Life of Pi Paperback – Oct. 10 2002
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- Paperback : 356 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0676973779
- Item Weight : 318 g
- ISBN-13 : 978-0676973778
- Dimensions : 13.08 x 1.93 x 20.32 cm
- Publisher : Vintage Canada; Revised edition (Oct. 10 2002)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #17,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Most of these animals are doomed, but Pi and Richard Parker cling to life, establishing a tacit order on the lifeboat. Martel handles this part of the story perfectly: one would expect Life of Pi to become cute, or perhaps preachy, but it is neither. Life on the boat proceeds in strict accordance with the rules of ecology and territorialism, and the interdependence of the passengers is both believable and absorbing. Life of Pi is a superb novel, both for its story and for its rich examinations of religion, isolation, and love. If this is an indication of what is to come, we can expect great things from Yann Martel. --Jack Illingworth
“In the end, Life of Pi may not, as its teller promises, persuade readers to believe in God, but it makes a fine argument for the divinity of good art.” -- Noel Rieder, The Gazette (Montreal)
“Martel’s latest literary offering, Life of Pi, is an exquisitely crafted tale that could be described as a castaway adventure story cum allegory.” -- The Gazette (Montreal)
“Life of Pi…is about many things -- religion, zoology, fear -- but most of all, it’s about sheer tenacity. Martel has created a funny, wise and highliy original look at what it means to be human.” -- Chatelaine
“In many ways, Life of Pi is a good old-fashioned boy’s book full of survival, cannibalism, horror, math and zoology. An impressive marriage of The Jungle Book with Lord of the Flies, it’s the harrowing coming of age tale of a boy who survives for over a year in a lifeboat with a zebra, an organgutan, an hyena and a Bengal tiger.” -- The Montreal Mirror
“A good story can make you see, understand and believe, and Martel is a very good storyteller. Martel displays an impresive knowledge of language, history, religion and literature, and his writing is filled with details and insights.” -- The Canadian Press
“[Life of Pi] has a buoyant, exotic, insistence reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s most Gothic fiction…Oddities abound and the storytelling is first-rate. Yann Martel has written a novel full of grisly reality, outlandish plot, inventive setting and thought-provoking questions about the value and purpose of fiction. This novel should float.” -- The Edmonton Journal
“I guarantee that you will not be able to put this book down. It is a realistic, gripping story of survival at sea. On one level, the book is a suspenseful adventure story, a demonstration of how extreme need alters a man’s character…. On another level, this is a profound meditation on the role of religion in human life and the nature of animals, wild and human. His language…is vivid and striking. His imagination if powerful, his range enormous, his capacity for persuasion almost limitless. I predict that Yann Martel will develop into one of Canada’s great writers." -- The Hamilton Spectator
“[M]artel’s writing is so original you might think he wants you to read as if, like a perfect snowflake, no other book had ever had this form…. In Pi one gleans that faith -- one of the most ephemeral emotions, yet crucial whenever life is one the line -- is rooted in the will to live. In any event, when Pi does come to the end of his journey, he has it.” -- National Post
“[A]stounding and beautiful…The book is a pleasure not only for the subtleties of its philosophy but also for its ingenious and surprising story. Martel is a confident, heartfelt artist, and his imagination is cared for in a writing style that is both unmistakable and marvelously reserved. The ending of Life of Pi…is a show of such sophisticated genius that I could scarcely keep my eyes in my head as I read it.” -- The Vancouver Sun
"A fabulous romp through an imagination by turns ecstatic, cunning, despairing and resilient, this novel is an impressive achievement -- "a story that will make you believe in God," as one character says.... This richly patterned work, Martel's second novel, won Canada's 2001 Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction . In it, Martel displays the clever voice and tremendous storytelling skills of an emerging master.
FYI: Booksellers would be wise to advise readers to browse through Martel's introductory note. His captivating honesty about the genesis of his story is almost worth the price of the book itself." -- Publisher's Weekly
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Top reviews from Canada
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Though I really respect the author for doing his research thoroughly (this adds a lot of authenticity to the book), the story itself was rather dull. Every single detail in the book was included in the movie. I learned nothing more by reading the book. In fact, the first part of the book (roughly 100 pages) were so boring I almost stopped reading a dozen times. But I forced myself to keep going. I regretted it more with every turn of a page. The story was dull and uneventful. Without the visual aspect, which is what I loved about the film, the story fell flat.
Perhaps this would have been an acceptable read had I not seen the movie, but the movie was so much better than the book that reading it felt like a complete waste of time. If you enjoy introspective books where not much happens, then you may enjoy this book. If not, avoid it like the plague, especially if you saw the movie.
In his story of fantasy, the author shows that the human spirit can adjust to any and all conditions and still survive and, at times, even thrive. While the protagonist lives in India he is the son of a zoo keeper and, being so, has the means to develop his religious life. He does so by belonging to three different religions at the same time. When the well known shipwreck with the tiger occurs he must shift his focus of ethereal living to that of mere survival. He must learn to suffer pain and extreme suffering, feed his instinctual hungers, defend himself from the varying forces around him and seek the safest position(s), both literally and figuratively, in order to survive. Fantasies and delirium eventually force him to face his irrationalities and to escape before they overtake him. And, finally, with his recontact with civilization he needs to refuse to do what the predetermined investigators expect him to do and, by doing so, leaves with his full ego intact while satisfying their needs at the same time.
While the allegory of this book is very compelling, I feel that because of the author's innate writing ability a masterpiece could have been written by approaching these issues in a different manner. Instead, we are left with only a well painted house but no masterpiece. None of us, no matter how well educated we are nor how many books we have read, enjoy reading about the 'entrails of life itself'. Death of human and animal life, cannibalism, excrement, urine-marking, and rotting decay are not pleasant topics to peruse in order to understand the author's symbolism. And lastly, even in fairly tales and stories of pure fantasy, consistency of plot and events is a necessity. This one fails in that area a few too many times. I feel that the author, because of his abilities, has tremendous innate capabilities. Please, next time, I hope that he focuses on a more palatable storyline to follow.
Top reviews from other countries
Too many books I've come across lately lack any emotional or philosophical depth, so it was lovely to read something so whimsical and heart-felt. The story is incredibly simple - a boy survives a ship wreck and finds himself on a lifeboat with a bengal tiger - which leaves a LOT of room for emotional and philosophical exploration. Probably too much room.
It opens wonderfully, painting an imaginative and technicolour picture of Pi's life and family that draws you into his world. Sadly, any momentum is then lost in the following tedious exploration of religious context spanning many, many chapters. So the boy worships many gods; a funny joke told too many times, before the punchline is explained in excruciating detail.
Once castaway, the story picks up again. The first half of this adventure is packed with variety and answers to those "what if" questions that naturally spring to mind. After a while, though, it just gets boring. I started looking at the progress bar at the bottom of my kindle, willing it to come to an end.
I had mixed feelings about the ending. While I was reading it, I was cursing Martel for dragging it out needlessly. But by the time I'd finished it, I totally understood why he had to.
Ultimately, there are some damp patches throughout, but it starts well and ends well, with a few really nice set-pieces in between. It also leaves you with some great "what do you think really happened" discussion material when it's all over.
The book starts with an "authors note" which places the mood and source of the story. Plenty of seeds are sown here and the spiritual setting is created. Throughout the book we hear more from the author as he gets to find out Pi's story.
Scene setting dominates the first third of the book and Pi is established, then the boat sinks and the story simply starts to fly.
I savoured this book, the writing is beautiful and seems to demand that you read it slowly, taking in every word. Pi had an endless amount of time at sea and wants the reader to understand that the progress of time means nothing compared to the compulsion to survive.
Even having seen the film and having fairly high expectations, I was blown away by the relationship between boy and tiger with its simplicity and complexity on many different levels.
We know that Pi survives from the beginning of the book which gives a calm to our experience of his journey and I somehow wanted his progression (physically and spiritually) to continue forever.
The book is full of wonderful quotes but one of my favourites is " Fiction is the selective transforming of reality" - somehow seems to sum up this book wonderfully.
How foolish I was.
Life of Pi is an extraordinary 3D adventure.
It is a film I will forever remember.
With astonishing visual effects, showing what it means to be human, and a remarkable storyline between the two central characters, Life of Pi is unquestionably a great film.
I fully recommend this film for it is so much more than a film.
It is an experience.
Then I started reading it.
My opinion was slowly changed over the first few chapters. This book is beautifully written without being pretentious. The author describes scenes and events in a way that makes them easy to imagine and worth picturing in your mind as though you were there. Often a film will outdo a book on the fact that it can show beautiful scenery that can't easily be described in words. If that is the case here then I can't wait to see the film because to outdo the imagery possible from this book it will need to be spectacular.
The first third of the book builds up the character of Piscine (Pi) and often goes into details of religion. It never goes so far as to preach in any way though. It doesn't say that any one religion is, overall, better than any other. It is even funny when an argument breaks out regarding the subject. I am atheist but I am also fascinated by religion so maybe that was why I didn't find this section of the story boring. I can, however, see why some people would and would only urge them to persevere because the book picks up considerably afterwards.
The idea of a boy being stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger and a few other animals sounds ridiculous. That someone could write a book based on this event and make it interesting is almost unbelievable. How can you write so much about such a small group of characters trapped in a miniscule almost featureless setting and keep people from falling asleep? I had wondered whether all of the animals would start talking because I went into this book with no idea of how the characters interacted with each other. The answer again lies in the authors ability to describe everything so amazingly well. Whether it is about the confines and yet territorially broken up small boat, the vast emptiness of the ocean, the beauty and terror of the weather, the despair of being alone, the elation of discovering a way to continue surviving, or the fear of, and respect for, a 450 pound tiger, it is stunningly written.
Different people will interpret the words in different ways too. Some will read it is an adventure with a bit of survival ingenuity thrown in; some might read it as a kind of spiritual journey giving events a religious meaning; others could interpret it as a view of life itself. The way it is written means that there will be different parts where readers suddenly think, "Ahhhh! So that's what the author is trying to say." I personally had my moment of realisation, (I won't say at what point), and saw it as an interpretation of life. Everyone has there own little area in a vast world, with their own hopes and fears, their own limited provisions, their own moments of suddenly working out how to do something, their own loneliness and their own dark times and light times. You may read it and find some other explanation. That is what this book does. It leaves you to make up your mind, and it does it not out of laziness. Some readers have been disappointed by the ending. I thought it was great. In one respect it answered everything and yet, in another respect, left me wondering about whether it was a definite answer or not.
Life of Pi falls into a small group of things that are surprising in their brilliance. The film "Buried" is another, where the director managed to make ninety minutes of a man in a buried coffin with just a lighter and a phone compulsive viewing. Another film, "Lebanon", is similar. The entire film is viewed from the confines of a tank with its four occupants trying to get away from trouble after taking a wrong turn. In a similar, but also unique way, Life of Pi also turns a cramped scene into a fantastic story. Those who read this book will remember it for a long time afterwards. It has certainly gone down as one of the greatest books I have ever read.
Stunning! The best 20p I am ever likely to spend.
Then I got to the part where he's in the boat and this is where I found the story start to drag and get unbelievable. I was ready to give up at this point but realised I was nearly half way through the book and since I'd read that far I might as well finish. This was where I started skip reading chapters, although some were good and I would read the whole chapter, some were just repetitive, boring and off no relevance in my opinion.
Eventually reading the whole book, the only emotion I felt was relief it was over! I wasn't sure where everyone was getting this thought provoking from, it didn't produce any in me except how did it get so many good reviews! I felt the ending was a let down and too contrived. The only reason it has 2 stars except 1 is that some chapters were an interesting read.