Sunday, May 5, 2013

Book Review: Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

Life of PiLife of Pi by Yann Martel.
Book Summary: Life of Pi is a masterful and utterly original novel that is at once the story of a young castaway who faces immeasurable hardships on the high seas, and a meditation on religion, faith, art and life that is as witty as it is profound. Using the threads of all of our best stories, Yann Martel has woven a glorious spiritual adventure that makes us question what it means to be alive, and to believe.

Growing up in Pondicherry, India, Piscine Molitor Patel - known as Pi - has a rich life. Bookish by nature, young Pi acquires a broad knowledge of not only the great religious texts but of all literature, and has a great curiosity about how the world works. His family runs the local zoo, and he spends many of his days among goats, hippos, swans, and bears, developing his own theories about the nature of animals and how human nature conforms to it. Pi’s family life is quite happy, even though his brother picks on him and his parents aren’t quite sure how to accept his decision to simultaneously embrace and practise three religions - Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam.

But despite the lush and nurturing variety of Pi’s world, there are broad political changes afoot in India, and when Pi is sixteen, his parents decide that the family needs to escape to a better life. Choosing to move to Canada, they close the zoo, pack their belongings, and board a Japanese cargo ship called the Tsimtsum. Travelling with them are many of their animals, bound for zoos in North America. However, they have only just begun their journey when the ship sinks, taking the dreams of the Patel family down with it. Only Pi survives, cast adrift in a lifeboat with the unlikeliest oftravelling companions: a zebra, an orang-utan, a hyena, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

Thus begins Pi Patel’s epic, 227-day voyage across the Pacific, and the powerful story of faith and survival at the heart of Life of Pi. Worn and scared, oscillating between hope and despair, Pi is witness to the playing out of the food chain, quite aware of his new position within it. When only the tiger is left of the seafaring menagerie, Pi realizes that his survival depends on his ability to assert his own will, and sets upon a grand and ordered scheme to keep from being Richard Parker’s next meal.

As Yann Martel has said in one interview, “The theme of this novel can be summarized in three lines. Life is a story. You can choose your story. And a story with an imaginative overlay is the better story.” And for Martel, the greatest imaginative overlay is religion. “God is a shorthand for anything that is beyond the material - any greater pattern of meaning.” In Life of Pi, the question of stories, and of what stories to believe, is front and center from the beginning, when the author tells us how he was led to Pi Patel and to this novel: in an Indian coffee house, a gentleman told him, “I have a story that will make you believe in God.” And as this novel comes to its brilliant conclusion, Pi shows us that the story with the imaginative overlay is also the story that contains the most truth.

Liana's Summary: Piscine Patel finds himself stranded on a boat in the middle of a Pacific with a 460 pound Bengal tiger-- and of course, he's scared out of his wits. Soon, he realizes that he's glad that the tiger is alive. That way, he knows he's not alone. Forced to turn to the most desperate measures, Piscine knows that he has to do anything to stay alive, and wait for himself to be saved by someone.. if that someone comes at all.

Rate(1-10): 7

Most people open this book because they're curious and they want to know what it's about. Well, I'm one of those people.. People were raving about this, and I knew I had to give it a try. So-- my overall opinion? Was it good? Yes. Was it worth my 15 dollars? Not really. I liked it, but it isn't exactly the best book ever.

I liked:
-How this book teaches us a lot about the animal kingdom-- very interesting!
-The ending. If there's one reason to read this book, holy hell, it's the ending. well I would have enjoyed it that much more if my French teacher didn't spoil the ending for me gosh

I disliked:
-How the first 100 pages was Piscine talking about his life to give some background. Well, 2 or 3 pages are enough to give background. Get on with the plot already!
-The writing was very.. flat. Sort of. Piscine's not a very good narrator. He just says things very plainly. I don't really know how to explain this..

There was the good and there was the bad. I'd say that Life of Pi would be quite enjoyable to some people and very boring to other people. To me, it was alright. Yann Martel wouldn't really keep me up all night reading his writing.

I'm eager to watch the movie! Just found the link.. I'll be watching it soon.

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