The Alchemist Review

The Alchemist
By: Paulo Coelho

Paige’s Rating: (3) of 5
Recommended for: Spiritual- Fiction Readers

This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom points Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find wordly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within.

Even being half-way around the world, I have heard the hype surrounding this book but have only been able to find it in Turkish, that is until last week. So being in a book store that has twelve different books in English and six of those by Paulo Coelho, I bought this one and Brida, which I will be writing a review about shortly. But this book seems to fall into the same category as: The Last Lecture and The Secret. People whisper and rave about this book and when you pick it up to read it, you have hope that this book will forever stick with you. And when you finish it, you simply go, “Huh.”

The character was nameless or at least 98% of the time regarded as “the boy,” and naturally this wasn’t coincidence: Coelho wants us to identify with the boy. The character seems young and inquisitive, which is why he was perfect to go on a physical and spiritual journey. He seemed to ask the right questions and find the answers easily.

The plot was that of a journey in search for “treasure.” The boy first found himself in Northern Africa for some time before making his way across the desert towards the pyramids. During the travel the characters whom he met on his journey all help him take the necessary steps forward. The Universe made sure that the boy can always continue forward. He does hit a few obstacles along the way, but it was still interesting to see if he would make it to his destination.

Naturally, everything at this point sounds pretty simple and that’s the truth. The book is very simplistic in its characters and plot. Even the writing takes on a sort of folktale-prose style which is generally short, simple sentences. So is the book incredibly boring because everything is so simple? Well, everything must be simple because it’s the meaning of the book that is so complex.

While reading this book, I felt that the theme of spiritual journey was nice, but the other life lessons were too much. The different characters who helped out the shepherd spoke in short but deep sentences about many Universal truths that couldn’t be processed back to back. Coelho mentioned having fear and faith, he mentioned beginners luck in finding your destiny, he mentioned destiny and following your path in life, he mentioned the signs in the Universe God readily shows us when we follow our path, he mentioned the nature of the human heart and emotions, he mentioned a Soul of the World that we all belong to and so on and so forth. All of these issues are pretty complex, but Coelho sort of breezed through them as if they were regular water-cooler talk. I found myself purposely re-reading some sections because I felt there was a deeper message that was being glazed over.

Overall, the book was good. Was it something that changed my mind and spirituality forever? No and in all honesty, I will probably have forgotten about this book in two years time. But is it good? Yes. If you sit down with a patient mind, I find the issues raised in this book are worth contemplating in your heart.

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One Response to The Alchemist Review

  1. Amanda says:

    Completely agree. I was excited to read this because of all the hype and then found myself very disappointed. It’s a nice story and I remember it, but I remember it because of how everyone talked about it and then how I felt after reading it.