Top critical review
2 of 2 people found this helpful
on October 23, 2004
I'm not sure what I liked more, the book or the negative reviews. Having spent the last 5 years of my life in undergrad philosophy, Life of Pi didn't offer any new philosophical insights. For those who grasped the point made in the end, it's a rather old argument, but presented in a very colourful story that at first I wasn't able to get into, but then became quite enthralled with.I can't help but wonder if the people who didn't "get it" were distracted when reading. I notice a number of reviews saying the beginning has nothing to do with the middle or end. Not to be vague and blunt, but the beginning is the beginning that leads to the middle and the end. In order to find the significance in the story, simply pay attention to who and what Pi is during his time in India. His devotion to religion and family, the influences of his two friends Kumar and what each represents and the small bits of information into the character of animals and humans.Did the book make me believe in God? Well, no, that would be sort of silly. As someone very non-religious I doubt any book could do that. But I understood its message clearly enough and I even agree with the principle. Especially as its presented in this work, its very moving, something I'm not apt to say often.For the life of me I can't figure the reviews from people who say it has no ending, I'm not sure what more they hoped for, what the thought lacking. I read the ending no less than 6 hours ago, it was clear to me and very appropriate as well. Again, I suspect perhaps some readers were just too distracted or were reading in such a way as to focus only on the hapter at hand without appreciating the whole story as it had been built to that point.In any event, I'd certainly recommend the book. It draws on in some places but more than makes up for it on the whole.Life of Pi was a good story. Not in the sense in that it had plenty of action, lots of violence or contained an exorbitant amount of plot twists but because it contained a very original story, on a setting that has been literarily exhausted over time; the castaway.Despite this, I'm quite surprised that the novel was awarded as much critical acclaim that it has gotten. For a self-toted theological novel, it is quite weak on the religious aspects of Islam, Hinduism and Christianity, of which, I myself am almost totally ignorant of all but the latter. The story didn't show me any insights on the religions themselves or even delve deeply into the finer points each religion in question has, respectively.The bulk of the story, where Pi is adrift, is quite good on the whole. Martel writes in detail almost everything that could possibly effect and affect Pi on his journey and explains how Pi reacts and deals with each situation. It brings a sense of survival that all good castaway stories should have. Yet, at times, I found some of his description confusing. Some of descriptions of the lifeboat and raft interaction were tipsy and left me wondering what it actually was he was writing about.The strongest part of the novel, in which most people should pay close attention to, is the interaction between Pi and Richard Parker. Martel obviously spent a lot of time trying to deal with and plan this relationship throughout the novel and it came off very well in the end. I am not able to say whether or not he accurately portrayed a relationship between different creatures such as these, but his explanations and details were very logical and practical.The novel wasn't difficult to read. The linguistic level of the story wasn't high, there weren't a lot of suggested philosophical points being brought about, you weren't expected to understand adverse emotional troubles between many characters. All the signs of a mainstream novel these days. Despite what many critics and people say, this novel is not the quality of a classic. Yet, Martel may well be on his way to being a fine writer. This, his third novel, is certainly a step up from his previous work, so, keep an eye open for him in the future.