Jason's Reviews > Life of Pi

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
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's review
Nov 14, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: for-kindle, 2011, reviewed, thrill-me-chill-me-fulfill-me
Read in February, 2011

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Comments (showing 1-50 of 92) (92 new)

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Hate the book. Love the review!

David Katzman LOL!

Jennifer (aka EM) puuuurrrrrrr-fect.

Jason I looove this book, Jeanette. I've been wanting to do a proper review of it since I read it but it just never happened. I like how we were thrown for a loop at the end when it was revealed that (view spoiler), possibly.

Riku Sayuj I have hired an assassin. Fair warning.

message 6: by Jeanette (last edited Jun 15, 2012 12:56PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Ooh, thanks for the spoiler. I never finished the book and now I don't need to. he he

message 7: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony Did you get this for a couple bucks from the Nook store a couple weeks back? I did. They had it on sale.

Jason No, but I remember Amazon offering it recently as one of its daily deals. When I read it, it was from someone's borrowed copy. Are you planning to read it, RA?

message 9: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony Yes, thinking about it, if you say it's good, I'll definitely give it a shot. Plus, it was only a couple bucks.

Shovelmonkey1 Sublime summary.

Jason I loved it, RA, but as you can tell from the main book page, ratings were pretty polar.

Julie I liked it. Your summary is even better though.

Rhianna I wish I read your review before reading the book.

Allisen Lemay or does he? haha. loved this book, the end made me question everything, like the end of inception. is it or isn't it as it seems, who knows...one of life's great mysteries :)

message 15: by Jason (last edited Jul 02, 2012 06:30AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jason This is freakin' awesome!


Mr. Martel —

My daughter and I just finished reading Life of Pi together. Both of us agreed we prefer the story with animals.

It is a lovely book — an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling.

Thank you.

(Signed, 'Barack Obama')

(view spoiler)

message 16: by David (last edited Jul 02, 2012 12:41PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars


Many people interpret this book as endorsing a proof of god, but I find that to be a simplification of the literary implications. The narrator asks you what you prefer - a "real" story (as in grounded, non-mystical) story or a prettified "fictional" story. He essentially acknowledges at the end that the story was completely made up with the tiger. Which then implies that "god" is just as much a myth as this story is. After all, it is fiction to begin with and a narrator does not equate to an author. So it's more a question to the reader, what do you prefer? Pretty lies or the truth even if it's ugly?

My disagreement with this question is just that I find many god myths, such as the biblical Christian myth to be just as ugly as a world without god because i find the myth of Hell to be the most disgusting, immoral, ugly myth (an eternity of suffering) I've ever heard. Far more ugly to me than a world without god. But the point is, that is my opinion, and i find that to be just as validated in my interpretation of this book. It allowed me to find the story an entertaining myth. It didn't require to me to believe the story as "truth." And Martell leaves the question to the reader of what they prefer to believe rather than decide for us. In a way, making the story so impossible to believe (living island floating in the sea) fits neatly with the religious mythology that people believe when they accept story as truth - such as a cracker turning in the body of a dead man. So i think it balances out enough to not force the mythology down the reader's throat. I know many reviewers get really bent out of shape that Martell is pushing belief in god on the readers, but i didn't interpret it/react to it that way at all - and given i'm an athiest/Buddhist, i do get my back up when I feel a book is forcing religion down my throat.

message 17: by Jason (last edited Jul 02, 2012 02:14PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jason I agree with so much of this, Dave, but I did come at it a little bit differently...

First, I do agree that, FOR ME, calling this book an allegory for believing in God is an oversimplification. True. But I didn't take the "fictional" account to be paralleling that God is myth, either. I don't think the author acknowledges anything about which version of events is made-up; it's rather left pretty ambiguous, isn't it? I mean, even though there are certain components of the story that seem far-fetched (e.g. the floating carnivorous island), I think the point here is that: "what's to say it couldn't be this way? is there evidence of the floating island not existing? can there ever be concrete evidence of nonexistence?"

Having said that, I agree completely that you can find the story to be an entertaining one, and even have a preference for the "prettified" version of it, without having that necessarily reflect on your religious beliefs. Like you, I think it's neat that the author leaves that up to the reader. You might need to believe in the human version because it represents something more tangible, but you can also prefer the animal version without that implying a willingness to ignore the truth.

David Katzman I did get a sense that he was implying that the prettified version was leading us on the whole time. Yes, it was ambiguous not defined. And it's a story anyway, so everything is made up! Fiction is weird that way; even within the narrative of a story if you posit one version as "true" and another "false" it is only true/false within the context of the story. It's still all made up and only proves something metaphorically, never literally.

I didn't get the sense he was posing the question of whether nonexistence can be proved because that brings up a whole philosophical ball of wax that he didn't tackle. Such as that you can't really prove ANYTHING if you follow Wittgenstein's line of thinking, that all proof is just based on a worldview and all so-called facts are based on assumptions that are based on assumption, etc. Even cause and effect is an assumption. According to Wittgenstein, the question of whether god exists (or any other metaphysical question) are non-sensical level questions. They are questions that are debating definitions of words not things. And the words themselves are abstract. We can't prove existence or non-existence. We can't even DEFINE existence because it just relates to other words. It leads to absurdity really. Check out Wittgenstein's On Certainty. I reviewed it here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/... It's a short and fascinating book.

But to the point of what Martell might have been trying to say, regardless of whether existence or non-existence can be proven. At the end, i did get the implication once the character revealed the alternate possibility that we had been "led on" the whole time. That it was a fancy story. Thus the question was, do you wish to believe a fancy story or an ugly true one. Do you want to live believing in myth or in reality? And everyone has to debate that for themselves. I thought the main character thought the myth was better. But i didn't think necessarily that the author thought the myth was better. To me he remained neutral on that.

Jason I agree with the narrator; I think the myth is better. As far as existence/nonexistence goes, I meant things on much more down-to-earth terms; like, that the foundation of faith rests on a belief in something one cannot see, hear, touch, or feel, so does the animal version of the story, so it acts as a sort of parallel. Yes, one could argue that things we see and hear don't really exist, either, but in terms of this story, I think the people version is meant to represent that which is tangible.

Of course, there was only one eyewitness on that boat, so, I guess even the people story could be considered debatable, as well...

Jason Jane wrote: "But 'mean cat' is redundant! All cats are mean!"

and some are just (view spoiler), apparently. :D

message 21: by Cecily (last edited Jul 20, 2012 05:24AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cecily There's a very weird trailer for the film/movie doing the rounds, but the one we saw in the cinema doesn't appear to be on YouTube. Odd. My husband (who doesn't know the book) thought it was a Disney short, rather than something with depth!

message 22: by Sean (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sean Cunningham HA

message 23: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Just finished this book and Wow! I can't rate it 5 stars as I had a really hard time getting through the first part. Does the religion tie to the animals as symbols at all? Or do you think they tie to the humans instead? I really enjoyed the story and loved the ending!

Jason It was a slow read for me in the beginning, too, but the parts that were best (for me) were when he was on the raft, which you'd think would be the opposite because it sounds like it would be boring but it was not! And I loved the ending of it, the hint that the animals are actually (view spoiler). I also debated between 4 and 5 but this is one book that has stuck with me looong after I've finished reading it, which to me makes it a 5.

I think this book, along with A Prayer for Owen Meany has some strong religious overtones, but I really pick up on the spiritual side of things (because I'm not very religious). I liked the idea that, as humans, we have a choice to believe only what makes sense to us or to take the leap of faith to believe the impossible. It's a very optimistic-pessimistic thing, in a way.

I'm really glad you liked it, Sue! Did you read it on account of my recommendation or had you planned to read it anyway?

message 25: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Actually my friend Mary Kate (also on GR) gave me her book to read and I had seen that you had it on your favorite list and I have heard from others...so a combination of them all...glad I read it!

Jason Sue, what do you think of this?

message 27: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Hmm..Def want to see the movie but it won't be anything close to the book. Never is.....Looks like a good kid movie. Depends on how the end is portrayed...

Jason I agree. I actually am a huge fan of Ang Lee so my gut tells me to trust him, but I am very wary of a screen adaptation of this. It's more of of an internal plot than an external one. They might have to take liberties...

message 29: by Stephen M (last edited Aug 25, 2012 11:46AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Stephen M (view spoiler)

That was going to be my review at first.

Jason hahah yeah, GR needs some more LOLcat reviews. But to curb my increasing reputation for vacuous review-writing, at least there is some productive (and relevant!) conversation circa message 16. Can't show Hermano Penkí yet, though. He still thinks (view spoiler)!

♥iDevourBooks♥ ☆Sonic~Obsessed☆ I love this book! It's a great book for classic readers ;)

Susan status win!

Deepthi Shetty Oh com'on, it wasn't a 'mean' cat.

message 34: by Maya (new) - rated it 1 star

Maya Panika This review is many, many, MANY times better than the book.

Jason Go tell that to the ladies who are complaining about it!

Sarah This thread is awesome! So much to think about.

message 37: by Lori (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lori Carney Such a brief review to create such a deep thread! Good work!

Tosca lots of effort went in this summary ;-) couldn't have said it better!

message 39: by Kip (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kip You're my favourite.

Christina Ha! Perfect summary! XD

message 41: by ~~~N~~~ (new) - added it

~~~N~~~ For quite a bit, I just kept looking for a 'more' button, but I finally realized there isn't more... I feel like I've been trolled without the troller knowing he trolled.

Jason Obssesive Girl wrote: "For quite a bit, I just kept looking for a 'more' button, but I finally realized there isn't more... I feel like I've been trolled without the troller knowing he trolled."

The Internet is out to get you.

message 43: by ~~~N~~~ (new) - added it

~~~N~~~ ^Basically. x3

message 44: by Tracy (new)

Tracy have not read, but thanks for input.After Oscars I decided to read book and see movie,Thanks for the input , tracy.

message 45: by Paige (new) - added it

Paige Lmfao

April Good review

Jason You have no idea how hard I worked on it.

Jason Purdy This review was moving, insightful, and informative. I appreciate the time you took to share your wisdom with us. It's re-evaluated how I see the book, definitely.

Jason Oh, you're totally welcome. This is my deepest review ever.

Heidi Carter Best review ever!

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