Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Book Review

Book Review of Life of Pi: 2 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Mariner Books; Int Mti edition (October 2, 2012), Paperback: 416 pages, ISBN-10: 0544045203, ISBN-13: 978-0544045200

In Life of Pi a young Indian boy becomes lost at sea after his ship sinks in the Pacific Ocean during his family’s journey from Indian to Canada. For 227 days he lives in a lifeboat, and his sole companion is a Bengal tiger.

Yann Martel has written several novels, but Life of Pi is his most well known book, and this book has also won several awards.  It is written in the genre of magical realism and is an adventure story. The story is told primarily in a first person narrative from the point of view of our main protagonist, Pi Patel.

The author’s note at the beginning of the book convinced me I was reading a true story, and it wasn’t until I was about half way through the book did I come to realize that this note was part of the fiction. The story is told in a format that suggests it is a retelling of a true adventure, including italicized notes at the beginning of some of the chapters.

The story is told in three parts.  The first part introduces the main character and develops the premise which explains how Pi could eventually exist alone on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. This part takes place during Pi’s early years when his father ran a zoo. There were some interesting comparisons between animals and humans. The second part is his time at sea, and the final part introduces a possible alternative.

This is a spiritual story, and Pi Patel has a strong faith, which he relies on heavily during his trials at sea, but it is not religious or sanctimonious. Overall I thought the story was told in an interesting manner, and generally found it believable. The Life of Pi is a standalone story, and it is well told, although both the beginning and the time at sea were a bit too long.  I recommend this book as a good read.

Favourite Quote:

“To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experience of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephew, creatures to people the tree of your life and give it new branches. To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports it branches. To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you.”

Question to ponder:

Which version of the story did you think really occurred?

What did you feel was the most spiritual or mystical part of the journey?


To Purchase: “Life of Pi” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

3 thoughts on “Life of Pi by Yann Martel”

  1. Although I know this is a novel, and not a true story, I found the journey with the tiger to be totally believeable. So in the end, when Pi gives a different version of the story; I felt it was just to placify the insurance people.

    To me the second story was too sad and depressing


  2. The algae island was the most mystical part of the journey for me. He landed there and was happy to make it his home, but it was not really a good place for him to stay. He was still all alone, and if the island had remained a safe place for him, I think he would probably still be there.

    The island is a metaphor for people staying in their comfort zones, even when it is not the best place for them to be.

    The island represents the challenges that come up in life and force onto something better.


  3. I thought the island was the most mystical part of the book. Pi was happy and contented there and would have stayed indefinately, and it wasn’t until he learned the truth about the island that he was forced to leave.

    To me, this is a metaphor for life. Often in life we do not make any changes until we are forced to. For example getting fired from a job or finding out your partner is cheating on you. When these things occur, at first we think it is the worst thing to happen, but once we react and make changes in our life, then something better comes along and we realize it was the best thing that could have happened.


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