review: life of pi

25 June 2012

book info:
ages: 15 and up
grades: 9 and up
on sale: now
copy from: library
pages: 319

title: Life of Pi
author: Yann Martel

Growing up in Pondicherry, India, Piscine Molitor Patel - known as Pi - has a rich life. Bookish by nature, young Pi acquires a broad knowledge of not only the great religious texts but of all literature, and has a great curiosity about how the world works. His family runs the local zoo, and he spends many of his days among goats, hippos, swans, and bears, developing his own theories about the nature of animals and how human nature conforms to it. Pi’s family life is quite happy, even though his brother picks on him and his parents aren’t quite sure how to accept his decision to simultaneously embrace and practise three religions - Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam.

But despite the lush and nurturing variety of Pi’s world, there are broad political changes afoot in India, and when Pi is sixteen, his parents decide that the family needs to escape to a better life. Choosing to move to Canada, they close the zoo, pack their belongings, and board a Japanese cargo ship called the Tsimtsum. Travelling with them are many of their animals, bound for zoos in North America. However, they have only just begun their journey when the ship sinks, taking the dreams of the Patel family down with it. Only Pi survives, cast adrift in a lifeboat with the unlikeliest oftravelling companions: a zebra, an orang-utan, a hyena, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.


This is yet another summer reading books I had to read. I knew it was pretty popular, having seen others with the copy, so I wasn't to disappointed on reading it. See, I have a good feeling on books I want to read and want I don't want to read, and even when I had first heard of it, I didn't want to read it.

You can probably tell by my tone of that first paragraph how this review is going to play out. The first pages was Mr Martel's background on this story, and then the pages afterwards was a boring, with a report on sloths.  The rest of the story maintained this boringness continuously. The only time I was ever interested was reading about Pi and Richard Parker on that boat together, and even it wasn't well done. The last few pages were difficult to understand.

I think I'm not thinking deeply enough, or just not seeing what I'm supposed to be seeing. Mr Martel said in one interview, "The theme of this novel can be summarised in three lines. Life is a story. You can choose your story. And a story with an imaginative overlay is the better story" This latter was what I knew is present, but what I thought was not effectively, or rather clearly, shown in the story. He mentions that the best overlay is religion. The story started off with this, and I thought that I'd love to read more on his religious journey through the world. But it abruptly changes with ending up on a boat with a tiger. I fail to see the connection between these two significant aspects of the book.

With respect to the author and lovers of of this novel, I won't continue pointing out particular flaws, and will end with...if it sounds interesting, then read it. But I wouldn't recommend this. So it gets one and half trees. To be honest, it's one of the lowest ratings I've given so far. I think I remember my vow to not review a book if I didn't like it, but this is a summer reading book, and I hope to catalogue these thoughts for later use. So sorry!



6 thoughts:

  1. I must agree with your one and a half tree rating...I started to read the summary of it on a few sites before deciding to place a hold on it at the library. I was bored just looking at the summaries! To each his own, I suppose, but I do not think I shall read this and your review just makes me not want to even more so. Sorry it was required...Glad that Hamlet is better!

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  2. Oof yeah I doubt this book would be for me. I haven't read a lot of reviews on it either but the ones I have didn't motivate me to read it >.<

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  3. Well, that's really disappointing. I haven't really wanted to read this, but it's always seemed like one of those books I should read just because of the hype. I'm glad I can skip this for something else!

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  4. Excellent read. Inspiring and profound. Demonstrates the amazing strength of the human spirit. I will definitely read it again, and recommend the story to everyone.

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