Book Review: The Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

Synopsis: 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.

Number of pages: 464

Rating: 10/10

Overall Impression: Compelling, thought-provoking and unbelievable. I opened this book with little to no idea what it was about, and it weaves an unimaginable tale of hope and faith, but with none of the pretention of the award-winning book it is.
Life of Pi

It was by chance that I started reading this book. Last Christmas, I downloaded it as part of the iTunes 12 Days of Christmas giveaway. Due to boredom one day at work, I started reading it. And I'm glad I did.

Normally, when I choose a book to read, I already have some idea what it's about, what others have said about it etc., but with this, I went in blind. At the start of reading, I didn't even know they were making a film about it. So, safe to say, I had no idea what was going to happen. Apart from, there might be a tiger in a boat involved. After my enjoyment of this book, I think I need to go into books blind more often!

It reads very much like a diary: it's in first person, and has a 'stream of consciousness' style of writing. I found this very compelling and easy to read.

Piscine, or Pi's exploration of faith was fascinating and so refreshing. Pi becomes a believer of three religions: Islam, Christianity and Hinduism. To the majority of people, it seems contradictory to believe in three religions as Pi does, but he takes the teachings from each and almost sort of moulds them into his own religious fusion. He shows that religion is a fluid thing, that it is what you make of it.
[...] 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.
His faith(s) is what carries him through the bit of the book that defies belief. His survival, not only from a sinking ship, but of nearly a year in the Pacific Ocean in a lifeboat. With a tiger.

The descriptions and sense of foreboding throughout this part was spectacularly done. It was neither over the top nor undercooked. Everything stands out vividly in the mind's eye. The threat of the tiger turning on Pi is constant, as is the threat of starvation and dehydration. However, the strange co-dependency for each other keeps the first threat on a low simmer. Pi provides food and water for the tiger, while the tiger provides Pi with both company and distraction from his situation.

The change of Pi's mentality over his ordeal is subtle. Initially, Pi is almost cowardly in the way he avoids the tiger, and fussy with what he wants to eat. By the end, Pi is commanding dominance over the tiger and eating anything he can find. The subtlety of the changes was perfectly, believably done.

I really enjoyed The Life of Pi, and I can't wait to see the film. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes something different and something thought-provoking.

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