Top critical review
Begin half-way through!
Reviewed in the United States on October 13, 2018
I'm a Paulo Coelho enthusiast. I've read all the books available in English and taught several of them in my college classes. I've been hoping for some time to see newer works that matched the quality and impact of his earlier ones. Coelho's new book, Hippie, comes close to this. -- beginning about half-way through its 284 pages.
Without giving too much away, I would advise readers to begin this book on page 183 (not all pages are numbered; you'll need to find 184 and who back one!) Beginning here, the book truly gets interesting in terms of the personal/spiritual journey of its main characters. In some places , it approaches The Alchemist in terms of insight and beauty. But the previous 100 pages or so verge on the tedious. Yes, as someone who lived through the hippie era, it was interesting to see Coelho's take on it, especially as a participant. But that wore thin rather quickly. This is another journey story, and unlike The Alchemist or The Pilgrimage or other such tales, we see little to engage a reader in the day-to-dayness of this journey. The vicissitudes of hippie life, both in urban centers and on the road, have bee already explored to death over the decades since, and Coelho adds nothing new to this; neither do we really experience much of an inner journey -- until page 183. The rest of the book is stunning in places, engaging throughout, moving in its conclusion, and leaves a reader asking, "Where was all this on the ride here?"
Coelho's characters often comment on the tedium off their ride on the Magic Bus, once the initial fascination had worn off. In this book, we get just the opposite -- the tedium comes first, and then the magic happens. Still, I found this book well worth reading, but for best affect, start in the middle and go to the end. By then, the characters and their experiences will matter to you sufficiently to want to know their route to arriving there, no matter how mundane and repetitive it might seem.