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Post Mortem: The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho


Genre: Literary fiction

Published: Harper Collins, first published 1988 My Rating: 1/5 stars


CAUSE OF DEATH: Multimorbidity (a.k.a.: there's a lot wrong with this one...)


CONTRIBUTING FACTORS: Part of this is expectations vs. reality, part is just that I plainly disliked the entirety of this book. This is by far the most disappointing book I have read this year, thusfar.

The Alchemist was sold to me as a metaphorical parable, written by a talented author that teaches you valuable life lessons you can carry with you for life. I agree with pretty much none of that.

Firstly, I feel it is a bit of a stretch to call this book "metaphorical". This would indicate that their is a story that in itself makes sense, but carries a deeper meaning. While technically this is what the Alchemist tries to do, I feel it fails miserably. The story itself is completely pointless and serves no other purpose than to hammer in the message that Coelho wants to tell. What is that message you ask? "Follow your heart and don't doubt yourself" There... I saved you 150 pages. Oh and maybe "it is the journey that counts". Wisdom you find on tiles in public bathrooms basicly; I did not have to read this book.

Secondly, the way this was brought across was not good. I have never read anything else by Paulo Coelho, so I will not go as far as to doubt he is a talented author, but nothing about the alchemist convinced me of that fact. The writing and basicly the entire book are extremely simple. In a way it reminded me of my middlegrade writing assessments, that I now cringe to read. Short, stocky sentences, sometimes throwing in a "lyrical word" like "the Alchemist" (which the guy is not) and "your personal Legend" just to sound interesting. Same with the story: short and lineair, with nothing actually interesting about it. Yet even though the story is so simple, Coelho still seems to underestimate the reader, by not trusting them to pick up on the "subliminal" message. Every couple of pages he literally spells it out and shoves it in your face, which starts to become really annoying after the fifth time. I don't understand the thoughtprocess behind this. If you are going to just tell us that obviously, skip the story and get it over with. This book could have been condensed down to a single page, and nothing would have been lost.

Thirdly, I did not find any lifechanging wisdoms in this book. Like I said; the only wisdoms that it contains are the ones you find on bathroomtiles. Thanks for kicking in that wide open door sir...

On a separate note, I feel these wisdoms, especially in our modern society can be extremely problematic and even inconsiderate to some. I feel like many problems could be solved if people simply used their brains over their hearts sometimes and actually took the time to doubt their own ideas and values. The extention of "if you want it hard enough, you will reach your dreams", is that people who fail at something did not try hard enough. This is just not true; life is not that simple and it is an insult to anyone who has encountered failure on their path to believe it is. However; that is obviously a personal opinion. PREVENTABLE DEATH? Unfortunately: no. For me, there was no saving this book. I only give one-star reviews to books that I actively hate while reading, and books that I feel propagate messages that I cannot agree with at all. This did both. I wish I could say any different...