Monday, May 25, 2009

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist By Paulo CoelhoThis book has been popular for quite a long time, and it sure has been lying around my apartment for several months before I got the time to read it. It is until this month that I've finished all the classes, exams, and slowed down on my paper reading a little to have a chance to give it a good read. It really is a nice book that I'd recommend reading. It's amusing, entertaining, simple, gets you thinking and fills you of courage to face the challenges in life; and it's short, I finished it in one afternoon, and then a morning.

The Alchemist is a story of a boy who goes on a journey to follow his "personal legend", in other words, the challenge his is born to face, the reason of living. All's colorful and straightforward like a child's story, yet it is full of lessons and insights. In this way it remind's me of Saint-Exupéry's Le Petit Prince(The Little Prince). There's event after event in a fast past that keeps you going on to the next page. There's no chapters, depriving readers of excuses to let go of the book for a rest. All in all, it keeps you flipping to the next page until you finished the whole book, satisfied, feeling full of wit.

But then the twist comes several hours after you finished and put down the book. You suddenly realized that the boy in the story had his life too easy to be true. The major moral of the story is "when you are following your personal legend, the whole universe conspires to help you." Yet, from experience, we know that even if you are full of enthusiasm, confidence and drive, you'll never have an easy life. Yes, several factors would add up in your favor, people would help you, but life always deals you with cruel failures, one after another, until you finally give up or stand through all of it till the goal. This story here feels like an RPG game where you've obtained the cheat code and entered "God Mode". Actually, in the story, god (I use lower case because the god in the story wasn't specifically from any existing religion) is directly helping the boy. (人家說「如有神助」,這還真有神助?!人家齊天大聖孫悟空都沒你偉大......) Everything went so smooth, god had someone point out the way when the boy is in doubt; god has someone help him when the boy needs it; god put omens in front of the boy that's too easy to spot. God has helped the boy through every single challenge so easily that it no longer is a challenge. Heck it's easier for the boy to survive bandit threats then you getting Verizon to honor your DSL modem warranty. It's easier for the boy to get a girlfriend then you to order a pizza from Pappa Johns'. Life without struggles is not real life. This is in stark contrast to The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, in which the main character is dealt with despair after despair, it is not until the final few pages that he found a little happiness in life that we are so fortunate to have taken for granted.

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