The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- 226 pages
- Goodreads rating: 3.89
Hi fellow bookworms! I’m back with a review for the very first book I read in 2022: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I had a hard time choosing the first book of the year, but I eventually settled on this one, because it is relatively short and when someone asks what your first book of the year was, you can say: “Oh just The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, why?”. So, there’s that.
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
I was a little bit disappointed with the book (hence the 3-star rating). My expectations were pretty high because of the good ratings and all the praise on Bookstagram and Booktok, but it kind of let me down. Funny thing is, now that I take a closer look at some other reviews of this book, the keyword there is “underwhelmed”. So I guess I’m not alone in my disappointment.
First of all, the main character, Santiago, is constantly referred to as “the boy”, but at no point in the book do you have any idea how old he is. This may be a tiny detail, but if you say “boy”, I may think he’s like 7 years old at first. But then suddenly that 7-year-old says he wants to marry the merchant’s daughter next year and you figure, okay I guess he’s probably a little older than I’ve been picturing him. If I’m constantly trying to figure out how old the main character is, I’m not paying attention to the story.
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
The other thing that bothered me, is the circumstances around the search for Santiago’s destiny. I mean, I love a good story about someone trying to find their destiny and eventually finding it, but in this case the destiny was basically just getting rich. So I guess this a religious self-help book written by a capitalist? Also, the boy is constantly told that all that matters is fulfilling his destiny and as long as he does that, everything will magically fall into place. Except, he forgets that he is trying to fulfil a destiny like every 10 seconds. Most of the book he’s just doing his thing in a crystal shop, making a lot of money and thinking of ways to make even more money.
I really liked learning new things about the Islam, like how the Quran dictates that you should always feed a hungry person. I love how the book paints the Islam in such a positive light. The world needs more books that show how beautiful Islam can be.
All in all, The Alchemist was alright. It had some beautiful quotes and some life lessons to remember every now and then, but also a lot of life lessons you should forget as soon as possible. If all you have to do to get something, is to want it bad enough, I would be married to Ryan Reynolds right now. Also, without spoiling anything, the ending to the story was really frustrating…