Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Book review: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
(my own photo)

"There is a force that wants you to realize your destiny..."

A shepherd called Santiago keeps on having the same dream; a child takes him to the Pyramids and tells him that he will find treasure there.  He goes on a quest to find the treasure, but gets more than he bargained for along the way.

There were several aspects of the novel that I really enjoyed.   The plot moved at a nice pace, and I thought that the story and writing style managed to keep me engaged throughout.

That being said, I did have a few issues with this novel.  This book has a really clear message about fate, destiny and interconnection. I personally don't agree with it, but that isn't my main problem. Coelho seems to be a fan of "telling" his message, as opposed to "showing" it.  I think that the message would have been far more compelling if he had chosen to write about it differently, especially since he starts to "tell" his message in no uncertain terms really early on in the novel.  Maybe this doesn't bother other people as much.

Another issue I had with this book was the fact that so many characters were so fatalistic.  Maybe this is just my personal experience, but people are rarely completely willing to accept that destiny will decide everything, and that they should just go along with it.  Even people who are generally deterministic still try to control their futures, even if it is just an instinctive desire to preserve life. Some of the characters, particularly the more peripheral ones, didn't seem fully-rounded to me.

Chance of finding it in my imaginary bookstore? 60%