February 7, 2009

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

BOOK #: 10
CHALLENGES: Book Awards (Man Booker Prize), New Authors, Book Buddy Blogger Challenge, A to Z Challenge

Life of Pi was so fascinating that I don't even know if I can accurately describe it.

Okay, the story is of Pi Patel, the God-loving son of a zookeeper who is traveling from India to Canada with his family on a cargo ship with the animals they will be selling in North America. However, the ship sinks and Pi finds himself the sole survivor- that is, except for the animals. Pi finds himself on a lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon, all that is left is the tiger, named Richard Parker, Pi, and the Pacific Ocean.

This novel is definitely a page-turner. The story is fanciful, gripping, and, at times, funny. I found myself taking a few quotes from the book that I wanted to hold to. I noticed Pi was much like myself in that he found that God can be reached from more than one pathway, which I liked. I also liked that the story was possible, if not plausible. Can a tiger really not attack a boy for so long a time? I kept thinking while reading that somewhere the author would give a scenario so implausible that I would laugh at its absurdity. However, it did not happen. The situations somehow all made sense. And it is true that a tiger will not attack just to be attacking. It has to have a reason- it is provoked, it is scared, it needs food.

I enjoyed reading about how he used the materials he had to survive for so long. I fear I would not have the first clue how to survive for so long. Would I have been clever enough to think of shielding myself from the sun with turtle shells? Would I have been able to tie a knot well enough to construct a raft? Would I have found the strength to move and work when I had eaten nothing and had little water? I get lightheaded and weak when I haven't eaten anything for 4-5 hours!

I learned a lot more about the various aspects of an animal than I ever wanted to. Especially a turtle. I also learned a lot about how to train an animal. I never thought about the hows of it much beyond my own pets. Did you ever notice that about lions at the circus? I know I didn't until he mentioned it and then I was like, "Oh, yeah, that is how it works. Huh."

This book was particularly interesting for me to read right after the death of my father. He talks in one part about the difficulties of losing his brother, the different difficulties of losing his father, and the still different difficulties of losing his mother. About a father he says, "To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches." And that is much of what I feel losing my father. And I feel so grateful because I still have the rest of my family with me. I only lost my father. I can't wrap my mind around the grief that surrounds someone who loses everyone at once. And the guilt they must feel being the survivor. I knew it was horrible before, but now I can imagine the pain even more.

This book was a very fascinating read. I just can't say enough about the author's talent. Once the story led into Pi on the boat, the writing was just fantastic. I liked his use of metaphors and the colorful adjectives he used were spot on. I also loved that the book had 100 chapters! Didn't you? (For those who haven't read it, you'll see why this is curious in the least.)

I hope I managed to do the book justice with this review. I feel at a loss for the right words. I agree with everyone else's reviews that the book is just terrific. I don't know if it is a story that will make you believe in God, but it is definitely a story that will make you believe in novels.

Other Reviews of Life of Pi:


  1. I've heard people say the ending ruined it for them, and other say the end made the book for them. Your review has definitely encouraged me to pick it up!

  2. I've thought about reading this almost since it came out. I know I'll get to it eventually, but probably not this year. Very nice review. I always like to read a personal touch.

  3. Fantastic review, Rebecca! I'm so glad you loved the book too! I thought it was amazing too. There were so many good quotes in the book and depth of emotions. The quote about losing his father was beautiful. Isn't it great when an author hits to our heart with a quote in a book? I love that...It's pure poetry. Pi really takes us on his adventure with him and I think the book speaks to the inner strength we have when adversity comes. Yhanks for a great review!
    Have a Super Weekend!

  4. Ooops, THANKS for a great review :)

  5. Thanks for the compliments, friends! :)
    And Trisha, I am glad I inspired a new book for your collection, just as you have done for me! That makes me smile. :)

  6. Great review, it really makes me want to read the book. Sounds like it must have been a sad read for you in some ways, so soon after the loss of your dad.

  7. I read it in English first. This was a mistake because when I then tried to read it in french a few years later it was spoiled for me. The translation was excellent of course but the story didn't have the same zing, probably because I already enjoyed it so much in the first round!

    Kathleen Molloy, author - Dining with Death

  8. It seems readers are quite passionate about this book, whether their feelings are positive or negative. I hope to read it soon. Thanks for your review.

  9. Ali- Yes, it was sad in parts, but in a way it also helped.

    Kathleen- I am sure that it was just like reading any good book the second time- it is still great, but it doesn't have that same punch because you already know how it ends. I am sure I will re-read it at some point myself.

    Charley- It does seem people are very passionate about it. And when you read it and you reach the end you will see why. I happened to think the end was simply clever, but some people see it differently. I hope you enjoy it when you do get a chance to read it.

  10. Hi, i just read these comments and I'd thought I'd just say (without ruining it) I think that the ending was incredibly well executed. Martel's theme of faith is skilfully carried on to the very end, when he tests the reader's faith and challenges our power of belief. In my opinion it was most amazing achievement in the whole of the book of the book.

    Hope that made sense to you, and didn't ruin it for anyone!
    Read this book, it's amazing.

  11. Woops, sorry about the numerous typos, i'm very tired.

  12. Lunatic_Pandora- You said it very well. I agree completely. And I don't think it gives it all away. There is much to be discovered in this book. Thank you for coming by and for commenting! :)

  13. I also read and LOVED this book. I hate to give anything away but (since it's been awhile since you posted this review maybe not too many people will see my comment now) there's always something I want to ask people who have also read this so I will preface my question with SPOILER ALERT! Do you think that maybe the tiger was never really there? I agree with you that everything that happens in the boat with the tiger seems completely believable but once I got to the end it, I felt I had been reading about Pi's struggles to cope with the loss of everyone else and was only able to do that by separating the "wild" side of himself, like someone with a dissociative disorder would do. Ideas?

  14. Tonya-

    Interesting take on the ending. I never thought of that. Perhaps you are right. I haven't decided what really happened to Pi. I think I liked the version with the animals so much that I have not entirely let go of that possibility. But you bring up a very interesting point.

  15. I just finished this book, came back to your review through Goodreads, and realized I left a comment back in February. I loved it, and I thought the ending was great.


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