Tag Archives: The Alchemist

Book Review: Veronika Decides To Die – Paulo Coelho

Paperback, 210 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published 1998)
ISBN13: 9780061124266

Blurb: Twenty-four-year-old Veronika seems to have everything she could wish for: youth and beauty, pleny of attractive boyfriends, a fulfilling job, and a loving family. Yet something is lacking in her life. Inside her is a void so deep that nothing could possibly ever fill it. So, on the morning of November 11, 1997, Veronika decides to die. She takes a handful of sleeping pills expecting never to wake up.
Naturally Veronika is stunned when she does wake up at Villete, a local mental hospital, where the staff informs her that she has, in fact, partially succeeded in achieving her goal. While the overdose didn’t kill Veronika immediately, the medication has damaged her heart so severely that she has only days to live.
The story follows Veronika through the intense week of self-discovery that ensues. To her surprise, Veronika finds herself drawn to the confinement of Villete and its patients, who, each in his or her individual way, reflect the heart of human experience. In the heightened state of life’s final moments, Veronika discovers things she has never really allowed herself to feel before: hatred, fear, curiosity, love, and sexual awakening. She finds that every second of her existence is a choice between living and dying, and at the eleventh hour emerges more open to life than ever before.

Veronika Decides to Die isn’t exactly an easy read. I had to stop reading it at some point because the first few chapters triggered my undiagnosed oudenophobia but I soldiered on because I just want to finish the damn book and it’s like a guessing game of whether Veronica would really die or not and if she really clocked out, what would be its cause aside from her apparent suicide attempt at the very beginning of the story?

Truth be told, I didn’t enjoy my second book from Coelho as much as I enjoyed The Alchemist. It reads ‘too academic’ and too outlandish in my opinion. Whilst I loved the secondary characters, their backstories and how well the author wrote it, the whole thing just felt disjointed towards the main character of the story. In short, we’ve several stories here with Veronica’s just leading the pack and closing it for the good masses.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

About the Author
The Brazilian author PAULO COELHO is considered one of the most influential authors of our times. His books have sold more than 165 million copies worldwide, have been released in 170 countries and been translated into 80 languages.

Advertisements

Book Review: The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

Published May 1st 1993 by HarperCollins (first published 1988)
Paperback, 197 pages
Original Title : O Alquimista
ISBN13: 9780061122415

Blurb: Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.

So, I’ve finally picked this up after procrastinating for years and it was also my very first read of the year. I’ve heard of the author since I was in high school (that was in the late 90’s) but never had the time to read any of his works for some reason or I didn’t actually try to pursue them. I’ve read some passages from his books over the years and I’ve read the last chapter of By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by accident but never fully read it. So at the dawn of the new year, I decided that it’s time for me to immerse myself to the works of Coehlo and for a first read, I find The Alchemist just about the perfect introduction to his works.

I did not expect to enjoy the book as much as I did. I was able to finish it in just a few hours and I was in deep contemplation right after. I loved the narrative of the story from the beginning to the end. I find it inspiring and insightful at the same time. I also find it a bit emotional in terms of the humanity of Santiago through his encounter with the king, the thief, the glass shop owner, the alchemist and him trying to get a firm grasp to what he’s been looking for all his life.

Though I find it preachy at some point, I still find myself enamored by the story. I was rooting for Santiago and his search for his damn treasure. I was rooting for him when he discovered love and I was rooting for him when he felt the fulfilment of his destiny. I’m on a fence about destiny and all of those things but I’m such a sucker for a happy ending.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

About the Author
The Brazilian author PAULO COELHO is considered one of the most influential authors of our times. His books have sold more than 165 million copies worldwide, have been released in 170 countries and been translated into 80 languages.