Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

Cover ImageFinished 8-24-11, rating 4/5, fiction, 319 pages, pub. 2001

I must say a word about fear.  It is life’s only true opponent.  Only fear can defeat life.  It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know.  It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy.  It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease.  It begins in your mind, always. 

Chapter 56

Pi, an Indian teenager, was raised by loving parents who ran a zoo.  He didn’t feel like he had to choose between religions, he studied them all.  He was a Hindu, Christian, and Muslim and no one could convince him this was contradictory.  When his family decided it was best to leave India, they packed up all of the animals (the ones they didn’t sell) and headed for Canada.  They didn’t make it.

Pi finds himself in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with Richard Parker.  Richard Parker is a 450 pound Bengal tiger.  Day after day he must work to survive,  and his only chance is to keep Richard Parker alive too.  From early on you know that Pi is at sea a very long time, but you also know that he survives, so it isn’t that uncertainty that keeps you reading.  The day-to-day struggle is compelling and outrageous.   If you are taking an ocean voyage this book will teach you everything you need to know about staying alive.

This is a consideration of religion, a compassionate view of zoos, and at some points, a test of your ability to listen to/read about savagery of killing, even of only for food.  I listened to the first half of this one on a road trip with Jason and Gage and read the print for the rest.   I have nothing against the audio, but I much preferred reading it.  The play-by-play of animals ripping each other apart is much easier to read than to hear.  Not that this book can be reduced to that, only that’s what made the reading more enjoyable for me.  It is a book about belief and how what you believe can make your life meaningful and livable.

I really loved Pi’s story and grew to love Richard Parker too.  I was nervous that RP would meet the same fate as Wilson in the movie Castaway and I was very nervous for him.  I won’t spoil it by telling you.  I wasn’t crazy about the ending.  Jason loved it.  I’m not sure if my opinion will change after it’s had some time to settle.  I know I’ll be thinking about it for the next several days, but these are my initial thoughts.  The imagery was beautiful and obviously thought-provoking since I know I will be thinking about it, re-evaluating the whole based on the end.


This is from my personal library and chosen by Heather (Gofita’s Pages), Carol, Staci, MsMazzola, Heather (Book Addiction), Kerri, Alita, Julie, Rebecca and Rhapsody in Books.  Here’s what they had to say…

“It will blow you away.”  Rhapsody in Books

“I thought I was the only one left who hasn’t read it yet!”  Julie

“Some people didn’t like the unexpected ending, but I did and I would love to see what you think, too.”  Rebecca

“I’m going to attempt it next year as well”  Kerri

“It is on my TBR list, so I put it on your’s too.”  MsMazzola

“My brother bought it for me and I never read it, but encouraging you to relieves some of the guilt.”  Carol

“It’s on my TBR pile and I hear it’s amazing!”  Heather (Gofita’s Pages)