‘Something slippery was wrapped around my neck. Intenstines. Mine, I thought, my brain convulsing with fright.’
Alex Garland gives us a taste of horror in this fast-paced adventure that sees avid traveller Richard stumbling across a seemingly idyllic community on his ventures through Thailand. An enthusiast of Vietnam War movies, Richard finds himself driven by the danger of the Thai guards, risking his life for the thrill. And with Richard comes his companion, the imaginary Mr Duck: found dead in the hotel room next to Richard’s in Bangkok having slit his wrists, leaving Richard with nothing but a map.
Quite a feat for a contemporary author, and with a first novel too, but Garland disguises himself as an established novelist with this remarkably intelligent page-turner, acclaimed a ‘cult classic’. Garland wastes not a word, each being packed with adventure. Through Richard’s eyes we are taken on a whirlwind, through madness and paradise bizarrely sat side by side. Garland exhibits something of himself in his writing; there is undoubtedly something behind the pen buzzing away and making for the adrenalin that races through the pages. It is apparent that Garland is itching to excite his reader and absorb them in this compelling adventure.
There is an ever present turbulence that stirs the reader’s senses, and Garland’s keen eye enables him to cover all the ‘musts’; he even manages to integrate a romance between Richard and Francoise, a running sub-plot that is bound to keep the reader transfixed.
Garland has in fact produced such an all-encompassing novel that his work cannot be faulted: an extraordinary accomplishment that is above all to be respected. Whether or not an adventure- come thriller is your thing, there is no doubt that Garland will have something crammed in there that tickles your taste buds. This is one that mustn’t be missed.