When I first picked up this book in the library it was years after watching and enjoying the film adaptation, directed by the incredible Danny Boyle. I’d assumed that the read would be a similar experience to the film version but as most book lovers know, when it comes to these things we’re usually wrong… and I was wrong.
Now bearing in mind, in an interview, Garland said that he had lived in various continents in Asia for much of his teen and adult life as a traveller, you can imagine his tact for creating a vivid world would be incredible and it was; but what’s notable is that Garland does not really zoom in on building up the foundations of Thai culture or Thai life within the novel – he just speeds ahead with the action and builds upon the main individuals; lost and inquisitive souls looking for a “parallel universe” to call paradise.
At face value the book seems to be concerned only with the mystique of sandy, white beaches and escapism of the mundane reality we all face in our day to day lives – maybe this is why the book still speaks to so many and became a best seller during the nineties ‘Traveller Fiction’ period. Only if you turn the pages and look closer, the true purpose of the writing is revealed and you see that what was once so impeccably perfect and immaculate now seems tinged with self absorption, greed and eventually crumbles into a nightmarish experience which will keep you on the edge of your bed… or desk… or chair.
I really don’t have any criticisms for this book, Garland gave me more than I needed of everything; the dialogue was cleverly constructed to the extent where you felt you were sitting on the beach next to the main character Richard, smoking weed and staring up at the night sky. The relationships that developed throughout the book were perceptive and convincing and the speed of action was well balanced, with a great bitter-sweet collapse of events.
This book is definitely going down on my Best Reads of All Time list.
5 out of 5 stars.