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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life unlike any other
Yann Martel's novel takes us from a small community in India to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, where a boy and a tiger share a lifeboat and develop, if not a friendship, a unique understanding of one another. The novel begins slowly and I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, but I also couldn't put it down, especially once on the high seas. Like any seafaring tale, it...
Published on Nov. 4 2002 by Michael Cox

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not so magic realism
In the book jacket one of the reviewers compares this book to the works of Magic Realism. I myself find that comparison erroneous and offensive.
The book is charming and well written, but it is a lot more "A Beautiful Mind" than any magic realism. That the character does not have a solid ground on truth is already exhibited by the premise that one may...
Published on Oct. 25 2003 by Aurelio


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life unlike any other, Nov. 4 2002
By 
Michael Cox "Michael JS Cox" (Vancouver, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Life of Pi (Paperback)
Yann Martel's novel takes us from a small community in India to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, where a boy and a tiger share a lifeboat and develop, if not a friendship, a unique understanding of one another. The novel begins slowly and I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, but I also couldn't put it down, especially once on the high seas. Like any seafaring tale, it may be "tall" in parts, and you can, if you wish, choose to believe an alternate story provided for you near the end, but I prefer the taller of the two tales, and was bleary-eyed but well rewarded for reading it in one long sitting.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful piece of literature!, Dec 5 2002
By 
Dan Goddard (Olds, Alberta Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Life of Pi (Paperback)
This is one of the most powerful novels I have ever read. It begins with a section that builds up the main character flawlessly. Then it shifts to wonderfully written story of survival, exploring almost every angle of human nature in the face of adversity. It delves into relationships in the most interesting of ways, and makes one think twice about their own. The third and final section of the book brings a bit of a twist in the plot; it left me enjoying the book in it's entirity even more. It is one of those feel good books, which I could not put down.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and symbolic - I loved this book, May 30 2002
By 
This review is from: Life of Pi (Hardcover)
I read between 50 and 80 books a year and it is the rare novel that does not disappoint me on some level. This book never let me down, I was never bored and I never felt the author cheated or left loose ends. The language was simple and lyrical but full of symbolism and symmetry. I loved the main character's honesty and optimism and his simple will to survive. Above all I loved the choice of an alternate ending, neither story is a perfect fit leaving the reader the choice to make up their own mind. I laughed, I cried and I'm recommending it to everyone I know.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb adventure; A survivor-guide's companion!, Nov. 15 2002
By 
This review is from: Life of Pi (Paperback)
For many immigrants who arrived in Canada, a new life of economic prosperity seems to be the beacon that attracted them. However, for some smaller number of immigrants, like myself, arriving here felt like a happy chapter of a life mostly blanketed with sorrow, loneliness and utter helplessness. I had never read a book that related so well with my past. As you read it, you will be taken on an incredible adventure that out does many if not all "castaway" movies and stories you may have seen or read. We may have read about survivors floating on a lifeboat after loosing their entire family to a ship accident and encountering all kinds of terrible things and places, some funny some deadly. Here, it is not these that matter. What matters in Mr. Martel's “Life of Pi” is how can we all discover, like Martel’s young hero Piscene Molitor Patel (Pi) does, that deep in each of us there really is God, Allah, Yahweh, Love, Hope, Christianity, Islam, Szerelem (Hungarian), Sevgi ve Umut (Turkish), Amal (Arabic), Arzu (Farsi), or whatever else your label may be, its a Good Thing. As I started the book, excitement of a beautiful spring rain bathed my senses, as I turned to the last page, I wept tears of joy. I will read this book again. I recommend that you do too. You will be surprised how much goodness you have inside. Take this book with you on your next voyage (beyond your supermarket, city, town, country), it will not only keep you company like Richard Parker does Pi, but it well help you go on living even if life seems to have handed out it last thread of hope.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not so magic realism, Oct. 25 2003
This review is from: Life of Pi (Paperback)
In the book jacket one of the reviewers compares this book to the works of Magic Realism. I myself find that comparison erroneous and offensive.
The book is charming and well written, but it is a lot more "A Beautiful Mind" than any magic realism. That the character does not have a solid ground on truth is already exhibited by the premise that one may combine all three major religions, please God equally as it were. That would only be possible by disassociating himself from the true demands of any faith, by separating the Christian in oneself from the hindu, etc. How schizophrenic is that?
Then there is the matter of how the rest of the story goes. Yes, perhaps a necessary way in which the character manages to cope with a horrible reality... none of the faiths seem to work, because none of them is truly accepted ... thus, something else needs to be invented, this communion with the animals.
A story that makes you believe in God? Hardly, perhaps a new-age type of deity that pleases neither God nor man.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story telling of an unbelievable story, May 11 2011
By 
Melissa (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Life of Pi (Paperback)
A 16 year-old Indian boy, Pi Patel, is travelling to Canada with his family and the majority of his father's zoo animals when their cargo ship sinks. The only human survivor, Pi must survive the high seas while stuck in a life boat with a zebra, hyena, orangutan, and Bengal tiger. This was a very original story, absurd and really stretching the boundaries of my imagination, but the writing made me a believer. I found Pi's voice to be engaging ' at times, a little over-descriptive, especially about the gruesome details of killing animals and fish, but still very endearing.

I really liked the ending of the book, particularly the last few chapters; it made me critically analyze the entire novel and see all the events from a new perspective. This is one of those books that, after you have read the last page, require time to digest before moving on to another book. I almost liked the book more after I had finished it than I did while I was reading it. Overall, recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing modern fable, Oct. 6 2006
By 
Mark Wakely (Lombard, Illinois) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Life of Pi (Mass Market Paperback)
This novel works best when viewed not as a possibility- like most modern fiction- but as a fable, with the events exaggerated and elements of the fantastic present. Only then is it possible to accept the improbable here, and see the story as a clever means of conveying lessons about religion and faith. Like religious belief, Martel wants us to make a leap of faith with him, and consider the ramifications of the story he's telling rather than argue the details. On that level, the book is brilliant, and raises some important ideas that are worth mulling over when the book is done.

-Mark Wakely, author of An Audience for Einstein
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bugga-boo, Oct. 23 2004
This review is from: Life of Pi (Hardcover)
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.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Life of Pi, Oct. 15 2005
This review is from: Life of Pi (Paperback)
I finished reading Yann Martel's 'The Life of Pi' a few days ago, and I'm clearly at least three years too late. With all the hype heaped on the book after it won the prestigious Booker Prize, and the reams of rave reviews (from Canada and around the world) that followed, I expected something pretty good. What I found was a decent novel, but nothing spectacular or important. Sure, coming from the Canadian literary environment dominated by Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro, 'The Life of Pi' was a fresh and exciting find. It was unexpected. But now that the freshness has worn off, and the novel's main conceit has been dispersed all around the internet, it's painfully clear that Martel's book isn't anything special.
The main flaw of 'The Life of Pi' is obvious to anyone who's read the book, regardless of whether they want to admit it or not. There simply isn't enough story, character or idea to fill a novel. 'The Life of Pi' is based on one gimmick and has only one developed character. And despite an overlong beginning that tries to flesh things out, it's all too clear that you're only reading the novel for its final third. The rest is filler and, while sometimes interesting (the parts on animal behaviour and zoos are fun to read), seems to be there only because, well, other books have beginnings and no one will buy a sixty-page novel. In a cruel twist, the best-written and most rewarding part of the first half of the book is the prologue, in the neat form of an author's note.
Another problem is the writing style. Martel writes literature in a way that calls attention to itself as literature, instead of just telling a story. As a result, too many parts of the novel are self-important and wordy. It's a good thing that he has talent then, because sometimes his style works, and the book starts to flow and becomes a pleasure to read. These moments are just too rare to elevate the thin story.
But whatever Martel's shortcomings, 'The Life of Pi' is still eons ahead of most of the hackery that sells like mad these days (I'm looking at you, Dan Brown!). It's a mildly fascinating (and surprisingly gruesome) tale of survival on the high seas that manages to weave religion, science fiction and day-to-day monotony into something that is ultimately thematically rich. However, unlike the old Indian character who claims he can tell a story that will make someone believe in God, Martel's story is more about the role of stories, legends and myths in a society that is leaning evermore toward cold, boring facts than a discussion of religion. It is as a parable about the need for embellishment and imagination that 'The Life of Pi' is most successful and valuable.
Jesus, Mary, Mohammed and Vishnu bless Yann Martel for that.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as original as I thought, Oct. 10 2003
By 
Rosemary Kennedy (Toronto, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Life of Pi (Paperback)
When I first heard about Life of Pi I couldn't conceive of how the author would work the story out in a believable way ... a young man adrift with a Bengal tiger. I thought "Ha! he'd last about 5 minutes." The way that Martel works it out seemed completely brilliant, and I loved the book. I would have given it 5 stars without question.
Then someone asked me if I had read Moacyr Scliar's book, "Max and the Cats." I got a copy and read it.
It's a clever, well told tale and quick read. And now I'd say Yann Martel owes an equal portion of the Man Booker Prize to Moacyr Scliar. The latter provides not only the fruit of an idea, but the very architecture for Martel's story. In a way, I'm disappointed. I was left wondering where inspiration leaves off and plagiarism begins. I thought "Life of Pi" was a truly original and inspiring story ... now I find that it wasn't.
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Life of Pi
Life of Pi by Yann Martel (Paperback - Oct. 10 2002)
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