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Life of Pi

A book by Yann Martel

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  • Feb 2, 2003
  • by
Because of my job schedule these days, I mostly get to read just prior to falling asleep, after I get home at 2am. This usually means I read my books in 20 minute chunks, and it takes awhile!! LIFE OF PI was consumed in four nights of sleeplessness. It is a fascinating book with an absolutely outstanding, sympathetic central character. The setup is intruiquing: Youth is shipwrecked and set adrift on a lifeboat with only a tiger for companionship. I imagined a touching story of the bond growing between Pi and the tiger (named Richard Parker).

This is NOT the case at all...and yet the direction the book takes in much more interesting. First, the book takes its time letting us get to know the character, who lives in India and is the son of a zookeeper. He is very religious, choosing to follow Christianity, Islam and Hindu all at the same time. He also has a name that his classmates make fun of...Piscene. He demands that it be shortened to Pi.

Anyway, when he is cast adrift, we're already totally in this kid's spell, and his ordeal is unbelievably gripping. How he evaluates the tools he has at hand, how he deals with this Tiger on his boat...it's all great. Is the tiger tame, you might ask? Well, let's just say that the voyage starts out with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and a tiger. Within days, we're only dealing with a Tiger. You be the judge!

His journey is very long, and it begins to get a bit weird towards the end, and we begin to doubt his sanity or perceptions or something. I have to admit the ending was a bit of a let down. I guess I expected something more conventional and less up-in-the-air. But the ending is fair, in its way, you just have to be willing to adjust your frame of reference to the book. Even with a modest let down at the end, it is still one of the best books I've read in YEARS. And I read a lot! You've never read anything like it. It's also a fast read, and I think would be great for youth (say 14 and above) to read. Should be a classic.

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More Life of Pi reviews
Quick Tip by . October 01, 2010
I liked it. I never worked out what I thought had happened, but I still liked it. One of the few "inconclusive" novels that still has me hooked.
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
I tried three times and was never able to make it through this. I've heard the end is good and the beginning was exciting, but the middle is a long stretch.
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
love this book, entertaining with an interesting ending.
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
great story!!
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
In some ways, a challenging read due to length and some of the specifics of the journey. Overall, however, an amazing journey to take. At turns practical and philosophical, it's a book that will hold you to the end.
Quick Tip by . June 28, 2010
It starts out slow but the writing is charming and the story is interesting.
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
A great adventure!
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
loved it
Quick Tip by . June 17, 2010
loved this book!
Quick Tip by . June 15, 2010
Started out interesting but quickly became boring.
About the reviewer

Ranked #146
I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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About this book


Yann Martel's imaginative and unforgettableLife of Piis a magical reading experience, an endless blue expanse of storytelling about adventure, survival, and ultimately, faith. The precocious son of a zookeeper, 16-year-old Pi Patel is raised in Pondicherry, India, where he tries on various faiths for size, attracting "religions the way a dog attracts fleas." Planning a move to Canada, his father packs up the family and their menagerie and they hitch a ride on an enormous freighter. After a harrowing shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean, trapped on a 26-foot lifeboat with a wounded zebra, a spotted hyena, a seasick orangutan, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker ("His head was the size and color of the lifebuoy, with teeth"). It sounds like a colorful setup, but these wild beasts don't burst into song as if co-starring in an anthropomorphized Disney feature. After much gore and infighting, Pi and Richard Parker remain the boat's sole passengers, drifting for 227 days through shark-infested waters while fighting hunger, the elements, and an overactive imagination. In rich, hallucinatory passages, Pi recounts the harrowing journey as the days blur together, elegantly cataloging the endless passage of time and his struggles to survive: "It is pointless to say that this or that night was the worst of my life. I have so many bad nights to choose from that I've made none the champion."

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ISBN-10: 0156027321
ISBN-13: 978-0156027328
Author: Yann Martel
Genre: Literature & Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Mariner Books
Polls with this book
1984 (British first edition)



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