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4.1 out of 5 stars178
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on 23 June 2012
'Veronika Decides to Die' is a strange book in that it's intention isn't really to tell a story, but to tell you a philosophy. Yes there are characters and even mild plot points but ultimately the author is more interested in you understanding the meaning behind the characters and his belief of the freedom contained in 'madness'.

It's an interesting book, but I did find myself wanting it to be more plot driven. The writing however, is beautiful, probably some of the best prose I've ever read, often feeling like a poem or the retelling of some dream. Everything flows. Yet at the same time, I'm not sure I can really recommend it to anyone as it is not a traditional story, and certainly wasn't what I was expecting. It is a short read however, and it does make you think (no matter how preachy the author is about the way he thinks his readers should see the world).
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on 1 July 1999
I read this book in Spanish. I am not found of "The Alchemist"(everybody loves this book, but for me it was just a fairy tale), but I decided to give a second try to Paulo Coelho. Veronika is much more real, without this spiritual non-sense, showing to all of us that we are not made in an assembly line, but as a unique spark of God.
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on 18 January 2000
As it changed mine. This book is a miracle. Coelho speaks about life and death, about love and hate, about madness and sanity ... and I felt like he was talking about me, as if he knew what is in my mind and in my soul. Maybe it is a great book or maybe I was just ready to hear his words and be influenced by them. I don't really know, and it doesn't matter. This book came to me at a crossroad in my life and changed the direction I took. I really believe it changed my future, and I am deeply grateful to Mr.Coelho. I hope some day he will visit my country and I will be able to thank him in person.
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on 30 January 2002
Absolutely inspirational. Veronika has spent her life shielding herself from anything that might hurt her, but because she's never felt anything extreme she feels her life is dull and uninteresting. Makes you realise that you have to go through the depths to reach the highs, and that's what makes life exciting and interesting.
I read this after a fairly painful break-up and it helped me realise that even though what I was going through was hard, I'd at least never have a 'what if' feeling about that particular person, and that I'll look back on these experiences in future and be glad I've lived life to the full.
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Beautifully written and unconventional, despite it's rather gloomy sounding title, 'Veronika Decides to Die', is a truly upbeat and life affirming book. It manages to be deep and philosophical without being dull, taking on serious topics about the nature of humanity whilst remaining completely readable and grounded in everyday experiences which we can all relate to.

Coelho writes economically, focussing strongly on just a few characters and doing justice to each. It is refreshingly short, with no words going to waste. Coelho knows what he wants to say and how to say it without feeling the need to 'pad out' his book with unneccessary subplots. It's an attribute some other writers could do with paying attention to.

Anyone who has experienced mental illness will relate to many of the themes in the book, but even those who haven't are sure to find themselves nodding in agreement with the insightful comments about human nature in general. It is worth noting, however, that none of the 'mad' people in the story seem to suffer from severe forms of depression/schizophrenia and that some people with experience of the true horror of these illnesses may find the 'cure' for mental patients described in the book rather trite.

That aside, it is an uplifting tale and one that is highly readable. Like all Coelho's books, it makes you think about who you are and examine your own life in more detail than normal. I expect there will be some who dislike it - all books of this nature can cause strong feelings, which may not all be positive. But I found it deeply moving and I would recommend it to anyone.
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on 6 September 2014
A loaded, layered story that has the power to bring peace to your soul; ironically, it's sure to be deemed shocking by many institutionalised members of society.

Freud's 'Theory of Sex' meets narrative; it delves deep into the human psyche and questions social 'norms'. A provocative piece of art whose multi-dimensional prose will move each reader subjectively. The themes may be uncomfortable for some but nonetheless poignantly real and refreshingly different.

Superficially it's simple; its strengths are not the plot, more the layering beneath. Don't expect the blatant twists you'd find in a standard novel; this isn't one. Coelho has skilfully weaved a plethora of treats into the book for the reader to discover, should they be open to them. It's a highly metaphorical tale that works its magic both retrospectively and momentarily. The characters are well realised and very, very human.

The writing style is quirky yet sincere. The keen translation seems to capture nuances very well. To note, the (2000 ed.) paperback has a pleasing size and feel.

This book is for everyone; whether they fully appreciate it will depend on where they're at. A recommended read at least once in your lifetime. Give it a shot, welcome its calming affect and be prepared to read it again and again!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 29 March 2013
Very good. Really good idea - suicidal girl attempts it, fails then finds out she's ruined her heart with the overdose and will die within the week. What effect will this have on her? And the other inmates of the asylum she's been placed in?

I liked the stories of the other inmates and how Veronika's situation affected her. I guessed the twist early on but it didn't detract at all from my enjoyment of the story. Preferred The Alchemist but really liked this too.
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on 28 November 2012
I must start by saying I love Paulo Coelho's writing - but I hope that doesn't make me biased, I may come across one of his books that I don't like at some point. This book is amazing. It is inspirational, thought provoking, at times a little uncomfortable and it is beautifully written. I was there in the rooms of Vilette, in the gardens, right along side the protagonist, Veronika and the other characters; Eduard, Mari and Zedka. I wondered about the musings of Dr Igor and I admit I felt a little churning in my stomach towards the climax of the story.

I have recently been referred for CBT due to anxiety problems, and I have been reading anything that will make me view life differently and appreciate it and help me change my way of thinking and I definitely found this book one of the most inspiring I have come across. There are emotional moments and the subject of suicide did make me feel a little antsy, but I carried on with it and I am glad I did. It's only a short book, I read it in three sittings, but it really did have a profound effect on me and I can't imagine why anyone with an open mind and some sort of faith in life would give this book a bad review!
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This book by Paulo Coelho inspired the film of the same name starring "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" actress Sarah Michelle Gellar. (Link: Veronika Decides to Die (DVD) Veronica Paulo Coelho).

The issues addressed by this challenging story include sanity, madness, and what a thin dividing line sometimes exists between them, and how the need to conform can make people follow rules as irrational as any which might be imagined in the fantasies of someone society deems insane.

Veronica is a girl with many blessings who appears to have many good reasons to go on living. But instead she decides to attempt suicide.

Veronica wakes in a special and unusual clinic, where she is told that the overdose she took has done catastrophic damage to her body. Her suicide attempt did not exactly fail: it is simply requiring more time to take effect than she had envisaged.

Living each day that is left to her and trying to get as much as possible from it, Veronica realises that she no longer wants to die after all - but is it too late for her wishes to matter?

A marmite book which some people like and other people hate.
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Veronika is a young Slovenian woman, attempting suicide. She's not ill or depressed; only, she's realised her life is unremittingly the same every day, and she's going to get old and go downhill. Also, she's powerless to do anything about the bad things going on in the world. Of course, her attempt is unsuccessful and she finds herself in a psychiatric hospital...
In the hospital we encounter various other characters, notably schizophrenic Edward, 'The Fraternity', a group who are cured but don't want to leave as they can behave how they want if they're deemed 'mad'. And Dr Igor, who is pursuing a theory on bitterness (or 'Vitriol'), which seems to infect most people...
I so disliked this book: it's probably more of a *1.5. I realise that the whole plot and characters are meant to illustrate Coelho's thoughts rather than being believable real-life persons. But the thoughts and ideas are very facile, making me think this is aimed at a teen audience. Coelho includes an implausible sex scene to spice it all up.
How the author became so famous is beyond me!
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