The Alchemist Updated Edition Book Review: Choices, Chances, Changes

The Alchemist (Book number 12) needs no introduction because it is a much celebrated book. I heard of it from friends often and I know of several who name this book as their most favorite of all time. Interestingly, before picking up the book, I saw some recent reviews that did not praise it as much. This fired up my curiosity real good and after reading it, I must admit I did not see the heavens open up but I liked the story enough.

The Alchemist is about Santiago, a shepherd boy, chasing after his dream. It is as much as an external adventure as it is of the inside. The boy is chasing after a treasure and in the process transforms himself to be one with the world.

There are many things to be learned from The Alchemist about life, love, dreams, achievements, and hardships but the common ground is making a choice, taking a chance, and embracing changes to fulfill your destiny.

I guess this is a different view of destiny because often people think of it as something that happens to you no matter what if it is written, but The Alchemist shows that you have to stir the wheel to realize it.

But the parts that I liked best are not really the ones that talked about realizing dreams and becoming one with the world but the parts around that like the relationship of Santiago with his sheep. I enjoyed the wisdom and appreciation he has for them. I also liked the bit with the camel driver who always strives to live in the present. I think that is the only way to be free; worry can really drive people mad so best to avoid it. “Eat when it is time to eat. And move along when it’s time to move along.” The last bit was with Fatima, the dessert woman Santiago falls in love with. Her character brilliantly depicted “love without ownership“. If there is something most lacking in the world today, I say that is it. The 200 year old alchemist supported that by saying,

If what one finds is made of pure matter, it will never spoil. And one can always come back.

Some of the reviews I read say that they hated The Alchemist because everything is so obvious, but I think the beauty of the book lies in its ability to highlight “the most simple things in life that are the most extraordinary” that we tend to forget easily anyway. However, I agree with the reviewers when they said that the book can be cheesy and preachy at times. I found this most when Santiago was travelling with the 200 year old Alchemist and on the climax of the story when Santiago was trying to turn into the wind talking to the elements.

But in all, I say the characters in The Alchemist are strongly made and I connected with them. They are believable and the story reminds you of things that you know but have already forgotten. I liked it enough but it is not as blinding as I imagined.

On the photo: The updated edition of The Alchemist with an introduction from the author, interviews, and reader’s guide, given to me by My Man (thank you, babe :))

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18 thoughts on “The Alchemist Updated Edition Book Review: Choices, Chances, Changes

  1. Pingback: Where She Went Book Review: If I Stay Sequel Delivers « Prinsesa's Anatomy

  2. i read this book but I was never into Coelho’s books… di ko trip ang parable style of writing niya.. kaya I cannot really say it was inspired or found connection in his work

    • i see where you are coming from. when i first read the river piedra i sat down and wept i thought i missed something too. but this one i like best because of the camel driver. he spoke things i needed to be reminded of.

  3. >>But in all, I say the characters in The Alchemist are strongly made and I connected with them. They are believable and the story reminds you of things that you know but have already forgotten. I liked it enough but it is not as blinding as I imagined.<<

    In the end, this is what most matters, what an individual reader takes away from a story.

    Some stories are brilliantly written but the characters remain at a distance. At times, I feel professional reviewers tend to play up such work,and that's fine for them. Me, connect me to a character the way say… Anita Diamant did in The Red Tent.

    Good review!

    • i think you connect better to characters when they are solidly constructed but if they are like water than how can you reach them? another thing that i think is important is when you get to feel a story, not just read it but feel it. it’s that same connection with characters, i guess.

    • feel good book nga talaga ito ano? but i think i got inspired more by the shack. pareho silang medyo spiritual book pero mas type ko yung the shack. 🙂

  4. Buti naman hindi naman namurder much ang book, haha… I love your review. 🙂 Definitely, I know it also touched you, not in a blinding way lang. 🙂

    • it did. this book is smart in the way it reminds of what we easily forget – the important things we forget. i enjoyed the camel driver’s wisdom so much!

  5. I read this back in college and tumatak sa akin yung line about befriending your fears because it’s the only way you can conquer them. something to that effect 😉

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