4 musical stars.
The book is nothing like the musical.
just thought I'd give everyone a heads up in case they're thoroughly in
love with the musical and don't want to read anything that deviates
from it, even though technically the musical deviated from the book. I
read a few reviews where the reviewers were disappointed because the
book was so inherently different. That being said, while I'm a fan of the musical,
I have never been 100% in love with it. In fact, it turns out I prefer the book over the musical.
The book holds a much more complicated relationship with
the reader than the musical does with the viewer. There is more going on in the plot, there are more plots
in general, and it is just over-the-top, gothic horror fun. I am
surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this! It is almost a satire of itself. It is overdone, dramatic and juvenile. Christine is so virginal, Raoul is so heroic (yet gentle), and the Phantom is so creepy (yet pathetic).
struck me the most was that this was a re-telling of the Persephone and
Hades story from Greek mythology -- and it was a solid re-telling that
added more depth to the story, making it more complex. (Of course, it also has traditonal Christian elements as well: Christine (Christ) and The Angel of Music (a common occupation for the Devil/Lucifer). I have seen the
movie adaptations of the musical, I've seen the musical itself on
Broadway, but never have I connected the dots so clearly as when I was
reading it. The lake to the Phantom's house is the lake to the
Underworld. This underworld is where the Phantom (Hades) dwells and he
goes to the upper world to capture the beautiful Christine (Persephone)
to make her his. What impressed me was that there were flowers in the
Phantom's underground chamber. Persephone, in classical Greek mythology, loved three things: sunshine,
laughter and wildflowers.
Although all the
characters themselves felt sympathy for the Phantom, I never once did, and I'm not entirely sure how much Leroux wanted me to. Certainly, the Phantom is a victim of his time, but being a victim does not give one the right to become a villain.
It was hard for me to feel sympathetic for a sociopath, hellbent on getting what he wants, everyone else be damned. I know there are many readers who love the Phantom, but
even in the musical version where he is presented as a much more
sympathetic character, I could never bring myself to like him.
way, this book is a quick read, hilarious and I would recommend it to everyone.
You may love it, hate it or feel ambivalent about it, but I definitely
think it's a book worth reading once in your life.