Reader reviews and comments on Life of Pi, plus links to write your own review.

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Life of Pi

by Yann Martel

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
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  • First Published:
    May 2002, 336 pages
    May 2003, 336 pages

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Zoe (08/15/03)

(For those who have finished the book)

I also disagree with what seems to be the general consensus on the meaning behind Yann Martel's Life of Pi. I do not believe that Martel intended either story to be open to reader analyses, or for us to choose which story we believe to be the "truth". Nor do I believe that what Martel intended us to take away from the story is the idea that we "can choose our own reality". Indeed many reviews have questioned which of Pi's stories are true, yet it is neither of them that is the complete truth, neither fits completely, or is entirely credible.
Take, for example, the meerkat bones left in the boat, they destroy the credibility of the story without animals- or the island. Infact, it is not a question of truth, but what is reality- what really happened in the ocean, and what really happened in Pi's mind.

Both stories are "true". The story without animals is mostly what physically happened. The story with animals is what spiritually happened for Pi. Both occured simultaneously, thus the story of Pi is not simply a tale of his journey across the Pacific, but the journey of his spirit also.

Many readers are caught up in thinking that Pi is deluded, that he consciously replaces each person on the lifeboat with an animal so that he can cope with the situation. However, Pi does not do this, as some may be led to believe, to cope, but because he is on a spiritual journey as well as a physical journey. Martel conveys to us that we are all on two journeys in our lives.

The spiritual journey, as I have already said, is the story with the animals, the story that holds truth in Pi's mind, while the people story is a physical reality. these two stories run parallel, and meet at the point where Pi meets the blind Frenchman. This is what tells us that both stories have an element of truth. Pi did talk to Richard Parker ( who represents the animal instinct in Pi) on his spiritual journey, and he also talked to the blind Frenchman (who is actually the cook). This is where his spiritual being meets his reality.

Life of Pi is also about the conflict between doubt and hope. The oil tanker represents Pi's hope, while the rubbish that floats past are his doubts. The part where Pi recovers from his blindness show all his doubts being washed away, indeed, from this point on he is able to tame Richard Parker with no trouble. He has tamed his doubts.

One reviewer on this site asked how this story makes you believe in God. It does it by comparing two highly unlikely stories, and showing us that we are all on two journeys, and at times our spiritual journey can save us from our reality. We do not "choose our own reality". It is not a matter of choice. We are all on two journeys.

If Martel has had but one success in writing this book it is that he has managed to confuse even the most logical of us, bring out the believing in the most rational of us. Life of Pi is a lesson about all of us. Martel does not spoonfeed a message to us, it is what each of us takes away from this incredible story that determines how true the book is.
Ben M (08/11/03)

As a self-admitting over-analyzer, I must say that I am utterly fascinated by this book. So many topics to explore! While most if not all of the reviews that I read on Life Of Pi seemed to view the ending as somewhat trite, I found that I've contemplated this book's and end's meaning over and over in my mind and have every time come up with a different answer. What is Martel trying to convey? That you are what you believe? Can we tell so much about ourselves as to whether we believe Pi really shacked up with a bengal tiger for 227 days or that it was simply a figuritive means of Pi dealing with his harrowing ordeal? Was Richard Parker actually Pi himself, his primeval inner will that allowed him to survive such a life-threatening experience? What was Martel trying to tell us regarding religion? I think the beauty of this book is its means of guiding but not telling, of desiring us to think, to question, to believe, as all good teachers have a knack for. I sincerely hope to question this book for a long time to come.
smazz (08/11/03)

The novel Life of Pi is a story of a boys horrible faite. Pi, who is stranded on a boat with his best friend and worst enemy Richard Parker who is a wild Bengal tiger, has to find a way to survive. I believe this novel was one of the best I have read although it may seem wierd at some times. It has many components to it and many of them relate to my life. I have not found many books that relate to me as much as this one does. It has religion, faith, courage, strength and much much more. I rate this book very high on my list of novels to read before you die.
YJ Lee (08/11/03)

Though with a slow beginning, "Life of Pi" is an interesting novel weaving multiple philosophical issues and religions. The story is about a boy named Pi Patel, who becomes subject to a shipwreck in the Pacific. Only by using his knowledge of animal behavior, faith in God, and companionship with a voracious Bengal tiger could Pi survive his stranded predicament.

The way Yann Martel manipulates time to overally present the novel can get rather confusing. He begins with Pi telling his background years after the shipwreck incident, as well as random ventures into the future. However, a second read or skim through can easily clear the confusion and make the novel even more enjoyable (more notably due to the story's great ending).

I found "Life of Pi" an excellent read involving culture, religion, nature, and life itself in one package. It is simply an original and imaginative way of storytelling. A definite page turner!
yu reader (08/11/03)

i read the book life of pi for my ap english summer assignment.... my fellow classmates told me it was about a boy. stuck on a baot, with a tiger, and some problems.... that didn't help to pique my interest.... but i had to read it so i did..... i found many parts of the book enjoying and thrilling to read though the author does tend to ramble on and on about sloths and such.... it was an ejoayble book... if there isn't anything else.... though i enjoyed the book it isn't a book iw ould like to read again with in one month..... however, did anyone else find the part about the algae island utterly fascinating??? if so please share some ideas with me..... i felt that the algae island was a related symbol to the lotus flowers in "the time machine"..... it was a kind of a lull..... i really don't know how to explain but i believe it was a kind of "drug" that lulls one into beliveing that one is content then gobbles one up.... if anyone has any other ideas, please reply.... it would be nice to have other points of view.....
Barry Panes (08/10/03)

The Life of Pi, an epic journey of a young boy struggling to find a reason to keep on living. He has lost everything that has meant something to him. But, yet he finds the power, strength, and courage to continue fighting not in the form of a person, but the spiritual belief in God. The book starts off kind of slow in the beginning, but an unforeseen twist changes that. The book picks up in future chapters and the action keeps on going. Yann Martel writes this book to keep the reader interested and wondering what they will find on the next page and trust me it is never what you think it is going to be. This is a very spiritually motivating book. I recommend this book for any person who likes surprises and wonder what they will find next.
Su Yi (08/10/03)

The Life of Pi was outstanding novel that contained enormous amount of philosophy. Issues concerning survival, hope, and companionship were fully expressed throughout the novel. I learned a great deal from Pi’s adventures and his attitude towards life. The plot was imaginative and descriptive enough to open huge pictures in my mind. The style of writing that Yann Martel provided helped me read this book faster and with more anticipation. I loved Pi and his courageous character. His brightness and responsibility impressed me. Overall I give this story a 4 because it was fun and a great learning experience on survival.


Although the first part of this book was a dozer, after the second part things started to pick up very quick. After the boat sank, it was like a whirlpool of different emotions, actions, and informations about the main character pi. I liked many parts of the book where it shows what Pi actually did to survive in the ocean. How he killed fish, ate turtles, and collected rain for water. I could actually visualize what really happened in my mind as I read the book. Overall I give this book a 4 because it had a slow start. But finished off with an exciting ending.

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