The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho continues to change the lives of its readers forever. With more than two million copies sold around the world, The Alchemist has established itself as a modern classic, universally admired.
Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found.
The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories can, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, above all, following our dreams. (Goodreads)
To be honest, I don’t know what to make of this book.
I picked up this book about 3 to 4 years ago when it was all the rage (literally everybody was raving about it), but haven’t gotten around to actually reading it. Now I finally did – and I was a bit underwhelmed.
First of all, I felt that the writing simply lacks the ‘draw’ and ‘gravity’ to reel the readers in the story and keep them engaged. It’s not that I found the story downright boring – I would have DNF’ed if it was – but I was just along for the ride; I just let my eyes glide through the book, letting my eyes follow the words. Hardly anything strongly stuck with me, especially in the latter half.
Although the imaginary, mystic tone of the writing does fit this somewhat esoteric undertones of the story and captivated me to some extent, but the lack of the punch and the draw resulted in this book being just an Okay read, at least for me.
As for the plot, the first half was much better than the latter half. The premise where a boy embarks on his new life as a shepherd and pursues his treasure guided by his recurring dream sounds promising and the execution was pretty good here – there are some strong scenes that kept me emotionally attached to the boy, but then again, I think the brevity of the book backfired; the less than 200 page count didn’t give this book enough space to develop its story and breathe, simply ended up being a quick read which leaves very little impression.
The whole ‘omens’ and ‘the pure language of the world’ plot seemed a bit too convenient and contrived, too. Although I can understand there are things that just cannot be explained from an objective point of view; there are philosophical elements in our lives that are beyond our control and the plot is supposed to come across convenient because the underlining theme is ‘omens’ and the fate is ‘already written,’ but I just felt everything that happens in this book too unrealistic and plain-sailing.
I especially couldn’t wrap my head around the ‘turn-a-boy-into-the-wind’ segment which was supposed to be the most climactic scene in this book; there are a lot of things discussed in this segment, with the wind, with the desert, with the desert, and with the ‘hand,’ but we, (at least) I didn’t get to see how the boy learned the lesson through his journey and what he has gone through as much, the whole segment, the whole dialogue especially what comes from the boy’s mouth lacks the conviction; I felt my interest quickly withering away and my ‘auto-pilot’ switch turned on. I did get a kind of ‘Zen-riddle’ feels from the segment and found it intriguing though.
It’s not that I didn’t like the plot at all, I saw some values and potential in the plot, and this book touches on the importance of ‘following our dreams,’ but I am afraid the execution was rather poor and made the message this book tries to convey simply blur and obscure – it could have been much better had it been twice as thick as the actual book and been given enough page count to weave the story in detail. (Which means, everything feels like going too fast.)
I just couldn’t figure out the targeted audience for this book; is it written for kids? Adults? Teenagers?? The brevity makes sense if the first option was the case, but this book could have been much better whatever group of readers this book was targeted at; I wanted it to be much stronger than this, I was expecting a lot more from this book.
But then again, this is just my thoughts – it’s just to say that I didn’t get to click with this book and you might even like this book. So I’ll encourage you to pick it up and see how you feel about it.
I gave this book 2 out of 5 stars.