Life of Pi, Yann Martel

Life of PiOne boy, one lifeboat and one 450 pound Bengal tiger adrift in the Pacific Ocean.

I was intrigued when the book first came out but my mum read it and told me it was weird and highly derecommended it (excuse my liberty with the English language). So I wrote it off and got on with reading many other things. Then the film came out. I saw the trailers and thought that it looked amazing but I didn’t want to see the film without reading the book. Then a couple of my friends read the book and told me it was awesome. So I got hold of a copy and gave it a try.

The first few chapters were a bit up and down, I enjoyed the first couple with the explanation of Pi’s name and the description of the zoo but then things got a bit…religious. I’m not a religious person myself and while I have no objection to other people’s religion I’d rather not endure lectures about it. There was a lot of talk about religion for a while as Pi converted twice and became a boy who was active in three different religious communities. Having said that it wasn’t particularly lecturey, I didn’t feel like I was supposed to convert so I was fine with reading about Pi’s discoveries and his journey through faith.

After all the converting the religion died down except for the odd prayer which was frankly more than justified.

The rest of the book was devoted to Pi’s attempts to survive when he is stranded alone with Richard Parker, a non-too-happy tiger. Pi is nothing if not ingenious and the ways he finds to fend of Richard Parker and  keep both of them alive as they drift across the ocean are brilliant. It would take an incredible feat of writing to make almost 300 pages of one person and one cat fascinating.

But somehow Martel does it. I don’t quite know how but I was hooked. It’s true that a things got a bit weird a few times but on the whole I found the whole thing gripping.

I watched the film when I was about halfway through the book which is very unlike me but we’d had it planned for a while and I didn’t read fast enough (I’ve discovered the puzzle page in the Evening Standard and it’s been quite detrimental to my reading time) but apart from giving away the ending it didn’t ruin anything. It’s a very good film but there’s plenty of action they cut out leaving lots for me to enjoy in the book. Admittedly it did give away the twist at the very end but I found I could live with it.

Ultimately the story is about the importance of faith, not necessarily of a religious kind but faith none the less and it’s a point which is demonstrated very  sweetly.

So I’m glad I finally gave this book a chance and I’ve discovered an excellent film adaptation to boot. Happy days all round!

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12 responses to “Life of Pi, Yann Martel

  1. My mum is reading this at the moment and she has derecommended it to me as well! Maybe it’s a mum thing!

  2. I read this book a long time ago, but I remember really liking it. I haven’t seen the film yet. I’m not actually sure if I want to, really. Also, I love the word ‘derecommended’. 🙂

    • It was hard to imagine how they’d make a good film out of it but they managed, there was a lot of stuff cut out though (as you’d probably expect) but some of the effects were stunning. I can understand not wanting to see it though, I’m like that with a lot of film adaptations.

      Thanks, I think I’ll start using it more often, see if I can’t make it catch on!

  3. Oooh I just bought this so I’m happy to see you liked it. My main concern was also that it would be ‘too preachy’, I find learning about others religions and beliefs interesting but as you’ve said I don’t like it when it gets lecture-ey.

    Great review. 🙂

    • The religion is pretty much concentrated into about three chapters (I’m guessing at the number there) but once you get through that you should be fine. I think that if I was stranded in the Pacific with a tiger I’d start praying as well!

  4. I really liked the movie, it was so sad at the end 😦 I need to still read the book though.

  5. Pingback: 2013 storified. | Books on the Tube

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