Alex Garland's The Beach was not a something I would have read if I didn't know the premise before picking up the book. This is the second review in a row where I am mentioning the cover art, so maybe I do judge books by their covers... and titles. I didn't like either in this instance. I did however love this book, so it stands mentioning that the old adage holds true.
Though I think I am in the minority when I say that I liked the Leonard DiCaprio movie by the same name, The Beach highlighted the author's insight into the traveler's (not vacationers) mentality and worldview and how a place coveted for its uniqueness and remoteness suffers when people find out. In a Thailand hostle, Richard encounters a seemingly crazy man who rants about an idyllic beach far, an Eden, from the blight of tourism and civilization. When Richard awakes the following morning, he finds a hand-drawn map and that the man had committed suicide. As a traveler, Richard decides to follow the map to a beach and a world he never expected. Now, I don't want to give too much away to those who haven't seen the movie or read the book, so suffice it to say that it is through travel that one grows to learn about themselves. That enlightened personal growth gained so rapidly when out of one's comfort zone is often accompanied by scars. There are obvious parallels to The Lord of the Flies, but I think The Beach holds its own and I encourage those with a love of adventure to go on this journey.
Recommended by Tim Andrews