Title: Life of Pi
Author: Yann Martel
Published: May 2003 by Mariner Books
My Rating: 2 stars
Tags: Fiction | Religion | Survival
Includes: Violence, Disturbing Scenes
First Lines: My suffering left me sad and gloomy. Academic study and the steady, mindful practice of religion slowly brought me back to life.
Piscine Molitor Patel aka Pi, is the son of a zookeeper. His family moves from India to North America via a Japanese cargo ship... that sinks. Pi is the only human survivor, and manages to escape the sinking ship on a lifeboat, with a few other animals on board: an injured zebra, orangutan, hyena, and Bengal tiger. After the tiger, Richard Parker, kills all of the other animals, it's just him and Pi on the lifeboat for 227 days until their rescue. They have a memorable experience together, and with Pi's elaborate knowledge of animal behavior, are able to survive and tell their story. But will anyone believe it?
I had high expectations for this particular book and had been dying to read it. The intense summary really got me hooked and I had read an endless number of awesome reviews for it on Amazon. However, I was very disappointed. The book is split into three parts: before, during, and after Pi's survival at sea. And I have to say: the first 93 pages of the book (the entire Part 1) droned on and on. I was falling asleep, daydreaming...it just couldn't hold my attention. Here I was, expecting a great survival story and all it was was religion! Pi has 3 religions, which I find ridiculous, especially since they are all completely different. He obviously doesn't understand correctly, but the author makes it sound like a great thing.
I think the actual idea for the book was fantastic and really creative. Just a boy and a 450-pound Bengal tiger living together on a lifeboat for almost a year at sea? I enjoyed reading about all of the encounters that happened to them, but still something kept me from really digging into this book. After much thought, I realized it was the author's writing style. He wrote the story filled to the brim with facts and information about animals and botany. Even though they were interesting, it made it feel like I was just reading a textbook at times. He obviously did a fair amount of research which I give credit to him for. But there wasn't emotion in the book or any of Pi's deep feelings included in the writing.
It was also interesting seeing how Pi's survival instincts kicked in and how he transformed throughout the story. At first, he's in denial of what happened to him, then he feels depressed, then hopeful, etc.
From page 113
I was certain I wasn't alone. We would be rescued soon. A ship would appear on the horizon. I would climb aboard and be greeted by my family. I only had to ensure my survival for the next few hours until this rescue ship came.
There was a lot of controversy I noticed while reading reviews for this book, about the ending. I won't spoil it, but let's just say that it was not expected. I actually liked the ending and the sort of philosophical message that was sneakily implied. But overall, after finally finishing this book, it seriously felt like a burden was lifted off my shoulders. I don't even know why - but I just found the writing so bland and boring! Give it a try, if you want. I'd recommend it to older and mature people, particularly adults, who would most likely enjoy it more.