Customer Review

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brain Food Never Tasted So Good, February 1, 2006
This review is from: Life of Pi (Paperback)
I do a lot of reading and try to throw something with literary merit into the mix every third book or so. It makes me feel better about the mass market junk food I usually consume and I generally retain something of value from the experience. The downside is that the reading is often dry and a little more work than I'd prefer on my train commute to and from work. I picked up this novel because it won several literary awards and because I couldn't find anything better at Target. What I got was one of the best books I have ever read.

The Life of Pi is one of those rare books that is as enjoyable to read as it is enriching. The style is simple but captivating and after a few chapters you will be pulled into Pi's world. The story follows the life of a teenaged boy from India and is written in three parts. The first part deals with his life in India and his family and mentors. The boy is fascinated by religion and practices not only his native Hindu but Christianity and Islam as well. He is also fascinated by animals and has plenty of opportunity to study them since his father owns and operates a zoo. Political turmoil in India causes his father to move his family and his zoo to Canada but the ship they are traveling on sinks halfway across the Pacific Ocean. This starts the second part of the book, which is Pi's riveting tale of survival aboard a lifeboat with a 450-pound Bengal tiger. The last part of the book wraps up the story and poses an important question about the whole story and about the nature of religion. The novel can be read on the surface and enjoyed as a fine survival tale or it can be delved into to examine the religious metaphors that reside within. Either way, there should be more than enough here to satisfy even the most discriminating palate.

I usually don't talk about the ending of a story in a review but the ending of this novel was so moving I couldn't resist. If you haven't read the book then I urge you to stop here and go buy it. You will be glad you did. For those of you who have read the book and, like me, can't get the ending out of your heads then maybe this will help. My own take on the ending is that every religion, no matter how many adherents it has, is really a religion of one person. Everyone ultimately has to make their own leap of faith to find God. The existence of God can't be proven through scientific means, just like Pi's tale can't be factually proven. You either believe him when he tells you that he made the trip with the tiger or you don't believe him. Personally, I believe him because I don't think he would have had the will to live through the ordeal he lived through without the motivation of keeping the tiger appeased. I'll take the tiger any day, it feels better and makes more sense to me.
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