Daniel Teo's Reviews > The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
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Jan 05, 2009

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bookshelves: own, novels
Read in December, 2006

After reading The Shadow of the Wind, I was left with somewhat mixed feelings. On the one hand, this is such a beautifully written book, and is in essence an ode to literature. On the other hand, there are some serious flaws which distracts from the whole experience.

The best thing about the book, in my opinion, is Zafon's skill in artistic writing. It reminds me of why I love to read in the first place, and makes me wish I could write as beautiful as this. The book contains lots of memorable quotes as well, definitely a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

So after about 50 pages in, I was ready to love this book as I seldom loved another book before. But as the story progressed, that resolution started to diminish slowly but surely. Ironically, one the more obvious flaws is Zafon's overuse of stylistic writing. It seems like everyone acts or talks in a very elaborate manner, even in the simplest of situations, and this can really become tiresome after a while.

The plot also isn't as ingenious as the hype would make you believe. Zafon does a good job creating a sense of mystery early on, and there are obvious parallels between the main character Daniel Sempere, and Julian Carax, the writer whose past he is trying to uncover. But ultimately, the stories of Daniel and Julian are seperate ones, and they just happen to interconnect with one another more by chance than by design.

By far the most troublesome flaw is the way the mysteries are "resolved". All too often, answers are given by having some side character or another tell his or her story for pages. Nowhere is this more evident than at the end of the book, where literally every single detail is revealed in the form of a (very) long letter, even details which the writer of the letter never could have known, since she wasn't even involved in those events. It's as if Zafon did not have a clue or the motivation to write a logical conclusion, and decided to just dump all the information in one place.

With a bit more attention to actual plot and character development, this could have been one of my favourite books. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed reading the Shadow of the Wind. It's just a shame that it falls some way short of its potential.
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01/30/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-34 of 34) (34 new)

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Giang Nicely put, the letter was to long and a bit omniscient for my taste. I think the author could have gotten around this but that would have extended the book by another 200 pages or so. Not that that would be a bad thing at all. I sense that the author got bored with writing the book somewhere along the way and felt like finishing it off quickly, based on the giant chunk of text that suddenly ties up all or most of the loose ends and the prologue after the climax which ties up all the loose ends to daniels story without adding anything extra really.

Cowtown Daniel,

You nailed my feelings about this book exactly. It got a wee bit tiresome for me about half way into the story.

I generally use the following measure for any book I would rank as Five Stars: has to be something I could reread more than once or twice.

Thus, The Shadow of the Wind fails to garner Five Stars from me.

Diana You wrote so well how I, too, felt about the book. I still enjoyed it for what was there, but was disappointed in how the author wrapped everything up.

four stars for me.

Melissa Andrews This is exactly how I felt about the book. Too many times the people who were "explaining" what happened couldn't have had the insight that they shared; that started to get really annoying to me. The parallelism (Julian / Penelope, Daniel / Bea) also started to grate on my nerves.

I vacillated between giving it two or three stars, but decided to go with three because it's not an awful book. I, like Cowtown, wouldn't read it again (I use that criteria for four and five star ratings).

On a side note: I listened to this as an audiobook. It was my first time listening to an audiobook from Penguin - the library usually has stuff from Recorded Books - and it was quite a production, with music accompanying various sections of the reading. The annoying this was that the narrator would sometimes use Spanish-type accents, but Daniel and some lesser characters had strong American accents. I found that interesting.

Corey I also completely agree with your review. I felt like half way through writing the book, the author ran out of ideas of how to reveal the rest of the mystery. I couldn't believe that everyone else who I know loved the book and had no problem whatsoever with this. I was starting to think there's something wrong with me. :)

Scott Archer Great review. You nailed it. Especially your criticism of how the mysteries ate revealed.

Daniel Teo Damn, I really should have checked more often if there are comments :-) Thanks to everyone who commented, although I imagine most of you won't read it since the comments are quite old.

I'm happy to read that there are others who are also annoyed by the way the mysteries are revealed. I find it quite baffling that it is apparently not a problem for many people. Then again, many people think that the Da Vinci Code is brilliant, so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised by anything anymore... :-P

Nicole Totally agree with you; I feel like I've been cheated on when I've been kept waiting for answers for so long and then suddenly all is blurted out in a sad excuse for an ending!
So obvious!

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree with your review, I read the entire book with determination to finish it rather than being captivated by it, and your words explain better than I could ever say why that was. The ending fits somehow, it's rather uncolourful but satisfying.

two not three stars from me

Barbara I couldn't put my finger on the reasons for not enjoying this book as much as I felt I ought to given the beautiful writing. But I feel you have articulated my views entirely!

message 11: by Kristof (last edited Feb 03, 2014 06:36AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kristof I was going to write a review about this book, but yours pretty much sums everything up I have to say about the shadow of the wind.

message 12: by Karina (last edited Sep 10, 2013 08:37PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Karina My thoughts exactly! Not to be rude, but Nuria's letter was all we needed. Plus, I read it in Spanish and many of the phrases were -give or take a few words- almost exactly like the ones written by García Marquez in "One hundred years of solitude". I'd like to think Ruiz Zafón was trying to pay homage to the Master of Magic Realism - without actually using this narrative style (or GM's magic for narration).

Teresa I emphatically agree with you! The mid-point was very tiresome.

Cowtown wrote: "Daniel,

You nailed my feelings about this book exactly. It got a wee bit tiresome for me about half way into the story.

I generally use the following measure for any book I would rank as Five St..."

message 14: by Ade (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ade Much as I enjoyed the story and couldn't put it down, I agree that Nuria's lengthy letter felt like a cop-out and hammered home the fact that, although Daniel and Fermín had uncovered most of the elements of the plot, they had completely failed to put any of them together. Daniel, in fact, was too busy feeling sorry for himself and landing his illicit girlfriend in trouble to apparently think any of it through. This was, to say the least, frustrating when a bit more work on the author's part might have tied it all up most satisfactorily.

message 15: by Maryam (new) - added it

Maryam Completely agree.

message 16: by Adam (new) - rated it 3 stars

Adam Clarehugh couldn't agree with this review more

Gemma I completely agree, couldn't have said it better myself

Sissy Van Dyke I agree. The ending was lazy, like the author just wanted to be done with the book. I know that feeling, but one most resist the impulse.

message 19: by Brad (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brad This is a good review of the book which addresses my major criticisms.

That said, I don't think anyone would disagree it's perfect summer/casual reading as a break from heavier and more difficult to read novels.

message 20: by Mary (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mary Sanchez i agree with you, well writing but poor trama

message 21: by Mary (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mary I'm 30% in and decided to check GR to see if anybody else had the same difficulties as I. Your review precisely sums up what has been bothering me about this book.

At the part where the doctor speaks on the arrest of a well-liked neighbor, I became confused by the reporter-like language he uses to address the the crowd because it sounds as if he's reading from a police report.

ramoncia That's all exactly what I was thinking while reading, thanks :).

message 23: by Nate (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nate Billy I do 100% agree with your criticisms, but it definitely did not stop me from completely suspending my belief, and absolutely loving the novel.
Though, my main reason for commenting is a question: does anyone know if some of the novel's faults may be due to the translation?

message 24: by Keti (new) - rated it 5 stars

Keti Ninidze yes, the fact how a lot of mysteries were uncovered by Nuria's letter was a bit disappointing, however I still enjoyed the book very much. True that the author should have made more effort for the last part of the book

message 25: by April (new) - added it

April my thoughts exactly in every point you mentioned and described.

message 26: by Victoria (new) - added it

Victoria Diaz An absolutely beautifully written book-envelops the mind from the onset-the obsessive mindset,the ritualistic self abuse,one develops and the warped,distorted perceptions of the disillusioned and disenchanted!Takes the reader on a journey into the darkness of the human psyche.Unfortunately,the ending,was extremely poor and left me questioning the author's motive?!!Did I see it coming;never.Rather weakly executed leaving me feeling less than enamoured with the plot twist.Why,would a grown man be happy with that outcome,is beyond me-it kind of borders on taboo.Otherwise a thoroughly engrossing read from the moment I picked it up!

message 27: by Eeta (new) - rated it 3 stars

Eeta I found it interesting, until everyone was telling the story of Julian which put things in repetition from different aspects. And detailed conversations of people with whom they were not conversing even. Anyone could predict the ending from the last letter and it lost the charm.

Yuyin Wang This is indeed a well written review and exactly how I feel about this book. Thanks for sharing!

message 29: by Ana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ana Aldana I could not have written in a better way my thoughts about this book. Totally agree with you

Diana Arellano I just finished the book and was not sure why I didn't love it, even though I liked it a lot! You definitely nailed down the reasons. Nuria's letter was a bit too much.

message 31: by Ange (new) - added it

Ange im only 1/3 of the way through it and was struggling to understand why i wasnt loving it as much as i did in the very beginning.. your review is excellent, outlines my same feelings. honestly not feeling like i want to finish the book.

message 32: by Ana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ana Williams perfect review!

message 33: by Lynn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lynn The overuse of omniscient italicized explanations definitely detracted from the overall experience. Wonderful characters, lots of intrigue, but too many plot holes that were wrapped up using that technique. great review!

Cathy This is 100% how I am feeling. I'm not quite done but I'm at the letter. And while I'm things are being wrapped up it is being done poorly.

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