The Beach - Alex Garland Given time, Shangri-La never is.You must grow up and live in the real world, complicated and unpleasant as it may be. Seems to me this is something every generation has to figure out for itself, with assistance or hindrance from various psychoactive substances. Richard, age 21, goes to Thailand and finds his way to a hidden settlement on a secluded island that is supposed to be off-limits to tourists. The people there are enjoying an Edenic existence, getting nearly everything they need from the land, including unlimited doobies for all. Circumstances arise that divide the group, and the copious THC rations only provide fuel for the paranoid delusions and poor judgment. Eventually it all dissolves in a rather grisly fashion.It was disturbing to me that Richard saw the whole thing almost as a game, even after all the horror. He considered the experience his compensation for not having been born in time to be a Vietnam veteran. 3.5 stars, but I can be generous and round up to 4 because the youthful author showed a convincing grasp of group dynamics and self-interested behavior. The rivalries, jealousies, and power struggles felt very true to real life. I should add that if you are squeamish, you might want to avoid this book. The author didn't go overboard with the gross-out detail, but there are some pretty graphic scenes I could have done without.