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Life of Pi Paperback – Black & White, May 1, 2003
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From The New Yorker
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
"Life of Pi could renew your faith in the ability of novelists to invest even the most outrageous scenario with plausible life."— The New York Times Book Review
"A story to make you believe in the soul-sustaining power of fiction."— Los Angeles Times Book Review
"A gripping adventure story . . . Laced with wit, spiced with terror, it's a book by an extraordinary talent."— St. Paul Pioneer-Press
"A terrific book . . . Fresh, original, smart, devious, and crammed with absorbing lore."— Margaret Atwood
"An impassioned defense of zoos, a death-defying trans-Pacific sea adventure a la Kon-Tiki, and a hilarious shaggy-dog story . . . : This audacious novel manages to be all of these." — The New Yorker
"Readers familiar with Margaret Atwood, Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje and Carol Shields should learn to make room on the map of contemporary Canadian fiction for the formidable Yann Martel." — Chicago Tribune
- Lexile Measure : 830
- Item Weight : 9.6 ounces
- Paperback : 326 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780156027328
- ISBN-13 : 978-0156027328
- Product Dimensions : 8 x 5 x 0.91 inches
- Reading level : 14 and up
- Publisher : Mariner Books (May 1, 2003)
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 0156027321
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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However, I wanted to add a warning. The second half of the book is very gruesome and can get a bit tedious with details, sometimes VERY GRUESOME and TEDIOUS with details! It is only the second book I have ever read that I prefer the movie to the book. It has the "heart" of the book without showing all the gore.
That said, I DO recommend the book. I sobbed, smiled and more. Just not for everyone. You'll definitely remember it awhile after reading.
That being said this book did not tickle my fancy. It may be because I am a lover of thrillers, and writing that thrusts you through the chapters. This is a book for those who love the journey and don't care to rush to the end. It came repeatedly recommended in my searches for 'books with the best plot twists', which is how it fell into my hands however what I assume was to be the plot twist was more of a bit of plot confusion. I'm still unsure of what really happened and what the real ending is.
I often found myself checking to see how many pages I had left, but admire Martel's ability to come up with ways to keep the plot moving forward on 227 days stranded in the Pacific Ocean. An inspirational tale of survival, endurance, resilience and faith but one I would expect to read for a literature class and not voluntarily in my free time.
Yann Martell manages to tell the same man vs. nature themed story in a completely new fashion, loaded with questions about life and death, beliefs, family and spirituality. Survival stories remind us not only that life is worth living but that we can cling to the desire to live as long as we can find a reason to keep fighting, what if the reason to stay alive is life itself? Pi shows us that sometimes it is when we lose everything that we might find ourselves.
I’m hesitant to define this tale as a religious one yet it is deeply spiritual. Pi has a great heart and his soul (his mind, if you rather) craves for knowledge, both physical which is made clear by his interest in zoology and metaphysical which leads him to approach religion. Aristotle said that “All men by nature desire to know” and Pi’s desire to know is nothing else that this natural desire common to all humankind.
I believe that what makes Pi different from other boys (and men) is the fact that he is able to realise that both the physical and metaphysical knowledge are rooted in a common true. The spiritual search of Pi is not the search of someone trying to find a messiah, nor of someone looking for a new lifestyle; it is a pursue of a higher truth. That’s the reason why he can be a pious Hindu. And Muslim. And Catholic. Because he understands that both three religions convey a true message. “I told her that in fact she was not so wrong; that Hindus, in their capacity for love, are indeed hairless Christians, just as Muslims, in the way they see God in everything, are bearded Hindus, and Christians, in their devotion to God, are hat-wearing Muslims”.
Martell gives you a novel with a powerful insight of a very smart and pious boy who clings to life while coexisting with a tiger in the middle of the sea. The words are overwhelming by the deep meaning they convey and at the same time beautifully used to describe an imposing scenario.
This is a book totally worth reading, I totally enjoyed it from beginning to end, loved the characters, yes, it might be a little slow at first and the time spent in the sea to long, but it’s definitely worth it.
Life of Pi takes place in 1970's India where we get the story of Pi growing up in a zoo. The book continues with Pi ending in a shipwreck and having to share a lifeboat with a tiger.
The way Martel tells the story is very interesting. There's the parallel story of Martel himself going to visit an older Pi who tells the story that we are now reading. There's the occasional zoology lesson interspersed and an examination of faith. All this combined with the brutality of surviving in the Pacific Ocean. All of this is told through Pi, through Martel, through Pi which makes it quite a third hand telling.
The ending is however genius as it completely flips the story on its head and you might have a revelation from it.
Overall a great read, and be sure to catch the movie as well!
Top reviews from other countries
Too many books I've come across lately lack any emotional or philosophical depth, so it was lovely to read something so whimsical and heart-felt. The story is incredibly simple - a boy survives a ship wreck and finds himself on a lifeboat with a bengal tiger - which leaves a LOT of room for emotional and philosophical exploration. Probably too much room.
It opens wonderfully, painting an imaginative and technicolour picture of Pi's life and family that draws you into his world. Sadly, any momentum is then lost in the following tedious exploration of religious context spanning many, many chapters. So the boy worships many gods; a funny joke told too many times, before the punchline is explained in excruciating detail.
Once castaway, the story picks up again. The first half of this adventure is packed with variety and answers to those "what if" questions that naturally spring to mind. After a while, though, it just gets boring. I started looking at the progress bar at the bottom of my kindle, willing it to come to an end.
I had mixed feelings about the ending. While I was reading it, I was cursing Martel for dragging it out needlessly. But by the time I'd finished it, I totally understood why he had to.
Ultimately, there are some damp patches throughout, but it starts well and ends well, with a few really nice set-pieces in between. It also leaves you with some great "what do you think really happened" discussion material when it's all over.
The book starts with an "authors note" which places the mood and source of the story. Plenty of seeds are sown here and the spiritual setting is created. Throughout the book we hear more from the author as he gets to find out Pi's story.
Scene setting dominates the first third of the book and Pi is established, then the boat sinks and the story simply starts to fly.
I savoured this book, the writing is beautiful and seems to demand that you read it slowly, taking in every word. Pi had an endless amount of time at sea and wants the reader to understand that the progress of time means nothing compared to the compulsion to survive.
Even having seen the film and having fairly high expectations, I was blown away by the relationship between boy and tiger with its simplicity and complexity on many different levels.
We know that Pi survives from the beginning of the book which gives a calm to our experience of his journey and I somehow wanted his progression (physically and spiritually) to continue forever.
The book is full of wonderful quotes but one of my favourites is " Fiction is the selective transforming of reality" - somehow seems to sum up this book wonderfully.
How foolish I was.
Life of Pi is an extraordinary 3D adventure.
It is a film I will forever remember.
With astonishing visual effects, showing what it means to be human, and a remarkable storyline between the two central characters, Life of Pi is unquestionably a great film.
I fully recommend this film for it is so much more than a film.
It is an experience.
Then I started reading it.
My opinion was slowly changed over the first few chapters. This book is beautifully written without being pretentious. The author describes scenes and events in a way that makes them easy to imagine and worth picturing in your mind as though you were there. Often a film will outdo a book on the fact that it can show beautiful scenery that can't easily be described in words. If that is the case here then I can't wait to see the film because to outdo the imagery possible from this book it will need to be spectacular.
The first third of the book builds up the character of Piscine (Pi) and often goes into details of religion. It never goes so far as to preach in any way though. It doesn't say that any one religion is, overall, better than any other. It is even funny when an argument breaks out regarding the subject. I am atheist but I am also fascinated by religion so maybe that was why I didn't find this section of the story boring. I can, however, see why some people would and would only urge them to persevere because the book picks up considerably afterwards.
The idea of a boy being stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger and a few other animals sounds ridiculous. That someone could write a book based on this event and make it interesting is almost unbelievable. How can you write so much about such a small group of characters trapped in a miniscule almost featureless setting and keep people from falling asleep? I had wondered whether all of the animals would start talking because I went into this book with no idea of how the characters interacted with each other. The answer again lies in the authors ability to describe everything so amazingly well. Whether it is about the confines and yet territorially broken up small boat, the vast emptiness of the ocean, the beauty and terror of the weather, the despair of being alone, the elation of discovering a way to continue surviving, or the fear of, and respect for, a 450 pound tiger, it is stunningly written.
Different people will interpret the words in different ways too. Some will read it is an adventure with a bit of survival ingenuity thrown in; some might read it as a kind of spiritual journey giving events a religious meaning; others could interpret it as a view of life itself. The way it is written means that there will be different parts where readers suddenly think, "Ahhhh! So that's what the author is trying to say." I personally had my moment of realisation, (I won't say at what point), and saw it as an interpretation of life. Everyone has there own little area in a vast world, with their own hopes and fears, their own limited provisions, their own moments of suddenly working out how to do something, their own loneliness and their own dark times and light times. You may read it and find some other explanation. That is what this book does. It leaves you to make up your mind, and it does it not out of laziness. Some readers have been disappointed by the ending. I thought it was great. In one respect it answered everything and yet, in another respect, left me wondering about whether it was a definite answer or not.
Life of Pi falls into a small group of things that are surprising in their brilliance. The film "Buried" is another, where the director managed to make ninety minutes of a man in a buried coffin with just a lighter and a phone compulsive viewing. Another film, "Lebanon", is similar. The entire film is viewed from the confines of a tank with its four occupants trying to get away from trouble after taking a wrong turn. In a similar, but also unique way, Life of Pi also turns a cramped scene into a fantastic story. Those who read this book will remember it for a long time afterwards. It has certainly gone down as one of the greatest books I have ever read.
Stunning! The best 20p I am ever likely to spend.
Then I got to the part where he's in the boat and this is where I found the story start to drag and get unbelievable. I was ready to give up at this point but realised I was nearly half way through the book and since I'd read that far I might as well finish. This was where I started skip reading chapters, although some were good and I would read the whole chapter, some were just repetitive, boring and off no relevance in my opinion.
Eventually reading the whole book, the only emotion I felt was relief it was over! I wasn't sure where everyone was getting this thought provoking from, it didn't produce any in me except how did it get so many good reviews! I felt the ending was a let down and too contrived. The only reason it has 2 stars except 1 is that some chapters were an interesting read.