The Alchemist Review

Alchemist: A Fable about Following Your Dream: ...

Ebook, 182 Pages
Fiction/ Philosophy
By: Paulo Coelho
Rating: 🌟🌟 1/2

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

I am starting this review by pointing out that this is my dad’s favorite book, one of my close friends favorite book and also one of the doctors I like in the university’s favorite book. I always had a feeling that it is just not the right book for me. I got curious though (If you know me well, you know how much of a curious person I am) and had to read it to see what all of the fuss is about. I had more reasons to like this book than not to. Unfortunately, my expectations were in place because for the most part I did not like this book.

The writing is simple, I expected it to be a bit more complicated and harder to understand which was one of the reasons that made me evade the book for a long time. I was surprised by the fact that it was very available, very easy to digest. That being said, the book is read like a parable and has a focus on philosophical themes so it is certainly not for everyone. It had one of my pet peeves when it comes to writing which is just repeating the same quote over and over until just seeing it becomes annoying and a turn off for me. I can accept a quote repeated twice or thrice but don’t shove it in my face every couple of pages because it will make me cringe!

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

The above quote is one of the quotes that are recycled throughout the book and it sounds optimistic. A second reason why I didn’t think I would enjoy this book is because it has the law of attraction theme. I read “The Secret” earlier this year and I hated it. I don’t think that wanting things just make it happen. I don’t agree or disagree with the law. I fell somewhere in the middle. I believe that things happen for a reason and when we want something to happen, we should work for it to happen. That does not necessarily mean that it will though.

I did not relate to the characters and that mainly explains my rating. I saw reviews of people who liked the book and most of them said that it made them feel a certain magic. I read books that made me feel that and I really loved them. If I did feel the same thing that people felt, then I would have certainly loved it but I felt nothing because I did not care about the characters at all. I liked how the author introduced the characters in a very simple way with minimal use of names too. What I did not like was the depiction of Arab characters as simplistic two dimensional creatures. I did not like the instant romance because it did not make sense, add to that the time jump that there was there and it would make it even more unrealistic.

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”

One additional thing that I did not like was the “Maktub” principle from Islam that was discussed through the story. This is a very complicated thing that Muslims take a long time to understand and some of us never do. The author oversimplified it to fit the philosophy that he was writing. I am going to tell you about another thing that we have which is the Trust principle. If we want something very much, we work hard for it and then trust God to give us the best outcome. Sometimes that can be the thing that we want and sometimes it is not and we realize that after a while when we look at things retrogradely.

Summary: Unfortunately, I had many criticisms for the book and did not end up being a fan. I can see why other readers would like it (My friend told me he didn’t like it first time but he loved it the second which I find fascinating!). I just did not enjoy the whole philosophical theme it was discussing and the oversimplifying of facts that it did. It was not the worst book that I read which is why I am still generous with the rating.


  1. I’ve just started reading this book because, like you, I’ve heard so many great things about it! It’s hard for me to make a judgement on it so far, as I’m only 10 or so pages in, but I hope it doesn’t disappoint me like it did for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of my favorite reads since high school but I get why people might not like it. I didn’t think the plot was anything out of this world nor the characters, it was very simple and anti-climatic, but I did love the magical aspect of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very honest review. I respect your POV.
    I loved the book. I think it was profound and Santiago’s questions for the alchemist should be among the top ten FAQs that every dreamer peruses.

    Liked by 1 person

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