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Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Hello, readers, it’s Becca, with a very late in coming review!  I read Life of Pi in June, and have been horribly slow in getting a review up.  I’m glad to be finally giving it a go now, since the movie is coming out in November, and I feel the book will become quite popular as a result!  This is a novel that will definitely make you think.  In fact, that’s what I’ve been doing since I finished it and I’m still trying to decide how I feel about it!

Life of Pi is split between the genres of magical realism and coming of age, and the result is an interesting, sometimes sickening, beautifully written exploration of faith and human brutality.   As the story unfolds, the reader finds Pi, the main character, lost at sea in a lifeboat with a zebra, orangutan, hyena, and Bengal tiger. The tale ends with a surprise (at least for me) that will have readers questioning everything they’ve read in the novel so far.  Prepare to be shocked!  I literally shouted an obscenity while reading alone in my house when I got to the ending, and I have a friend who threw his book off of a boat when he reached the ending.  A book that sticks in your mind long after you finish it (or throw it into the ocean) is not something you find every day, and Life of Pi is, in nearly every aspect of its being, a very unique read.

The reader is introduced to Pi in his home country of India through a series of flashbacks that demonstrate his character.  Pi loves animals and is fascinated by faith.  Interesting commentary takes place when Pi begins practicing Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam simultaneously, because he sees similarities in each.  The leaders of each religion are thrilled to have him so involved, until they realize he’s practicing all three faiths and they begin arguing, each desperate to be the only religion Pi subscribes to.  When Pi explains that he is only trying to love God as best as I can, the religious leaders are somewhat subdued, but still uneasy, and the element of competition between closely related factions is never fully resolved.

After the shipwreck (Pi and his family are moving with several of their zoo animals to Canada) Pi’s wits are tested as he is trapped in a small lifeboat with wild animals and not much to keep him alive.  As the animals begin picking one another off, Pi realizes that Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger, is the only thing that stands between him and survival, but is also the only thing that will enable him to reach it.  Ingenuity and struggle follow as Pi spends seven months at sea in a tentative cooperation with Richard Parker.

I definitely recommend this book, but must warn you that for animal lovers, there are some gritty parts that may be difficult to read.  I think it’s worth attempting though, because the story truly is one of a kind.  I’m giving it three stars, and can’t wait to hear what you think about the ending!

★★★

The movie poster for Life of Pi. I can’t wait to see what Ang Lee does with it!

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