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.
“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?