooks up with Etienne and Francoise (could they be any more French?), and the three of them accidentally-on-purpose find this commune hidden away on some off-limits beach, all surrounded by cliffs and shit and on some government-protected island. Utopia!
Everyone on The Beach has jobs, but no one works very hard and everyone gets fed and much of the day is spent sunbathing. Communism at its best! Richard has a little crush on Francoise, but she’s with Etienne and that’s sort of awkward, and there’s this guy named Bugs who Richard sort of hates, and that’s a bit awkward, and then Richard keeps having these waking dreams about a man he’d found dead in a hostel in Bangkok (who, I sort of forgot to mention, had initially directed him to The Beach) and that’s awkward too, but communism can only do so much.
The whole thing feels very Lord of the Flies and you’re on teeny tiny tenterhooks for most of the time, until right up at the end when HBLAMMO! *Shit. Hits. Fan.*
The whole story was verrrry gripping and the characters were interesting and and only very intermittently did Garland get too travel-bloggy for me (‘and then we took this bus here and an overnight train here and a tuk tuk here and then a boat, and that’s how we got to Koh Samui’).