The Alchemist – 82/100 Paulo Coelho


Overview: A friend Sarah (Critiquing Chemist) sent me a list of 200 books everyone should read (Book List), so on my current work trip I decided to knock a couple out.  I had seen The Alchemist in airport book stores which I frequent on most of my trips to see what’s out and get ideas on what to read next.  I had it in the back of my mind as a book I wanted to read, but I had forgotten about it.  I’m glad I picked it up because it was a really good book.  It’s one of those books that I think everyone should read at least once a year.  On the surface it’s a story of a boy looking for a treasure, but there’s so much more to the book and it has so many layers of meaning.  The book kind of reminded me of The Pilgrim’s Progress in the aspect as at the front it’s a book of an adventure, but it’s wrapped in so many other layers.


  1. Concept: 8/10 While it’s not necessarily innovative to have a story about searching for treasure, Coelho interjects a lot of deeper lessons in his writing.  There’s so much more than the treasure hunt, and at times it gets pretty deep.
  2. Writing: 10/10 The story is very elegant and written very well.  You’d never believe that it wasn’t originally written in English.
  3. How long did it take to get into the book: 9/10 I knew I wanted to read this book for a while and it was pretty easy to get into.  There’s a line in the book about only introducing one character at a time, and it really helped to get into the book without being overwhelmed with trying to keep track of everyone. 
  4. Character Development: 7/10 Santiago goes back and forth as he attempts to accomplish his goal and thinks about giving up.  The Englishman get “enlightened” a little too easily and seems kind of one-dimensional.
  5. Plot: 9/10 The main plot of this story is really great and has some interesting twists and turns.  I don’t know if you can call the subtext lessons thrown in part of the plot, but all in all the book really works well.
  6. Pacing: 10/10 From Adalusia to Egypt, we are swept along on an interesting story about self discovery and never giving up on your dreams.  Coelho does a great job at moving the story along and at no point did it really slow down.  This is also easy for a book as short as this is, but it is still a great story.
  7. Ending:  10/10 I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I love Coelho’s sense of humor.
  8. Cover Art: 5/10 I’m not really sure what the cover is supposed to be, but it didn’t really matter.  I was going to get this book regardless.
  9. World Building:  7/10 There isn’t much detail in this book to the world.  Apart from the oasis having 300 wells and 10,000 trees, Coelho doesn’t really give us anything else.  The desert has rocks and sand, but other than that, you don’t really feel like you know what it was like.
  10. Would I read other books by the Author:  7/10 It would depend on the book and if the underlying story was something I am interested in.

Follow-up Questions:

What happened to the merchant’s daughter?  Santiago was so excited to see her then completely forgot about her.


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