Thursday, October 25, 2007

Book Review: Lost Horizon by James Hilton

Most people will have heard the phrases "Lost Horizon" and "Shangri-La" without perhaps knowing where they came from: well, this is the book that invented both terms. Four westerners find themselves on a highjacked airplane, flying over the Himalayas which consequently crash lands amongst snow-capped mountains somewhere in Tibet. They are taken to the mysterious and inaccessible lamasery of Shagri-La where they are greeted with a peaceful hospitality. It seems that the four "guests" have found a paradise away from the harsh reality of life in the outside world. However, it soon becomes apparent that they are prisoners more than guests and there are difficult choices to be made.

Lost Horizon is the story of utopia, long-life, peace and complete hapiness and the choices man makes when faced with these. This book is beautifully written, using a slow, peaceful style which is in keeping with the picture it attempts to paint and has become a modern classic. The author also demonstrates the differences in eastern and western attitudes in the clashes between the serene lama, Chang, and the impetuous Mallinson. As the characters learn more about Shangri-La they are more and more astonished at what they find and this air of mystery compels the reader to find out more.

This story is a wonderful tale of a mysterious world which leaves many aspects of Shangri-La shrouded in mystery, and in a way this is one of the beauties of this book - it leaves the reader wanting more. It is obviously a book about choices but it is also a nice story which makes an enjoyable and easy read. Some of the characters are not developed as well as the reader may wish and although I was entranced by the idea of this isolated world I felt the ending something of a disappointment which feels like it was written in a hurry. However, it may have been the intention of the author to create an ending like this to make the reader think about the choice they may have made.

I found this novel an excellent quick read and would recommend it to all readers from about the age of eleven upwards. Although the ending is perhaps a little weak, the story is very enjoyable and the characters are quite mysterious - it may also make the reader think a little about their own life.

Score: 8.5/10

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