Book Review: Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi by Yann Martel-Cover


I’m probably one of the last people to read Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, but I’m glad I finally did. Life of Pi has been on my to-read list long before the movie came out, so don’t think I’m reading it just because of the movie. I haven’t seen Ang Lee’s vision of the book yet, but I’ll track it down when Life of Pi comes out on Blu-ray. I’ll be rooting for it at the Oscars on Sunday.

Pi, a teenager, is the lone survivor after the vessel carrying his family and various animals from their former zoo suddenly sinks in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Correction, he’s the lone human survivor on the lifeboat but his faithful companion is a 450 pound Bengal tiger.

Are you dying to know what happens? Of course you are.

The first 50 pages or so set up the story quite nicely. Pi’s father owns a zoo in a small Indian town of Pondicherry. Pi’s father teaches him to respect all the animals in the zoo and Pi grows up learning about their behaviors.  I found all the zoological tidbits a little dense and dry. In fact I almost gave up on the book because I felt that the story wasn’t moving fast enough. However, after Pi becomes stranded on the lifeboat, I realized that Yann Martel was only preparing me for what was to come later in the novel. It was sneaky, but beautifully done.

Also in first 50 pages documents Pi’s spiritual quest. He studies different faiths in his search for God. I didn’t expect the novel to be about faith and religion as I’m not a religious person. However, after finishing the novel, I realized that Life of Pi is not just about God, but about believing that anything is possible as long as you believe it.

That sounds so trite and overused. The story is much deeper than that. Life of Pi shows that we choose the story we wish the world to know. We will never know if Pi’s account is true. Or we may choose not to because it’s too “unbelievable.” The novel is a reminder that your outlook on life colors how you experience it.

Sorry to get so philosophical. I absolutely loved the novel and immediately reached on on Twitter to talk to someone about the book.  If you haven’t read it, I won’t divulge too much of the novel. I can understand why it’s received such critical acclaim and won awards.

One of my reading goals for 2013 was to read more critically acclaimed books. Reading Life of Pi  definitely fit the bill, and I’m glad I read it.

What critically acclaimed book should I read next? Any recommendations?

  1. February 23, 2013
    • February 24, 2013