I wasn't a big fan of this book. I had heard many different times from different people about how this books, while short, was extremely symbolic and meaningful. I think I was hyped up too much because I found the story, while interesting, to be rather bland.
The old man Santiago was the pinnacle of the human spirit. Even while old and brittle, he persevered through challenging times and overcame seemly impossible obstacles. I respected this, but I still didn't find the story to be remarkable. I thought that I may have simply missed some symbolism so I did a little research on hidden messages in this book and was surprised by a quote from Ernest Hemmingway himself:
Then there is the other secret. There isn't any symbolysm [sic]. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit. What goes beyond is what you see beyond when you know.
If Mr. Hemmingway said that there was no symbolism then I don't feel bad for not finding any. If you find symbolism it in, then that is great. I believe that is the beauty of books. You can tailor it specifically to your own personality.
I would rate this book 3/5. While interesting and definitely not a waste of time, it wasn't what everyone portrayed it to be. A good book nonetheless.