The Alchemist: A Graphic Novel – Paulo Coelho

December 20, 2010 Reading Nook, Review 17

Title: The Alchemist: A Graphic Novel
Author: Paulo Coelho
Published: 2010; Pages: 208
Genre: Fiction, Inspiration
Rating: 3/5

The Alchemist is an allegory or parable of a young shepherd, Santiago, who gives up everything to follow a recurring dream in which he discovers treasure.  Along his journey, Santiago meets several who help him and whom he helps because when someone works to achieve their dreams the universe aligns to make it so.

Reason I read it: When Trish (Hey Lady) announced on Twitter that TLC Tours would be doing a book tour of the graphic novel version of The Alchemist, I jumped on the opportunity so fast I…well, it was fast.  I’ll be the first to admit I was never terribly interested in reading the original version of The Alchemist–probably because someone I know said it was literally life changing and that always makes me hesitant and turns me off immediately (especially given the fact that this book did not really change said person’s life).  Anyway…  I figured the graphic version would be a perfect way to experience the book and right I was.

My thoughts: This is totally not my type of book.  Even just the idea of it seems a bit preachy and the premise is quite obvious–though I believe this book can be interpreted several ways depending on where one is in life, which is a plus.  Seek and you will find.  Ask you and you will receive.  The answer is right under your nose.  One must experience many things to find the answer.  If you really want something and work to achieve it, it will be yours.  If you put your mind to it, you can do eeeet. There are signs and omens all around us.   And many more that I’m forgetting or missing. 

And before you get all up in arms because you feel I’m being dismissive, let me say I’m not trying to be dismissive because I do find these messages valuable.  I simply prefer to have the messages delivered to me in a more subtle way rather than in a flat-out allegorical tale with heavy religious undertones.  Aside from my personal biases, though, I was intrigued enough by this book to read through it really quickly.  At first I was concerned about not having read the original book, but I kind of liked going into this one without any predisposed notions of what to expect.  The story was a bit choppy at the beginning and many other bloggers on the tour mention that some of the story might be missed by not having read the original first.  This may be true, but I never felt like there were holes or that pieces of the story might be lacking. 

I found the artwork gorgeous–all the pages are in full color and really it’s quite stunning. A few things that I found curious, though.  There are no pages numbers.  The women are portrayed as all having tiny waists and ginormous bosoms–except for a fortune teller who might really be a man.  Sometimes the characters had very misleading expressions on their faces and this was a bit confusing at times as I feel artwork should really be representative of emotions in a graphic novel format.  Finally, the writing was sometimes a little off. I could be wrong about this, but I don’t think the graphic novel is translated like the original is?  Either way, it feels poorly translated–the phrasing is at times awkward and not quite correct.  Despite those curiosities, I am so glad to have encountered this story in graphic format. [for some reason I can't get any of the pictures from the publisher to upload properly otherwise I'd love to share a page]

Bottom Line: Sure, I’d recommend it.  If you read the original and really enjoyed it, this might be a great way to revisit the story and remind yourself of what you liked so much the first time.  If you haven’t read the book and don’t have much interest, this might be a perfect way to get a taste as it should only take you a few hours to read through.  And even though I don’t love this book like others do, and I don’t find it earthshattering or novel, I did find a few bits of wisdom to personally take away with me.  And while I’m not rushing out to get the original novel, I might be a little more openminded to it now that I’ve seen the story.

Have you read The Alchemist [in any format]?  What did you think?

Thanks to the ladies at TLC Book Tours for allowing me to take part in this tour.

17 Responses to “The Alchemist: A Graphic Novel – Paulo Coelho”

  1. Nymeth

    You don’t sound dismissive at all, Trish. I loathed The Alchemist and all the Coelho books I’ve read to date, and one of the reasons why is the fact that the reverse of that way of thinking is a blame-the-victim mentality I have huge issues with. If you don’t get what you want in life, you must not have chased your dreams hard enough. You must not have tried/wanted it/believed enough. It’s so simplistic, and so dismissive of the very real struggles and difficulties so many people have to face. Argh.

    Anyway, you did a great job of making this review balanced and fair – a much better job than I’d have done :P

  2. Vivienne

    I really didn’t enjoy this book at all. I didn’t find it life changing, I just found it boring. I have never bothered with Coelho’s books since.

  3. Kate

    We read this book for book club awhile ago, and everyone pretty much disliked it. We too had heard how life changing it was, but the book did not live up to the hype. I agree that it’s a quick read, but I won’t be rushing out to buy the graphic novel version.

  4. Amanda

    Maybe it just depends how you go into the book. I expected it to be dull and heavyhanded and eyerollingly stupid, but I actually enjoyed the writing and while it didn’t make a huge impact in my life, I did like the book…

  5. Iliana

    I haven’t read it but sort of want to. I have read another of his books which I thought was very good so maybe one day I’ll get to it. I like graphic novels so this would be a cool way to check it out. Thanks for the review Trish!

  6. Trish

    *Nymeth – I actually looked on your blog yesterday to see if you had a review because I remember you saying you really disliked this one. I actually hadn’t thought about this book from your perspective but I see where you’re coming from. Unfortunately I think we see a lot of “blame-the-victim” in society.

    *Vivienne – Sounds like you should have read the very short graphic novel version! ;) My sister really struggled with the original and her experience only added to my lack of interest.

    *Kate – Interesting! I think it’d be interesting to read this one with a book club but it surprises me that everyone disliked it! Seems people either love it or not.

    *Amanda – I think what you get out of this book depends on so many factors–where one is in life can play a big part, I think.

    *Iliana – I definitely recommend the graphic novel version of the book if you’re interested but unsure. I actually don’t know how long the original is, but this should only take a few hours to read through.

    *Veens – I’ve seen some of the others on the tour say reading this version reminded them of why they loved the book in the first place. So maybe you’ll feel the same? Not having read the original I don’t have much to compare it with. :-/

  7. Bookfool

    I’ve picked it up several times and it didn’t pass my flip test. I kept trying to make it pass, but no . . . I’ll never read it because of that.

  8. Bookfool

    Oh, and on the blame-the-victim thing . . . I take issue with books that say, “Think positive and you’ll be healthy!” — obviously implying that you’ve done something wrong if you come down with a life-threatening illness. Sorry, I don’t buy that. My mother was a positive thinker and cancer still got her; and, my friend who got a kidney transplant? No, she did not wish polycystic kidney disease on herself by thinking bad thoughts. She inherited it. I think that’s a very similar concept to what he must have talked about.

    Off my soapbox, now. :)

  9. Jason Gignac

    I’ve never had any particular interest in this, either, and still don’t, and I really can’t say why. I like allegory, I like symbolism, religion is interesting, so you’d think those would be a plus. Part of it is what Ms Nymeth said ) I heard he preaches the whole power of positive thinking dogma, which I think is one of those unprovable points that ends up making people miserable, sometimes. Part of it? I don’t know. MAybe it’s the way it was recommended. I don’t trust gurus… :D

  10. Brenna

    I did not enjoy The Alchemist one bit. I thought it functioned better as a children’s story than an adult novel. The whole thing could have been condensed to 30 pages.

  11. ColleenFL

    Hey, Trish. Good review. I read the non-graphic novel English version and I’m not a fan of the book. I found it too preachy and boring.

  12. Erin

    I read The Alchemist years ago and remember liking it, but not much beyond that. I was surprised because it’s not the sort of book I’d usually like. I’m not a big graphic novel person and suspect I’d end up preferring the novel form, should I ever choose to revisit it the book. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this version and the story in general.

  13. Trish

    *Bookfool – Flip test, huh? And what might that be? And yes–on the one hand I do believe in the power of positive thinking, but it only goes to a certain extent.

    *Jason – For me a big part of it was the way it was recommend. Same reason why I won’t read The Secret. Sure, you might have found the book enlightening, but couldn’t you have figured out these things on your own? I do think to an extent this book preaches valuable messages–I didn’t find a lot of the ‘blame the victim’ negativity, but it is a whole lot to swallow.

    *Brenna – I have to admit I’m surprised that of these comments only one so far as been positive! And yes, maybe you’d feel better having read the graphic novel version which takes MUCH less time to read! ;)

    *ColleenFL – Well I will say that the graphic novel version wasn’t necessarily boring. I read it over a week of lunches and I was surprised how it kept my attention. But my sister attempted the original and like you was bored.

    *Erin – Not a big graphic novel fan!? Hmmmm…can you please read Persepolis or Maus? Thank you goodbye. ;) I’m glad to hear you liked this book–I’ve surprised at how many commenters felt negatively towards it! I thought this was one “everyone” liked.

  14. trish

    I found your take on this quite interesting since you hadn’t read the novel (and by that I mean, that you felt like you got the storyline and such). I can’t decide if I’d rather try the novel first or the graphic novel. I’d love to form my own opinion when this book is obviously opinion inducing!

    Thanks for being on this tour!

  15. Michelle

    I love books that can stir up emotion like this. I think I am on the same page as Nymeth however. I don’t believe that if things don’t happen like you want is not because you were not wanting it enough, so I think a book like this might just get me frustrated and annoyed. And saying a book changed your life, puts a lof of expectations on said book. I am curious though, any books that you can say changed your life?

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