Saturday, August 3, 2013

{2013 TBR Pile Challenge - Review) Life of Pi by Yann Martel

ISBN #: 978-0156027328
Page Count: 326
Copyright: May 1, 2003
Publisher: Mariner Books

Book Summary:
(Taken from Amazon)

The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.

The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional - but is it more true?

Kathy's Review:
(Reprinted with permission from her personal blog, Grown Up Book Reports)

If I'm being honest, I didn't care for the first part of this book. I was just all, GET TO THE TIGER PART. If I didn't know there was a tiger part, maybe I would have settled into the story more, the part where he learns multiple religions, etc. But then THE TIGER PART CAME. And it sucked me in, the gruesome, yet necessary, things that happened in order for Pi and the tiger to survive their time on the lifeboat. And the zebra ... the poor zebra!

But in the end, was this a story about a boy trapped at sea with only a tiger for company? Or was there a larger metaphor at play here? I'm not smart enough to figure this out, so I suggest you read it and get back to me. I took it at face value while it was happening, and if you do that, I think you still come away with a fantastic story of determination and triumph against all odds. But if you look below the surface, there's a whole religious undertone happening here. Pi himself practiced three religions and so clearly Pi drew upon his faith to make it through his ordeal.

The final portion of the book tells of when he washes up on shore and a team of investigators comes to interview him. They don't believe his story, so he tells them another one, without animals. They don't believe that one, either, and in the end, don't care. They just want to know what happened to the Japanese tanker Pi was on that sank and left him afloat.

The Goodreads reviewers have some much more detailed, smart, insightful opinions on this book, so I defer to them if you're really looking for a review from someone who "got it." In fact, I feel dumb after having read those reviews. I feel like maybe I missed the point of this book. Maybe I should watch the movie instead.

Anyway, I did enjoy what I came away with from this book. So I guess that counts for something.

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