Life of Pi
Author: Yann Martel
Genre: YA-ish (old man telling of his adventure at 16 years old)
Coffee Beans: 4/5
Content Rating: PG-13 (there’s some extreme, graphic violence)
Favorite Line: “The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart.” (pg 71, printed copy)
Cover Love: Simplisticly awesome
Instalove Factor: None present.
Personal Recommendation: Read it, but it’s an investment of time and brain cells. But worth it.
Life of Pi is a very unique book written in so many layers about
religion, survival, right and wrong and at a very collegiate level. The
writing is fantastic (almost hypnotic at times), the details both
captivating and repulsive, and the overall story so imaginative, I can’t
help but wonder, What was the point?
Let me explain.
book is a lot like the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks, but on a boat
instead of an island and with a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker
instead of a volleyball named Wilson.
But there wasn’t any real
storyline or significant plot in the traditional sense. This boy is lost
out at sea for 227 days before he’s found (and you know he survives
because this book is an interview, you find that out in the beginning).
The first quarter of the book is about his childhood growing up, how he
got his nickname Pi, his schooling, and what it was like to grow up
living in a zoo (his father was the head man at the Pondicherry Zoo in
India). While it was fascinating to learn the ins and outs of zoos and
the different animals, the narrative was almost written like a
nonfiction, collegiate fashion that somewhat bored me and I ended up
skimming a little.
He also goes into theology. Pi, as a young boy
(he’s sixteen through most of this), constantly says that he just wants
to love God. As a result, he starts to follow not one religion, but
three. Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam. Needless to say, this was a
bit of an ordeal for his agnostic parents and the religious leaders of
the different houses of worship he was attending when they all found
out, but you couldn’t help but want to encourage young Pi in his journey
of seeking God. After all, he just wanted to love God, so why did he
have to pick only one religion to do so. While that vein of his life
story was interesting, going into the dry, theological details of each
religion was not, so I skimmed some of this, at times, as well.
next section was the majority of the book, and consisted of his story
being stuck out at sea. This was the most interesting part of the book,
obviously. And while it didn’t have any on the edge of your seat
action/peril/look out! moments, it was still very interesting. Martel
has a subtle way of telling the details of a story that seep into every
pore of your body. As Pi was baking from the sun and his skin getting
tortured by the salt spray, I could have sworn my skin tightened with
dehydration. I really could taste his victory of food and fresh water
when he found it, and was scared for him being exposed in the wild
Pacific ocean. This, to me, was the best part of the book, but I
couldn’t help but wish for more of a story arc.
The last section
of the book (about twenty pages or so) takes place when his ordeal ends.
Even though this was the smallest section, I almost liked this the
most. I got more personality from Pi, and this was where the most
thought provoking element of the book comes from. You are presented with
a question, and given the background of the book, and everything we
learn about Pi, it’s not the question I thought it was going to be when I
started reading the book. As a reader, you are given two very plausible
outcomes or paths to choose that come from the question. It’s almost
heart wrenching, the different possibilities. One is so real, and so
tragic, that you don’t want to pick that answer, you’re more willing to
pick the more fantastical option, however absurd it may be.
But in the end, the answer I chose to believe, I hope that is the truth. Because it is a sad and beautiful possibility.
would love to get a discussion group together to talk about this book
to see what everyone’s thoughts were, how they reacted to the storyline,
which answer they believe to be correct and why, and just to hear their
overall impressions. I also am planning on going to see the movie. I
heard it was fantastic and very beautifully filmed and followed the book
In the end, I would recommend this book. It’s not an
easy read, nor is it a light read. And you may end up like me at the
end, wondering what the whole point was, while still understanding what
the whole point was. But all-in-all, it was worth my time.
Happy reading, my friends!