Life of Pi by Yann Martel

One boy - one boat - one tiger...
After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild, blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a zebra with a broken leg, a female orang-utan - and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary works of fiction in recent years.

This is the book of the year, so far, for me.

I loved this book. It touched something inside me and I loved every moment of it.
I watched the film a while after reading it and while I can admit that it's a pretty film with lovely colours - I was so disappointed. For me it warps the core of the story and what Pi is trying to say. I understand it's a very difficult book to filmatize, but it really let me down. The actor, Suraj Sharma, did brilliantly and the CGI tiger was gorgeous, but it lacked the essence of the book, the feelings it woke in me. To anyone who watched the film and loved it, but haven't read the book; I urge you to read it and invite in an even bigger experience.

I struggle to describe my thoughts on the book, some of them are very primal - Pi's story of survival is so wild and so amazing, but it's also so real that I couldn't help but wonder if it could have really happened. The third part of the book with its final few chapters add such a bitter-sweet twist it almost brought tears to my eyes. Pi, be he real or not, was put through endless horrific events and yet he came out the other end stronger than ever.

Life of Pi is amazingly well written. As you read you are drawn in so completely you can feel the sun burning overhead as the salt water soaks the rags your clothes have been reduced to.
I've categorized it as fiction as I reckon it is believable, fantasy because it's fantastic and humour because it made me laugh out loud. Particular the passages where Pi starts coming to grip with the presence of Richard Parker were particular hilarious to me.

It contains both religion and spirituality in such a way that it made me think about the bigger picture and enabled me to understand Pi's feelings and thoughts. Food for thought. It's one of those stunning books that don't end as you finish the final chapter; there are many things and issues to contemplate and consider. Rather than being a horror story about the sinking of a ship (something I dreaded, it's one of my bigger fears in life, being stuck on a sinking boat) it's a story about survival. How to survive a ship wreck in a life boat when you have to share it with a bengal tiger.

Life of Pi
ISBN13: 9781847676016
325 pages / published in 2001
Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2013


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