Blaachh...that is the sound of my vomit as I try not to splatter the book. I've heard many things about this book and so I picked it up in paper copy (and abandoned my trusty kindle for the first time since October) only to be completely disappointed.
It attempts to be some fable/moral tale with biblical and greek/roman references, but falls totally and completely on its face. I have not actually read The Secret, but I flipped through a copy once and was equally repulsed. It is certainly sad to think that this cheesy, overdone, dramatic crap is what sells as powerful literature. To illustrate, I will deal with the Capitalized Important Phrases of the book:
Personal Legend: Every person has a Personal Legend that they must follow. If you set your heart on your Personal Legend and see it to completion, nothing can stop you. There will be trials along the way, but the world will conspire to help you reach your goals. Can you see why I feel like vomiting?
Soul of the World: "Love is the force that transforms and improves the Soul of the World." This is also related to the Soul of God. When we strive for our Personal Legend we are, in fact, reaching towards and communicating with the Soul of the World. Really? We all have some sort of special meaning and we are in touch with a higher power when we reach for it? Really? (please do read this in Seth Myer's voice, only he can be so completely satirical in his tone). Really? Large quantities of the population are eating this shit up...no wonder I don't usually like the average person.
Language of the World: Love. Yep, you got it. Through love we can communicate with anything. Santiago (the boy) first learns about the language from his sheep "there was a language in the world that everyone understood...the language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose, and as part of a search for something believed in and desired." Sometimes this language expresses itself through body language and physical touch/communication; other times the language is simply through eye contact. Ultimately though the World speaks to itself with love. CHEESY!
Alchemist: Someone who understands the Language of the World and can communicate (through the Soul of the World) with all (inanimate objects, forces of nature, you name it they can communicate) and transform the essence of things simply through desire. Yep, this is the most boring fantasy novel ever written.
One phrase that Coelho missed is the Circle of Life (he could have borrowed some of Elton John's refrain): he discusses the desert's role in creating the game for the falcon, "'To nourish the falcon. And the falcon then nourishes man. And, eventually, man will nourish your sands, where the game will once again flourish. That's how the world goes.'" How did he miss this one?