Customer Reviews for

The Alchemist

Average Rating 4
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(90)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

150 out of 163 people found this review helpful.

Although I feel that previous reviews will make mine look incomp

Although I feel that previous reviews will make mine look incompetent and childish, i still feel like putting my two cents in. This novel portrays Coelho's view on the meaning of life, that everyone has a preset dream and destination, but it is their choice to take the...
Although I feel that previous reviews will make mine look incompetent and childish, i still feel like putting my two cents in. This novel portrays Coelho's view on the meaning of life, that everyone has a preset dream and destination, but it is their choice to take the journey or not. Paul tells his story by using a shepherd boy that decides to follow his path to get to his destiny. the shepherd, Santiago, meets several people that open his eyes and show him why he has decided to do this.
What I liked about this book was the great imagery Coelho uses throughout the novel. Also, I love that this book is different than any others I have read. It takes you on a journey, not an adventure to slowly get the author's point across. You will feel yourself getting smarter and more adventurous as you read this book.
What i disliked about this book was that it is slow at points and gets a little monotonous, but if you keep pushing, it will all be well it.
I am only 14 and I have read this book 2 times. It makes you want to make sure you don't hold back in your life, that you achieve something amazing. Forget about the normal way of life. I would recommend this book to anyone who is willing to read a book that will question the way you are living and will make you want to drop everything and go find your alchemist.

posted by pucketth on May 16, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

47 out of 86 people found this review helpful.

The Alchemist's Real Message

Although Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist conveys an uplifting message about the individual's potential for greatness, the novel's over-simplicity and dependence on a message of reassurance detract from the strength of this central theme and its pertinence to the human expe...
Although Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist conveys an uplifting message about the individual's potential for greatness, the novel's over-simplicity and dependence on a message of reassurance detract from the strength of this central theme and its pertinence to the human experience. Through the narrative of a young shepherd boy named Santiago, Coelho constructs the age-old story of an individual pursing a dream. However, what distinguishes Coelho's story from all the others is the bold universalization of this theme that he makes when he claims that, "To realize one's destiny is a person's only obligation." Now although this is certainly an empowering message, and one that contributes to the novel's widespread appeal, the underlying message of Coelho's feel-good story of Santiago's journey across continents in search of his "Personal Legend" should not be taken at face value. In spite of its apparent self-empowerment, Coelho's simplistic reduction of achievements to desires actually diminishes the individual's role in the pursuit of his or her Personal Legend. One concept that the young Santiago is taught before his quest even begins is that when in pursuit of a Personal Legend the entire universe aids one in achieving it. This message, central to the worldview that Coelho advances in the novel, would seem to be encouraging, but in fact it is highly misleading. To say that just because a person desires something it is within the realm of his or her possibilities to achieve it is in stark opposition to the facts of reality. A person does not realize his or her goals by the mere fact of experiencing hardships as Santiago is counseled to do under the banner of the adage that the world works in mysterious ways. Instead, one triumphs over trials and tribulations by means of one's efforts and abilities, not by a naïve reliance on fate and destiny. And it is for this reason that The Alchemist is not really a novel in praise of the individual's capacity for greatness, but one that denigrates this potential by devaluing the individual's role in influencing his or her own destiny. In all, if you are looking for a book that truly lifts your spirits and speaks to the true nature of your infinite possibilities, look elsewhere, you will not find it here. In The Alchemist all you will find is a striking fatalism hidden beneath the guise of one boy's quest for his Personal Legend.

posted by Alex_Ades on August 30, 2009

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  • Posted August 24, 2010

    Awful, Awful, Awful

    I know i'm in the minority when it comes to disliking this book. I loved the first 50 pages (which approximately 1/4 of the book since it only has 163 pages). After that author Paulo Coelho got a bad case of the repeats. I know this book is spiritual and i feel a little guilty about this review but I can honestly say this is one of the worst books I have ever read. On a good note I think I might have found my personal legend....not to read another Paulo Coelho books again,

    26 out of 56 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2010

    There's nothing here you haven't already learned

    I can't understand what all the excitement is about surrounding this book. Yes, it is a story of self-discovery and remaining true to one's dreams, but there's nothing here that's new. The message is simplistic and superficial, and delivered in a heavy-handed style. As literature it is weak. There is no character development to speak of. The writing is repetitive and tedious, as though intended for children who often need to be reminded of key points. The fairy tale style is engaging at first, but is not enough to sustain interest. The best thing about this book is that it is very short.

    15 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2007

    Boring

    The idea of the story: a young man setting out on an adventure, in search of a treasure that seems to be a real mystery was intriguing. In the 1st 2 chapter you get the main idea of the story quickly, it¿s about searching within and find your destiny, listen to all that is around you for your life ahead is already written in your personal legend. Great concept, but to keep going on and on about it in every chapter was very repetitive!! It seem like the author didn¿t think we were smart enough to remember what a personal legend was in the 1st couple chapters, so he had to repeat it in Every chapter. The whole adventure part of the store dies with to much talk about personal legends and languages of the world sico philosophy .

    9 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 11, 2010

    got bored

    skimmed through the last 100 pages. the end was cliche and a bit of a let down.

    8 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2012

    Yawn

    Predictable from the first chapter.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2012

    Zero stars. New age mumbo jumbo being taught.

    What a sad little book written by a confused man. What a waiste of paper and money i spent to try it out. This author rediculously and with full intent places a grain of sand and mankind on the same level. I could go on but i am tired of waisting time on this book.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2012

    Follow your heart?

    A book of morals for the conceited and self-centered masses who in spite of evidence to the contrary take the call to "follow your heart" as wise...all ya gotta do is watch for "omens" and live to please yourself and the universe will back you up! Pass.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2013

    Couldn't Put It Down (fast enough).

    Lightweight, new age, claptrap. Completely transparent and uninspired.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    Wa-haste.

    A few years ago, I had the misfortune of having a hipster idiot as my 8th grade english teacher. Please teachers for future reference--do not make your students read this. I love reading as much as the next person, but this book was like some sort of joke with a little boring thrown in the mix. I can't express how awful this book is, ewhsjdidndjd. Go read the hobbit or something.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2012

    Dont read.

    Boring book don't read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 11, 2012

    ?

    much ado about nothing

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    I would give zero stars if i could

    This is the worst book I have ever read. Do not waste your time. The good reviews convinced me to read it and I am sorry I did.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2011

    Hated it

    This book is extremely boring, and is more of a self-help book than anytjing else. The main character's is used around 3 times, total. The characters have no depth and nplot is the most boring I'

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2011

    Horrible Book.

    "To realize one's destiny is a person's only obligation." from "The Alchemist" should read "To realize his destiny is a man's only obligation.". Contrary to all of the glowing reviews on several pages of the book and on this website, I found "The Alchemist" to be the most misogynistic story I've ever had the misfortune to read. Although the novel demeans women throughout, I'll reference just two instances of what I mean:

    From page 74: "He thought of the merchant's daughter, and was sure that she had probably married. Perhaps to a baker, or to another shepard who could read and tell her exciting stories--after all, he probably wasn't the only one."

    - and -

    From page 123: "That she was waiting for him, a woman awaiting a courageous man in search of his treasure. From that day on, the desert would represent only one thing to her: the hope for his return."

    Argh! Obviously the first woman was too stupid to read or create her own stories or to have her own destiny - other then to be fortunate enough to marry. And the second woman could only pine for the incredibly courageous godlike man who might deign to
    return one day (of course, after he had fulfilled his destiny).

    Apparently the only destiny a woman can have is if she is fortunate enough to have a man (who of course has a true, real and noble destiny) notice her and marry her (eventually - after he has fulfilled his destiny).

    I cannot recall a more egregiously demeaning treatment of women in all of literature - particularly in a novel masquerading as some sort of uplifting, inspirational tale. Like "The Emperor's New Clothes", apparently a lot of readers were fooled.

    Shame on you Paulo Coelho.

    In case it isn't obvious by now, I am a male who has enormous respect and admiration for women.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 5, 2009

    Inspired way to absolute obliterate any two hours

    I recollect suffering through Jonathan Livingston Seagull some years ago. Reasoned that this inane, pointless, witless, stultifying book was popular only because you could peruse it in very short time and then tell all of your admiring friends you just read one of the best books ever.

    The Alchemist is even worse. Couldn't decide his target audience: the mentally challenged? Humans between the ages of 1 and 6? Masochists? Republicans? No. Has to be the JLS syndrome: write something quick and stupid so readers will rave about their favorite best seller.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2009

    Pedestrian

    A very pedestrian book that utilizes every element of the "hero's journey" motif in the most commonplace fashion.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2003

    HORRIBLE!

    This has to be one of the worst books that I have ever read! 'Paulo Coelho's charming fable will enchant and inspire an even wider audience of readers for generations to come.' MY LEFT BUTTCHEEK!! This book was about a stupid guy who goes looking for a worldly treasure! I mean, seriously. IT SUCKED! I don't understand why it would even be printed in the first place. The guy who wrote this book has no skills at all. He must have been drunk when he started to write this book. I SERIOUSLY CAUTION ANYONE WHO WANTS TO BUY THIS BOOK. IT IS NOT SOMETHING TO SPEND YOUR MONEY ON.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2015

    The Alchemist is a bad self help book that tries to disguise its

    The Alchemist is a bad self help book that tries to disguise itself as a fable. Delving into this book I was deceived into thinking it was about a young boy on a quest for treasure. Nope. Instead I got to read a book constantly preaching a load of shoddy morals otherwise known as “The Language of the Universe.” Paulo Coelho would’ve been better off shortening this and putting it as an article in some religious magazine. I come from a non-religious background, so maybe I am sounding biased. But  the book is simply overrated, and constantly repeats the same cliche “morals”. Upon seeing the spiritual aspect of this book come to the surface, I thought I was about to jump into an ocean of deeper meaning. Upon jumping, however, I hit the bottom of what turned out to be a meaningless puddle. The premise of this book was very surface level and could’ve and should’ve gone much more deeply into spiritual content. It also had little to no characterization, as if written by the boy depicted in the novel. I’ve seen instruction manuals with more sparks of literature than this watered down Mad Libs book of philosophy. The characters were treated as if they were inanimate objects, going by names such as: the Boy, the Girl, the Englishman, the Alchemist, etc. The book didn’t even describe the physical appearances of the characters. 
    All this being said, I did enjoy the very first part of the book when Santiago, the main character, was simply a shepherd. After he meets the Old King, however, is when the book loses its temporary spark. The failing point in the novel came when Santiago changes the course of his entire life based on the advice of a complete stranger. This is especially annoying to me considering he has crafted his own life and seems happy. Coelho seems to be teaching us to look to strangers for life advice. There are some inspiring parts of the book. For example, after being robbed Santiago doesn’t give up on his dream of traveling to Egypt to find the treasure he dreamed about. Rather, he works for nine months in a glass shop to raise money for his journey. The problem is the original parts weren’t inspirational, and the inspirational parts weren’t original. In the end, the reader finds Santiago beaten by robbers, left penniless in the desert laughing at the pyramids. Upon finishing the book I found myself frustrated and more than disappointed. I’ve heard that Paulo Coelho has written great works of works of literature, but I wouldn’t classify this as one of those.  

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2014

    Boring. Too much reading between the lines.  Didn't like traveli

    Boring. Too much reading between the lines.  Didn't like traveling through a desert setting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2014

    Not my favorite Not ny Not my favoritr

    Had to read it for school and i did not enjoy it. I was glad it was short. Would never read it again or pick i up again.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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