Review: The Alchemist – A Graphic Novel

by Kim on December 14, 2010 · 21 comments

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Title: The Alchemist: A Graphic Novel
Author: Paulo Coelho
Genre: Graphic Novel
Year: 2010
Acquired: From the publish for a TLC Book Tour
Rating: ★★☆☆☆

One Sentence Summary: A shepherd boy travels to Egypt to look for treasure under the pyramids, but ends up finding his own personal treasure.

One Sentence Review: The graphic novel doesn’t seem to match illustrations with story style, leaving the whole thing feeling just a little bit off.

Why I Read It: I’ve never read The Alchemist, so I thought trying a graphic novel of the book would be fun.

Long Review: The Alchemist is novel originally written in Portuguese about a shepherd boy named Santiago who has a dream he will find treasure under the pyramids. Along the way to finding this treasure, he meets a gypsy woman, a man who claims to be a king, and an alchemist, who help Santiago find his destiny. The king repeatedly tells Santiago, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” and that it pays to follow your dreams, however unlikely they may seem.

I think I should start this review with a note that I haven’t actually read all of the novel The Alchemist which this graphic novel is based on. I checked the novel out from the library to read, but only read about 100 pages before deciding the book wasn’t quite for me. It was just too… New Age-y? I’m an optimist, but I just found the story and message not that absorbing, which is probably very much do to with me and almost nothing to do with the book.

That said, I was still optimistic about reading the graphic novel — it felt like the novel (which I think is technically a parable — “a succinct story, in prose or verse, that illustrates a lesson”) could adapt really well to an illustrated format, if the illustrations could really enhance some of the imagery from the book that I enjoyed.

Unfortunately, I felt a pretty big disconnect between the story and the images in the graphic novel, which made the adaptation also a bit disappointing. It felt like the drawing style didn’t fit with the style of the story, which was sort of fantastical, image-heavy, and full of symbolism. I expected the images to be similarly lush, like the beautiful cover image.

However, the images in this adaptation are very “comic book.” That’s actually not a very helpful distinction; I guess what I mean is that they look traditional, very much like how I’ve seen classic super hero comics illustrated. The illustrations didn’t add much to the story or make me think about the book in a different way, they were just sort of there.

Additionally, the illustrations included a big pet peeve of mine: women in comics with tiny waists and giant chests wearing skimpy clothing. I don’t get why that was there — it didn’t really add anything to the book, and just made the few women in the story into sex objects for no reason. I didn’t get a chance to scan in an image, so you’ll just have to trust me.

This a pretty lame review, but I think that’s because the graphic novel left me feeling pretty “meh.” Since the original version of The Alchemist didn’t really work for me, and I didn’t think the addition of illustrations enhanced it much, the graphic novel just fell flat. I do think people familiar with and a fan of The Alchemist might enjoy checking this one out , but it just wasn’t quite for me.

Other Reviews: One Book Shy | The Zen Leaf | There’s a Book | The Brain Lair | Colloquium | Wise Owl Book Review |

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

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