L's Reviews > The Alchemist

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
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's review
Jun 15, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: overrated, hours-i-will-never-get-back

** spoiler alert ** This book was heavy on message and light on story. Description is spare - not in the satisfying immersive way of, say, Hemingway, but in a way that leaves much to be desired, especially since the messages that dominate the text are arbitrarily enforced and often contradictory. The characters, especially the boy, are not endearing, and act capriciously. (The narrator applauds this randomness as faith or omens.) Still, some omens are relevant and others, apparently, are not. The story offers no foundation as to why this is so.

The women in the story are not well-presented. Since this book is written in the language of parable (characters, e.g., are unnamed), it would be unfair to say the women are objectified. However, I can say that the women are presented as little more than pretty faces who simply wait for their men to return from whatever adventure they seek. Fatima's 'mission,' e.g., results in a man who leaves her for a lengthy period of time in pursuit of little more than gold coins. Lucky her that she has it so easy since the protagonists' mission requires much more muscle and willpower to attain than her own; her mission is simply to wait around the well until some guy walks into her life.

Worst of all is the payoff, which is very small; for being so righteous in its intent, the actual result of his adventure is underwhelming. The fact that his treasure is material is disappointing after all that the protagonist had been through, and made the message (whatever that was) seem irrelevant. The book is presented in reality with some aberrations, and then makes a weird turn for the surreal near the end, and then ends up somewhere very normal, which all results in a lack of believability. The message is disappointing in that it would only sincerely be adopted by ultra-focused and potentially mentally ill people who care not for the affairs and feelings of others in pursuit of their own potentially petty 'personal legacies.'
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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K.D. Absolutely I have a friend who likes this book very much!

message 2: by Brad (new)

Brad Sounds like a book I need to read now just so I can rage at Coehlo and write a really pissed off review. Great review, Leah.

K.D. Absolutely I used to have a I don't care stand for Coelho but when I learned that he was the first celebrity who called the world to help us during the height of the typhoon Ondoy, I changed my perspective of him and began appreciating his books more that I used to.

I am still not crazy about him but the guy has a big heart.

message 4: by L (new) - rated it 1 star

L I don't know if all the love people have poured on this book over the years set me up for disaster, but I was just shocked by how poorly this book treats its subject matter. Maybe I should try another one of his, but not anytime soon.

message 5: by Brad (new)

Brad I've only read Zahir and I wasn't a fan (bit I didn't hate it either).

message 6: by L (new) - rated it 1 star

L Hmm looks like an interesting book. Not a bad book cover either. :)

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