Nathan's Reviews > Life of Pi

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
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's review
Apr 13, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 1001-books, read-2011, philoso-fiction
Read in April, 2011

So the plot of this book is pretty easy. Pi and his family are moving from India to Canada. They're traveling by ship. Ship sinks, and pi manages to get to a lifeboat. Also on the lifeboat are a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra, a rat, and a tiger. Oh yeah, Pi is also a Hindu. Well he's actually a Christian, but he's also Muslim. Did I mention that there are goats that live with the Rhinos?

Life of Pi as a story is entertaining in parts. It starts off slow, but then the castaway section begins and it's really entertaining. However, throughout all of this, the author is bombarding the reader with symbolism. It's all over. Want some Jesus? Got it. Hindu allegories? Done. Something else? I'm sure you can find it, even if the author didn't intend it, by sheer volume I'd wager the symbols are there.

The writing was truly good, as it to be expected from a Booker winner. This book fell short for me though, but honestly it was probably more of a 3.5 than a 4. I liked the story, I liked the flood of symbols, I think I just didn't like Pi. I didn't not like Pi either, but he was just a narrator. Old Pi who is telling the story is not young Pi on the ship. Old Pi no longer has Richard Parker by his side, and it seems to come though. Maybe that's the point, but it caused some disinterest for me.

I put the book down a number of times early on. Mainly because as open as Pi was toward the major religions, his thoughts on agnosticism and atheism left me with my feathers a bit ruffled. I almost didn't finish the book because of this. Not because it was offensive, poorly written, or anything bad about the book, it's just that Pi and I had so little in common in the early goings.

I'm not sure what the author's point was with this book, and I think I like that. There's a lot to think about, and many different messages to take. I'll say this much, this book did not shift my thoughts on the supernatural one iota. While it certainly made a point about religion (one I'm sure I disagree with), it made it was and in an entertaining way. The hodgepodge of religions and symbols should make it easy to find many different messages, one of which is sure to fit your faith of choice.

This rambling mess that should have been better thought/sorted is now over. That's for tuning in.

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