The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Recommended For: Ages 13 to Adult
Rating: PG (for scary situations and intense images)
An opera house in Paris is haunted by a mysterious and reportedly deformed "Opera Ghost". The new owners of the Opera choose not to believe the rumors, and in this, they make a grave mistake. For the Opera Ghost demands monthly payment and his other demands met...or grave trouble will ensue.
Meanwhile, chorus girl Christine Daae is getting singing lessons in her dressing room from the "Angel of Music" her father promised to send to her when he died. However, when old childhood friend and theater patron the Vicomte Raoul de Changy shows up and Christine pretends not to know him, he suspects something more behind the sinister Angel of Music.
No one suspects the truth behind the two personages, and the secret is one that could get many people killed. And their lives all hinge on the direction of the love of Miss Christine Daae.
I decided I don't really care if Morgan's already done a review of the book, if I can take a chance to rave about The Phantom of the Opera, I will.
I mean, wow. I had read the first quarter of the book and it wasn't really picking up, it wasn't really grabbing my interest, and then one day in the last week of Camp NaNoWriMo, I was scrolling through my Kindle carousel and my finger accidentally hit The Phantom of the Opera and it opened up. Instead of being a good author and putting the kindle down so I could catch up on my word count, I read the rest of the book that afternoon. And as a plus, I still caught up on my word count. So, all in all, I think it was a very good choice to make.
This is an old book, originally written in French. Now, I don't really know what it is the French have with deformed men, but...at least I can say The Phantom of the Opera was clean, unlike most French things I've seen or heard about. For an old book, it's written very well. It's written as if it actually happened and the author did research and talked with some people to find out about and write down the story. This kind of writing detracted from the character development and majorly detracted from the climax, but over all, it was tastefully written with no boring over-descriptions.
The setting is pretty simple: a 19th century opera house in France. Not that I know anything about 19th century French opera houses, but I do (sort of) know old-ish theaters, and from my knowledge of them, it seemed pretty accurate. I hear the opera house the story was set in is actually real, too, so the author could have gone to the actual location for research. And I would sincerely hope the book was historically accurate since it was written in the author's own time period and I don't believe the author was a time traveler.
Well...I'm not really sure how to describe it. I gave my best effort in the description at the beginning of the post that I wrote myself since none of the descriptions I saw were very good ones. I...really liked it, but I don't know much to say about it other than I couldn't put it down. Because I couldn't (other than the time I made myself so I could write) and I was severely disappointed when I was nearing the end and it was time for dinner. But I managed to finish it soon enough. I mean, the plot was really good! I just don't seem to have the words to describe it. It left me speechless, I guess.
Character Development: 4/5
I've heard from multiple places that Raoul is a wimp in the book. Well, I am here to dispel these rumors! *cue epic superhero entrance* The main impression I got from Raoul was that he was confused and had no idea what was going on. And people that don't have a clue what's going on can't do much of anything no matter how much they want to, and Raoul obviously wanted to from love of Christine. Yes, he lost it in the torture chamber, but that doesn't make him a coward. I have several characters of my own who are very brave yet probably would have lost it in there as well. And from the Persian's narrative, you could tell he was struggling to keep his hold on reality as well as they were in there longer and longer. The only reason he didn't was that he knew how the torture chamber worked and he knew the Phantom and he had seen many people in the torture chamber before. And even he would have lost it if they had been in there much longer. There, now I'm done defending Raoul...I really wish the characters would have been better developed. But, considering the style it was written in (see above), they really couldn't be developed as much as I would have liked. But one of the good things about this was that pretty much all the characters got the same amount of development, except the Phantom, who got considerably more, and Christine, who seemed to get less. I really liked Raoul all the same, and the Persian was interesting (Raoul never could have done it without him). Christine seemed the same as in the play and movie adaptations I've seen, and the Phantom...I just don't know what to think of him.
In other words, if you've seen one of the movie adaptations and/or one of the performances on stage, read the book. It'll make a whole lot more sense, and you'll certainly enjoy it, even if you didn't like the songs in the play, because the book doesn't have the songs. And if you haven't watched it in any way, shape, or form, read the book anyways. This is one classic you don't want to miss!