Review: Life of Pi

Life of Pi
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s billed as a book to make you believe in God. That sounded intriguing, and I enjoyed the film adaptation, so I decided to give it a try. I think this is one that is going to have to sit on my mind for a while before I really make a final determination about it, though.

I liked it, although it started off very slow and seemed to lack any kind of direction. Pi was always interesting, though. His quest for knowledge of God kept me going there in the beginning, through the long descriptions of animals in the zoo.

In the end, the reader can see why Martel bogged down his story with those descriptions, those facts, scientific tidbits. What is a tiger? We get many descriptions of Richard Parker, just as Pi had many names for God. Which one is correct is up to us to choose. That is where the book is a success.

That and the language. There are so many brilliant passages in this book, quotes I want to pull out and paint on the walls of my classroom. “The world isn’t just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no?
Doesn’t that make life a story?” That’s the one I think will actually end up one my wall, though it’ll be painted on paper and tacked up rather than painted on the wall itself. This novel is full of gems like that.

It was interesting to note the things that were left out of the movie. Most notable to me was Pi’s temporary blindness and the discovery of the Frenchman during that time. In the movie I never understood why the hyena was the ship’s cook in the second story Pi tells the Japanese investigators. It makes much more sense now.

I do recommend this book, but plan to spend some time with it. You won’t hurry through it, and you won’t be finished with it when you turn the last page.

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