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Life of Pi

by Yann Martel

Life of Pi
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  • First Published:
    May 2002, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2003, 336 pages

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There are currently 80 reader reviews for Life of Pi
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9spaceking (06/02/14)

Life of Pi, a solid book for all to read
Life of Pi: a book about a boy named Piscine Molitor Patel and his life, including the important events of losing his family through a shipwreck and surviving through persistency on a boat with a Bengal tiger. It is a powerful book of struggle, survival, and finding the truth in oneself; it is an excellent read for all.
The survival on the boat itself is strong and exciting enough to draw attention and make a good book, so the long part one is intriguing, but a further examination shows us why the author, Yann Martel, chose to include the whole youth of Pi. His name’s backstory, his religious beliefs, his interest in animals, it all fits well together to make up the person who Pi is. On the boat, Pi needs his religious beliefs and his knowledge of animals to survive, and his name’s backstory only further increases the irony of the situation, as he is trapped on a boat, surrounded by water, and he is named after a swimming pool. Moreover, his ability to balance out all three religions is very impressive and deep, adding to his cleverness, hinting that he really was able to think of the smart tricks to tame the tiger, as well as his thoughtfulness as to go through every conceivable plan in his mind possible before actually acting. Pi even managed to weave a story similar to his real story, but horrible in such a way that the reporters could only choose his real story because they liked it more. It is because of Pi Patel’s ingenuity that he is likable; he is similar to a hero, perhaps say, Odysseus, except he actually learns on his journey, which only extends upon his already-vulnerability to the tiger, and contributes to the fact that he is only human, he is not perfect. His vulnerability makes him more closely related to us, as we face similar obstacles in life as he does—only symbolically instead of real tigers and boats. It is as a result of the way he persists through and never gives up that provides us with a solid, likable character.
However, Life of Pi is not a book without flaws. Its ending is very ambiguous, and the readers are left mourning over Pi’s poor parents. Furthermore, Pi has displayed a sense of untrustworthiness to his personality, throughout his talking to Richard Parker, and throughout his weaving of the horrid, cruel story, it seems likely that Pi could have made up his original story in the first place, and his horrid story is true, only to be replaced by his animal story so it doesn’t sound so terrible. Nevertheless, even with lots of mysterious unanswered questions, Life of Pi still stands strong with a good character and a solid plot. I give the book a 9 out of 10.
Power Reviewer Cloggie Downunder (01/01/13)

highly original, funny, thought-provoking
Life of Pi is the second novel by Canadian author Yann Martel. It tells the story the 227-day ordeal, in a lifeboat with a 450 pound Royal Bengal tiger, of a sixteen-year-old Indian youth, Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi). It is told in three parts: Pi’s youth in Pondicherry at his father’s zoo and the Patel family’s decision to emigrate to Canada; the sinking of the ship and Pi’s sojourn on the lifeboat; and Pi’s interview by officials from the Japanese Ministry of Transport, in an Infirmary in Mexico; the author’s notes about his meetings with Pi, the Japanese official who interviewed Pi and the family friend of the Patel’s who first alerted him to the story, lend an authenticity to the novel. Martel’s story touches on theology, zoology, human behaviour, sanity and the will to survive, and his meticulous research into his subjects is apparent in every chapter. With lyrical prose, Martel describes Pi’s encounters with fish, turtles, birds and whales, as well as the quality of the sky, the sea and the wind. Pi’s experience with the floating algae island proves that anything that seems too good to be true, usually is. My favourite scene was the encounter on the seaside esplanade of Pi’s parents, the pundit, the imam and the priest, especially the effect of Pi’s last words on the holy men. The objections that the incredulous Japanese officials cite to Pi’s fantastic story are quite amusing; the alternate version that Pi offers them, on the other hand, is certainly sobering. Martel’s imagery is evocative: “I believe it was this that saved my life that morning, that I was quite literally dying of thirst. Now that the word had popped into my head I couldn’t think of anything else, as if the word itself were salty and the more I thought of it, the worse the effect.” And he occasionally has Pi very succinctly describing his predicament: “...to be a castaway is to be caught up in grim and exhausting opposites….” , “Life on a lifeboat isn’t much of a life.” There is horror in this story, but also much humanity and humour is laced throughout. Highly original, funny and thought-provoking.
Sonja (04/01/11)

Imagination
Very much a Moby DIck. Needed to review the essence of the book to understand the struggle of faith, reality, and how imagination unfolds our lives. Very entertaining. Growing up in Tanzania, I had international friends from many cultures, and went to Temple, Mosque, and many churches, it was all ONE religion. Humanity.
A (08/16/10)

Richard Parker
I adore this book. Richard Parker is the lover of life. He is the fighter, the believer and the will that continues to survive in the face of doubt. Whether he is a part of Pi or an enormous tiger, he has a tenacity for being, not just existing. I would like to think he is the tiger inside of us all. Thank you, Richard Parker, for reawakening mine.
Nikki (12/18/09)

Alter Ego
I think Richard Parker is Pi's alter ego. He needs him in order to survive. Pi is a good vegetarian boy and he needs the aggressive meat eater to stay alive. When he is training Richard Parker he is not wanting him to become dominant and take over him. I loved this book =D x
Grace (08/02/08)

it was so so
I have a mixed review of this book. the beginning was extremely boring!!!! It got better as it went on, but the animals eating animals description could have been cut shorter. The twist at the end did get me thinking, but I like the animal story better! Overall the book left me kinda depressed and wanting something more.
Carrie Haas (03/15/08)

The Life of Pi
I LOVE Richard Parker, and was enthralled on Pi's views and trials on training him so that he was not a meal himself..I WAS HOWEVER upset to read the ending of the book to find out that indeed his family was dead but not in the manner I had believed all along. I want a Bengal tiger to fish for and I want to go to Pi's magical Meercat Island - even if it is cannibalistic. I LOVE the fact that Pi's ideas on religion match mine in the way that I believe in God - but do not believe all of one religion or all of another but it fills my heart to see they are all interconnected if you just have your own faith and tolerance for other religions. This book to me was one of the best I have ever read..I am a speed reader that normally reads 3-5 books a week and retains very little except a for a feeling of the story. This book I took 2 weeks to read and lovingly poured over it as I cried or laughed out loud at what was happening. I bought it hook , line, and sinker while I was reading that Mr. Patl was a real man telling his real story..what a fantastic writer that took!!
Bottom Line....LOVED IT!
lewis (11/05/07)

life of pi
Absolutely amazing book. One of my all time favourites. I agree with it being the one of the best books in decades. yes, well maybe the start is a bit slow to get going and make sense of, from them on it is hard to put down. And yes Ii was sad when I came to the last page (I wanted it to never end). However. contrary to some posts I have just read regarding Pi's daily diary entires, I found these to be exciting, making you wonder what is going to happen to him. All in all a great book, thoroughly recommended.
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