I read The Alchemist back in March of 2009. Despite the fact that the book bordered the edge of something I wouldn’t normally like, I enjoyed the book. It was true enough to itself to not step over the line of too cheesy for me. Actually, now that I’ve read The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, I can see the connection to The Alchemist and the very similar tone of the two books, which enhances my experience of both. So anyway, the point is that I liked the book enough that when I was offered a graphic novel version of The Alchemist as part of a TLC Tour, I accepted. I thought this would be a great way to revisit the story.
I didn’t remember much about the original after the last year and a half. In fact, I’d even forgotten the story that I paraphrased in my original review, so that when I read it in the GN, I was completely confused and wondered if it had been in the book. Only going back to look at my review afterwards showed me that it was indeed there. Apparently my memory didn’t serve me too well here! I remembered the second half of the book far more, especially the end. That made reading the GN like experiencing half the book for the first time.
As with most adaptations of text books, there was a lot left out, but I think the GN managed to capture the essence of the story, as well as the tone. What I found was interesting was that in the GN, the characters felt more like people, whereas in the original, they felt more like archetypes in a parable. Both worked, but in different ways. I felt like I got different things out of each medium, rather than just rereading book. That was good. I enjoyed seeing things in a different way, and I loved leading up to the end when I already knew what was going to happen. It made the events beforehand take on a different meaning.
There were only a few real downsides to the GN which would cause me to recommend it only as a companion and not as a standalone. I found the first half a little confusing in places, and I imagine if I didn’t remember the second half, I would have been confused the whole way through. The parts with the wind-women felt out of place and a little silly. I think those were my only quibbles. I’m glad I read the novel first. The novel made me want to read this version, and I don’t think I would be able to say the same in reverse. That’s primarily why I recommend this only as a companion.
The art style was not my favorite. It was a more typical GN style that I tend to associate with superhero comics. I was hoping for a style that reflected the tone of the book better, but it also didn’t bother me. I was fairly neutral about the art. I was just hoping that I’d be able to linger over it in the same way I lingered over the prose of the book. I did think it was very interesting that the artist decided to draw the author into the GN. That was a really nice touch, especially with Coelho’s note about it in the beginning of the book.