Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I just finished reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel, on loan from Teresa. I now understand why no one I know who has read it has fully reviewed the book. It's an amazing story! Full of life and imagery. Something so full that at the end, I feel I can't explain it. I can't really review it, except to say that it was a great book.

Pi is 16 years old when the ship bound to Canada--carrying his family and the animals from their zoo--sinks. He is the sole survivor, and he survives in the Pacific Ocean for 227 days. His story is one of survival, but most importantly, of resisting the animal instincts that push out morals and faith--that push out humanity itself.

My one regret is that Pi is lost. He equally (and devotedly) practices Christianity (Catholicism), Hinduism, and Islam, and feels there is no problem with that. I kept hoping that he would find true salvation, but he doesn't.

All in all, a wonderful book! So colorful and rich! Read it!


  1. Yay, I am glad you liked it! It is the most intriguing and mysterious book I have read lately. I am convinced that it really happened.

  2. Wow, it even looks colorful from the cover. Of course, you can't always judge a book by its cover, you know. :-)

  3. Teresa: I'd like to think it really happened! It's set up in such a realistic way: interviews with Pi, notes from the author, etc. I tried to find out yesterday about the real Pi, but couldn't find anything news articles or anything. Up until that point, I really thought it was truth! Now I'm a little doubtful, but just like at the end of the story, you're given the option to believe or not. It's a beautiful story, either way!

  4. Hi Lydia,
    My good friend Mindy had a great review of this a while back:

    I haven't read it, but it sounds really fun...


  5. I have to say, I am glad to have our blog relationship out in the open. I've lurked on yours as well because your name keeps coming up in half of my conversations!

    I read Life of Pi earlier this year. My first response when I got to the end was "WHAT THE HECK?" I really wanted to know if Richard Parker was a tiger or not. I definitely like the story of the animals better than the "real" one at the end.

    In all of my English-major expertise, I think that the take-away theme of the book is that you can tell the "truth" without being factually accurate. It's a very relativistic way of looking at things, which I don't agree with, but it made for very compelling reading!

    Has Martel written anything else?

  6. Rachel,
    Thanks for the link to Mindy's review. I appreciated her comments very much. My only dissent is that I enjoyed the conclusion very much. It moves from beautiful imagery, writing that could be poetry, to two Japanese men clinically interviewing Pi for insurance purposes. Their questions, self-centered-ness, and lack of imagination clashes greatly with Pi, as he answers their questions. The pairing at the end is humorous, as well as a good way to pose the question: "What kind of person do you choose to be? The one who questions, or the one who believes?" I thought it rounded the story out very well. But I know you haven't read it, so this might not make much sense, but when you do read it, you'll know my opinion! (for what it's worth!)


  7. Lindsey, I don't know if Martel has written anything else. In the Author's Note, Martel mentions the previous book he wrote, and that it wasn't very good, but I really have no idea.

    Your thoughts about the relativistic approach to truth are good. You're right, you can't get to truth without being accurate. And you're also right, that for the purposes of storytelling, it makes for a very enjoyable read.

    I don't think I have read such a good "story" in a long time. I found on a website that M. Night Shyamalan was considering it for his next film! For once, I'll know the ending! It seems like a great book for him to adapt to screen. Very M. Night Shyamalan-ish. Dreamlike, with an interesting twist.