Veronika Decides to Die

I am a sucker for a good title, but unfortunately this sometimes falls under the "you shouldn't judge a book by its cover" rule-of-thumb. Veronika Decides to Die, by celebrated author Paul Coelho, tells the story of the title character who wakes up from an initial suicide attempt with a damaged heart and only a week to live. The trouble with the book is that the author did not in turn decide Veronika would die. The result from an interesting premise is a predictable tale where Veronika discovers that her other asylum mates are real people, that she decides she wants to live, and really I can't type any more about it without boring myself. I'm not the kind of person to try to figure out plots or stories; I enjoy letting the author tell his/her tale and become immersed. So, when I say something is predictable and each new "twist" is pretty much what I anticipated, it will be even more predicable for your average novel sleuth.

But in saying that, I may be missing the point of the novel. Such books are about emotional journeys, not discovering what's going to happen. Fair enough. Unfortunately for me, I could not appreciably connect to the characters in the story, and I found Veronika herself to be, well, petulant. At 24, we mostly are, but I found the character's motivation for attempting suicide to be a product of elitist thinking. Further, the scenario that was set up for an interesting "battle-of-wills" between her and her doctor never really materialized. This may be another prediction, and one that did not play out as staid, but it was also something that I was looking forward to seeing. I didn't get my money's worth.

(For full disclosure, this is the second book I've read of Coehlo, the first been the universally acclaimed bestseller, The Alchemist. That book bored me so thoroughly I nearly did not finish it. Perhaps Paul Coehlo has it in for me. Yes, that's it. He is conspiring to make me look insane. I will consider a reprisal. Perhaps this boring blog will teach him a lesson.)

I feel like it was a good book, but only good. And it deserves a lower grade because I think the author fell short on not just a great title but an interesting premise.

PS. Even Sarah Michell Gellar in the movie version couldn't interest me in watching this. I barely made it through the trailer.

PPS. Ever notice sometimes how your disdain for something will surprise even yourself? I started out intending to write about how this book was pretty good, but in retrospect, I should start a bonfire with it. Surprise hate!

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