Kirstine's Reviews > Life of Pi

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
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May 17, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, magical-realism, adventure, reviewed, 1-men
Read in January, 2011

I was extremely surprised by this book. Let me tell you why (it's a funny story):

On the Danish cover it says "Pi's Liv" (Pi's Life), but I hadn't noticed the apostrophe, so I thought it said "Pis Liv" (Piss Life) and I thought that was an interesting title at least, so perhaps I should give it a go. So I did. And... what I read was not at all what I had expected (I thought it was a book about a boy in the Indian slums or something). It actually wasn't until I looked up the book in English I realized the title wasn't "Piss Life". I was deceived for the longest time and, well, not only about this.

When I first read it I also thought it was based on a true story. I'm not sure why I thought that, I must have misread something (I vaguely recall thinking the prologue was instead an introduction). It was a sad (and ehm, slightly humiliating) day when I discovered the truth lay elsewhere. I guess your romantic beliefs must die someday, and that was the day for me.

See, it's easier to believe in the world and be optimistic about it, when you also believe that world capable of containing a boy and a tiger co-existing on a lifeboat for 7 months and surviving.

The truth is this book probably changed my life, not in any grand, extraordinary way. But with the small things, the small observations. Like how he was afraid to run out of paper, to document his days in the lifeboat, and instead he ran out of ink. Like how he chose to embrace three religions, not just one.

This book, and Pi especially, represent and embody a way of life that I admire. It's not about believing in God, but about what it takes to believe in something, anything really. Yourself, the world, goodness, life, God.

If it seemed real enough for me to believe it had happened, perhaps the real world is indeed a place where it could happen. And that's what I want to believe, even if real life might tell me otherwise.
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Quotes Kirstine Liked

Yann Martel
“How bitterly glad I am to see you. You bring joy and pain in equal measure. Joy because you are with me, but pain because it won't be for long. What do you know about the sea? Nothing. What do I know about the sea? Nothing. Without a driver this bus is lost. Our lives are over. Come aboard if your destination is oblivion-- It should be our next stop. We can sit together. You can have the window seat, if you want. But it's a sad view. Oh enough of this disembling. Let me say plainly: I love you, I love you, I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you. Not the spiders, please.”
Yann Martel, Life of Pi

Yann Martel
“The worst pair of opposites is boredom and terror. Sometimes your life is a pendulum swing from one to the other. The sea is without a wrinkle. There is not a whisper of wind. The hours last forever. You are so bored you sink into a state of apathy close to a coma. Then the sea becomes rough and your emotions are whipped into a frenzy. Yet even these two opposites do not remain distinct. In your boredom there are elements of terror: you break down into tears; you are filled with dread; you scream; you deliberately hurt yourself And in the grip of terror—the worst storm—you yet feel boredom, a deep weariness with it all.”
Yann Martel, Life of Pi

Reading Progress

02/14/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-27 of 27) (27 new)

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message 1: by Colin (new)

Colin Bruce Anthes I wish I had a story like that! Haha! Lovely review.

s.penkevich The biography Piss Life won't come out until I've done something worthy of writing a biography for ha. That is quite funny, how much did the misconception sway your early opinions of what was going on in the book? Great review though, it's always nice to hear when a book shapes a positive redemptive vision of life for the reader.

Peter One of the reasons I love goodreads is that you come across great reviews like this, even if you personally didn't like the book.
Thank you.

message 4: by Kirstine (last edited Sep 28, 2012 01:03AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kirstine s.penkevich: thank god I see your comment now, many months later. I think my misconceptions only helped keep me in a state of awe, and not much more. Though I was very confused that a "island of green plants that will eat you at night" actually existed. Of course, had I known it was fiction, it might not have had as great an impact on me. You know, it always sways you more to know someone actually did it, instead of someone just making it up.

Peter: Oh, this comment made my day. This is one of my favourite things about Goodreads. Even if I didn't like a book, I love to read and understand what other people loved or hated about it, and what they got out of it. I'm glad you liked my review despite your own experience :) Thank you! (let's thank each other, so polite).

message 5: by Cydnee (new) - added it

Cydnee Gillett I think your review makes me want to read the book. That, and your story is awesomely funny! 'Piss Life' aha, you're so cute xD

Kirstine Cydnee wrote: "I think your review makes me want to read the book. That, and your story is awesomely funny! 'Piss Life' aha, you're so cute xD"

I sure as hell didn't feel cute when I found out how much this book had "lied" to me, mostly just kind of ridiculous, haha, but thanks for finding it awesome :D
And you should check out the book! And then maybe the movie. Both were surprisingly excellent.

Ally Brilliant review, really lovely!

Anna I finished this book today and I agree with you; it truly changed my life in a very small but wonderful way. The thing is I never even questioned the credibility of Pi's story until he told the second version and it actually made me cry a bit because after all the whole book made me feel a little better about the world. I love your story!!

Anthony Dalton What a magical review, just beautiful.

Ailish you know, I thought it was a true story too!

Thomas Nice review. And, interestingly, the gramatically correct title in Danish would actually be 'Piss Life' ('Pis liv') witout the apostrophe.

message 12: by Leah (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leah I also thought that this was a true story, the authors note at the beginning of the book leads you to believe so... But true or not, I loved the magic of it!

message 13: by Deeb (new) - rated it 5 stars

Deeb O'doyle I read somewhere it is based on a real person who didn't want to be known. I don't know if it's true or not, but as we know from reading the book you have to believe in something. So I choose to believe that.
I too am very happy to have read your review, well said.

message 14: by Morgan (new)

Morgan I was unsure whether I actually wanted to read this or not, but your review really made me want too :) thanks!

message 15: by Annie (new)

Annie I thought it was a true story too! I don't know how I got that!

Nivedita wonderful review! couldn't have put it in better words myself. just like you said, the book changed my life too. don't know why many people dislike it. i would love to read more books like this.

Danah Selmi I'm really disappointed as thought it was a true story too though I hated the 'other version' he claimed and prefered the first version .Great review ! It's all about the little details and his beliefs.

message 18: by Beni (new) - rated it 2 stars

Beni Rusani Very nice review. :-)

Kathryn You misread nothing, I believe it was the author's incredible preparation to the story in the author's note that makes most readers (myself included) believe this is a true story. Fantastic review, I also found it life-changing in the small details...

message 20: by Ephantus (new)

Ephantus Great and unexpected ending, just like the Twilight Zone.

Rachell Best review I've read for this book

Almira Samaco what i really liked about the book is that it reminds you that life is about perspectives and ultimately about choice. i hope i am choosing the better story.

Michelle Only Wants to Read Beautifully written. I find it funny how you thought it was called "Piss Life" and Pi's reference to people calling him "Pissing" to mock his name. :)

Florentina I just finished it and I can't stop thinking about it! Its the most amazing story I've ever read Kristine!

message 25: by Zwe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Zwe "I thought I would run out of papers. But it is the pen that ran out." It is also my favorite line!

message 26: by Joe (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joe 'If it seemed real enough for me to believe it had happened, perhaps the real world is indeed a place where it could happen. And that's what I want to believe, even if real life might tell me otherwise.'

When I read this, a thought came into my head. What if she's lying about her first experience of the book in order to make a more comical review. Then I thought, which would be the better story? And of course, the idea that you picked this book up and believed it to be 'Piss life'- a true story about an Indian boy who survived 7 months on a life boat with a tiger is far more appealing. Here is one of Pi's many gems. It doesn't really matter whether or not a story is true. What matters is that we WANT it to be true, and in doing so, a fiction can perhaps become it's own kind of truth for the believer. As Pi himself said, 'the world isn't just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no?
Doesn't that make life a story?'

So whether or not what you say is true to reality, whether or not it is just a light exaggeration of an otherwise dull truth, you have managed to (knowingly or unknowingly) put into practice (for me at least) a fundamental concept from this book.

I must thank you for that.

Sheherazahde I was really annoyed at the author for writing a prolog that made it seem like it was a true story. It put me off the book for months.

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