Book Review

Gaston Leroux’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

the-phantom-of-the-opera-cover1Title: The Phantom of the Opera
Author: Gaston Leroux
Format: Audiobook
Start Date: October 13, 2016
End Date: October 24, 2016
Rating: 2 stars

Poor, unhappy Erik! Shall we pity him? Shall we curse him? He asked only to be “some one,” like everybody else. But his was too ugly! And he had to hide his genius OR USE IT TO PLAY TRICKS WITH, when, with an ordinary face, he would have been one of the most distinguished of mankind! He had a heart that could have held the empire of the world; and, in the end, he had to content himself with a cellar. Ah, yes, we must needs pity the Opera ghost.

I’m sure everyone is familiar with the story of the Phantom of the Opera. The “Opera Ghost” loved an opera singer named Christine Daae, who, under the guise of the “Angel of Music,” trained her in the art of singing. Meanwhile, Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny, a childhood companion of Christine, reenters her life and they fall in love. So Christine must choose between the horror-filled genius with the beautiful voice and the beautiful young man.

I have always loved the musical. I have seen the play twice and the movie multiple times. It is one of my favorite musicals of all time.

the-phantom-of-the-opera-movie-image

I started reading this book when I was younger but gave up within the first few pages because it was so dry.

The story, unlike the play, is told in the perspective of a reporter who had heard of the tragedies surrounding the infamous Opera Ghost. This reporter has found multiple letters and has conducted interviews with several of the involved parties, short of Erik, Christine, and Raoul. However, this narration style made the story very dry. There was not too much action and only speculation about the motivation of the characters.

The characters themselves were also not that interesting. Erik was more complex than the nameless musical version – more haughty and cruel, yet also somewhat purer in his intentions. His hideous deformity made him an outcast in society and deprived him of what he wanted most in the world: a wife to love and who would love him back. He had hoped to find that in Christine. Raoul, on the other hand, was young and handsome. He came from a wealthy family and was used to getting his way more often than not. Every time he was slighted by Christine, or by Erik through Christine (before he knew of Erik’s existence), he acted as a whiny baby. Christine has always been my favorite character of the three. She is young and innocent, yet finds herself as the pawn between these two opposing characters, Raoul and Erik.

Although the plot and characters themselves were complex than their musical counterparts, the style in which this story was told did not hold my interest. I would much rather watch the musical. This is one of the few instances in my life where I must begrudgingly admit that the movie (and theatrical play) surpassed the book.

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