Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coehlo - Book Review

Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coehlo – Book Review


About the Book

Written by: Paulo Coelho
Genre: Novel, Psychological Fiction
Originally Published: 1998
No. of Chapters:  26
No. of Pages: 240
Price: Nepali Rupees 560

Veronica decides to die is a 1998 Novel by the Brazilian author, Paulo Coelho who is widely known for the use of human psychology in his books and how they always reflect some parts of the dark conscience of a human in one way or another. The book is about the psychological journey of a 24-year-old girl Veronika who got fed up with life and it’s mundanity and one day decides to kill herself. Based on some of his personal experiences in quite a few mental institutions, he explores the darkness within the minds of those who try to kill themselves exploring questions like “why do they do it? What do they gain by killing themselves if it means to end their lives? Do they think of the consequences and the effect they will have after they die?” Along with the major question that still exists in the real world and always has been since the dawn of human intellect and suicide “What can we do to prevent suicides” and tries to answer then through the view of both the doctors involved with Veronika as well as Veronika herself.

Plot Summary

The book begins with the lines “On November 11, 1997, Veronika decided that the moment to kill herself had—at last!—arrived.
She carefully cleaned the room that she rented in a convent, turned off the heat, brushed her teeth, and lay down.” With these lines, it is made clear that our Main character Veronika wants to die but the reason for her wanting to die is not something that is common but rather that she is frustrated at people not knowing where her hometown Slovenia is. She has all the money and “friends” she could need and her life is seemingly perfect. Despite her perfect life, she decides to die just for the sole reason of having no drive to live so she overdoses on sleeping pills and tries to die. The keyword here being “tried” as she wakes up several hours later in an asylum called “Villette”

Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coehlo - Book Review

This is where our story begins in earnest as there she meets Dr. Igor who is somewhat crooked and a bit mad of a doctor himself. There he tells her that she has developed heart condition as a result of her overdose and has one week of life left and hence admits her to the hospital for observation.

During her stay in Villette, she meets quite a few patients, some of them have more impact on her than others. One of them is a girl named Zedka. Zedka is a classical case of “Clinical Depression” and “delusion” but she has a perfectly fine life with kids and husband but somehow thinks that an older lover is looking after her.

The second one is Mari who is a classic case of “General Anxiety Disorder” which has heightened to the extreme causing “paranoia” as well to some extent. She doesn’t trust anyone and lies quite a lot. She is cured of her anxiety but her paranoia still remains.

And the last one who impacts Veronika the most is Edward whom she falls in love with. He was a painter, an artist by choice but also someone whose dreams had been oppressed and due to which had developed schizophrenia. If analyzed properly, it was probably schizo-affective Disorder as he had logic and reasons but was seeing hallucinations which can also be linked to his suppression of dreams.

Through her interactions with these peoples, she realizes that since she has so little left to live anyways, she can be and do anything and anyone she wants to without any consequences, or at least that’s what she thinks at the first but slowly develops a drive to live for.

Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coehlo - Book Review

She was not the only one affected in a good way though as, through her interactions with the other patients, all of them gain a new perspective in life and find someone or something to hold onto by the end of the book.

Now the thing about this whole Veronika’s time limit is that it was never true in the first place and all this was Dr. Igor trying out a psychological experiment on Veronica trying to find out the power of shock value and persuasion. He wanted to find out if someone can be persuaded to live by telling them that they have limited time and that they will die soon.

Lessons Learned from the Book

Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coehlo - Book Review
  1. As the main theme of the book is that every life is worth it, the entirety of the book teaches the reader that regardless of how dark the times maybe, there is always hope for a better tomorrow through the journey of Veronika.
  2. Also included in her journey is the lesson that you don’t realize how little the opinions of others matter once you know the endgame but also that there is no fixed endgame and it can always be changed.
  3. Other side lessons that we can learn from this book is how each disorder mentioned in the book actually is.
  4. Unlike most other books, this book’s accuracy on the internal feelings of those who have these disorders (Clinical Depression, Paranoia, general Anxiety Disorder, Delusion, and schizophrenia) is somehow almost accurate to the core.
  5. The people suffering from mental disorders know that it is there and for the most part want their disorder to end as well but are just helpless and caged by their own mind.
  6. Also, a bright side to this is that the book shows that a small amount of time with the right person can encourage the people who are in the deepest of the darkness.

Best Part of the Book

Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coehlo - Book Review
  1. The best part of the book starts when Veronica starts to interact with the other patients and falls in love with Edward. The interactions with the patients give us a good backstory of the characters which are beyond the main character and in a detailed as well as to not miss or misinterpret any words from them.
  2. Along with this, the internal conflicts as shown in the book are real ones and the progression of the characters is interesting, to say the least as well as well-paced.

Worst Part of the Book

Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coehlo - Book Review
  1. There are not many parts that can be said to be the worst besides the fact the whole tone of the book is on a greyscale.
  2. The tone is completely different from a much darker environment set within the book so this may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
  3. Along with this, there is one character that has not been explored as much as he should have and that was Dr. Igor which kind of makes the reason for him wanting to start this experiment a bit vague although some of it is mentioned.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I do recommend this book personally. As mentioned before due to the dark and grainy tone of the book, this is not everyone’s cup of tea so if you are fine with exploring dark emotions and seeing what mental disorder feels like for the ones suffering, this book is among the best out there. There are some places where you will be confused as to what is happening so some concentration is advised. Along with this, the book is filled with suspense as well and this will keep you on the edge. I recommend reading this book when you have a few days to spare for this book as there are many parts where the chapter ends with suspense.