Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel (CBR III Book #1)

The Life of Pi was a book I went into cold, as I had never heard of it and didn't really get much information about it from my cousin, who bought it for me. A look at the cover only revealed that maybe it had something to do with a boy, a tiger, and a small boat. What?!?!?!

As it turns out, the book is about a boy, a tiger, and a small boat. Okay, there's more to it than that. The Life of Pi begins in India, where we meet a young boy, Piscine Patel. Pi grows up discovering spirituality in Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity and recounts stories about the zoo, which his father owns. When Pi is 16, he and his family (some human, some animal) board a boat to emigrate to Canada. For reasons unknown, the boat sinks and Pi finds himself in a lifeboat with a handful of animals. So begins the survivor's tale....The Life of Pi is mostly about this solitary time for Pi, drifting and figuring out how to stay alive.

I'll admit, I haven't read The Old Man and the Sea or Robinson Crusoe, so I won't compare the Life of Pi to them. But it seems like they're good books to compare it to...but I wouldn't know...because I haven't read them. But I've seen Cast Away starring Tom Hanks and Wilson the Volleyball (strangely, and appropriately, I saw Cast Away by myself at the theater. I know, how sad). So I'll make a comparison to that.

With both Cast Away and The Life of Pi, I was really interested in how Tom and Pi got in and out of their predicaments, but the predicament itself, kind of a downer. I'll admit, there are good bits and insights that kept my interest in The Life of Pi, but I couldn't help checking ahead to see how much longer the life at sea was going to last (it's about two thirds of the book, by the way). The last third of the book really picked up but ended somewhat abruptly, leaving me unsatisfied (thank you, John Malkovich, I can never say that without thinking of you). Anyone?

Overall, a good book, but depressing at times. The author's intent to have me share in Pi's plight on an emotional level was successful I suppose. Of course, because there are animals in the book, for an animal lover like me, there's that extra level of anxiety, "kill the people, not the animals!" I cry out, but only on the inside. Only on the inside.


  1. I think I'm the only person in the world who really hated this book. I can't tell you why, exactly, I hated it, but there was just something about Pi and the journey that rubbed me the wrong way. I don't think it's the book itself that's bad, since it's so beloved by SO many, but clearly I was just not Martel's intended audience. :)

  2. I didn't hate it exactly, but it in no way lived up to all the hype. I kind of like the time at sea and the interaction with the tiger, but all the dull philosophical stuff at the beginning nearly drove me away.

    Good review!

  3. Haha, I have the other extreme view that this is one of my favorite books...EVER. I agree the beginning of the book is extremely slow, but when he is on the safety raft, I found the story mesmerizing. The description of the island was eerie and beautifully haunting. For me, the ending was mind-blowing, tragic and shocking.


  4. I loved it. By far the best book I've ever read. Yann Martel is a great craftsman. I am a hardcore reader and certainly not gullible, but at the end of the book, even I was left wondering whether the entire account was true, :(.

  5. I usually don't read books of this caliber but I was shocked how good this ended up being. I immensely liked the creativity and imaginative of the book and how it presented a Darwin like approach within the storytelling how man (boy in this case) must take on harsh elements, hunger and dangerous animals in order to survive -- all making for a wonderful a castaway story. Very entertaining read that kept me intrigued till the end.