mucilofamucil (mucilofamucil) wrote in shoresofavalon,

Review of the Celestine Prophesy

Review of the Celestine Prophesy by James Redfield

In the rain forests of Peru, an ancient manuscript has been discovered. Within its pages are nine key insights into life itself - insights each human being is predicted to grasp sequentially, one insight then another, as we move toward a completely spiritual culture on Earth. - from the cover

Well, I was handed the Celestine Prophesy by someone after we discussed the up-coming Peaceful Warrior movie. I expressed interest in reading Millman's work, but I don't have a copy of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior book yet. So, I chewed through this supposedly similar work.

I enjoyed this book for its merits though I am heavily critical of the author.

I'll start with what I liked.

The concept was awesome; the whole spiritual revolution idea has been played out, but this was a well done especially when considering the tie to the Mayans. In this sense, I saw a little bit of Stranger in a Strange Land in the Celestine Prophesy. The adventure of the story was very well done, as I can see an action video-game being well made from the plot of this book. The concepts in this book are appealing because they are very hedonistic (explicitly stated as hedonism in the story) and spirituality is given substantial, scientific reasoning. I really loved the author's perception of how children should be treated - it works right into my growing beliefs about TCS ( and Mutual Adoption Clubs.

The Celestine Prophesy has some negative traits, unfortunately.

It is a companion story that is incredibly (and not at all subtly) didactic. Didactic companion novels usually have that intellectual pull to them, but are horrible literary devices that make a story sound like a lecture. Stranger in a Strange Land did this as Heinlein's teachings were manifested in Jubal and Mike. Island did this as Huxley's teachings were manifested in the Palanese. These were both still great books, though, and I think the Redfield also pulls off this unsavory tactic rather well.

Redfield takes a big risk in using coincidence as a literary device. The plot relies on the meaningfulness of coincidence, so the use of coincidence to drive the plot can almost be forgiven. Unfortunately, this device is used so often (literally to introduce EVERY new character and Insight) that I found myself loudly thinking deus ex machina! every other page. You'll have to judge how annoying this is yourself, as I'm sure some people wouldn't be as irritated as I was at this. Dreams tend to drive the story, too, which I found to be conceited and a cheap tactic.

Every character in the book speaks the same and uses the same line of reasoning. I think Redfield is unaware that all of his characters are in the same level of morality as put forth by Kohlberg. He could have added some real depth to his characters if they weren't made to be static. The characters even had the same backgrounds with different variations on the theme. I found it hard to distinguish between secondary characters, but it doesn't matter because they are essentially the same person in different locations and confusing them with each other does not detract from the story. Overall, characterization is weak as hell in the Celestine Prophesy.

Briefly, I'll note that the anthropocentrism in this novel did not sit well with me, but probably won't bother the average reader.

As a hard-core lover of Strunk and White, I nearly gagged on Redfield's style. WAAAAAY too many "to be" verbs to garner interest. Colorful language doesn't flow from Redfield, but rather comes out in short, awkward bursts. The descriptions of the settings were third grade imitations of Kerouac; Redfield cannot express beauty as easily as he claims to perceive it. The whole book should have been cleaned up by an editor that knows how to get rid of passive sentences.

I have two gripes about the Celestine Prophesy that I cannot get over. How does Redfield think hydrogen is the most basic substrate of the universe?! His description of the formation of the universe makes him sound like an absolute idiot. But my biggest gripe... WHAT ABOUT THE INTERNET AND COMPUTERS?! How do dozens of brilliant people (characters) conclude that the best way to preserve important information is making paper copies of the information? Have these people never heard of e-mail and the "copy and paste" function? This consideration makes the entire book look like a silly, poorly-thought-out diatribe.

Would anyone recommend the 10th Insight by Redfield? I would recommend Huxley's Island to anyone that enjoyed the Celestine Prophesy and to anyone that enjoys a good book concerning pantheist/polyamorist society.
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