Book Review: Veronika Decides To Die by Paulo Coelho

I have obsessed over Paulo Coelho’s writing for years… based on two books – Brida and Eleven Minutes. It has been so long that I don’t remember those books at all. All I remember is that my recent reads by the author – Zahir, Witch of Portobello and the Spy, weren’t that fruitful. Yet, I decided to buddy read Veronika Decides To Die with a instagram buddy who runs a blog called Empty House of Literature.

Honestly, I am sick of the usual book review format I use – explaining the story in a non-spoiler way, analysing the plot, characters and the writing style. I am done with it. This blog isn’t for that anymore. It’s for listing down my actual thoughts about this book, not a book review.

veronika decides to die book review

I was reading this book on my Kindle paperwhite and by the time, I hit 85%, I had already tweeted that I just don’t like the author’s books anymore. I am glad, it took me not so long to change my mind once again.

Veronica Decides to Die is a book that begins with the character,  a youthful and beautiful woman, deciding to end her life. Suicide. Does she finally die? What happens when she decides to die? Why did she die? All of that is what you look forward to finding out when you pick up this book.

Fun story: this is the second time I’m picking up Veronika Decides To Die. First time I did, the book had some missing pages right in the beginning. I had to throw away that copy, and I never picked it up again. But a lot of people claim it’s one of the best works of the author, so I grabbed the opportunity to read it this time.

I don’t really remember what was it which made two of his books my favorites, but this certainly isn’t going to be one. I mean, I loved the subjects touched – it talked of suicide, and mental illness with a lot of philosophical touches. This was my second book that dealt with characters with a mental illness (after Turtles all the way down by John Green) and I certainly loved the way how it handled all of it.

Veronika ends up in a mental asylum (how?) after her attempt to suicide and learns she has few days to live. There begins the story, with a short intervention by the author who describes how this story is so close to his heart for he himself was put into a mental asylum due to his ‘unusual behaviour’.

There are a few more characters that I found much more interesting than Veronica herself. Zedka, a woman who is a patient too. I wouldn’t want to give away their backstories, which makes their mention pretty useless here but I gotta do what I gotta do. There’s Eduard,  a schizophrenic. There’s Maria, who is cured and yet she lives in the mental asylum as a patient out of choice. You get the backstories of these characters pretty soon and each one is heart touching and thought provoking, increasing in intensity too. While Zedka’s is a short one, you feel so much for Maria, and Eduard’s story just breaks your heart.

All this while, you follow Veronika while she deals with the fact that she is going to die soon, even when she had already decided to die and failed. There’s Dr Igor who is a person dedicated to his profession, preparing a thesis on a related subject.

The mental asylum isn’t that scary asylum that you would expect after watching American Horror Story. In fact, you find it a really cozy place with lots of time and chances to introspect; even after those scary treatments that can even be deadly.

As the usual me, I would dissect the story and point out some loose ends. But here’s the thing – I firmly believe that if a book is good enough to not let you notice all of these while you’re reading it, it can be found not guilty. That’s what Veronika Decides to die is.

I went from finding this book pointless to really satisfying in the end. I am not sure I really got all the precious lessons etched in my heart but I certainly have a lots of highlights that will probably help me get my share of lessons. Or probably, I’ll read it again.

My ratings 3.5/5 stars

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