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on November 4, 2002
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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on December 5, 2002
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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on May 30, 2002
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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While I would give the author's writing ability a "5", and his use of symbolism a "4", the storyline itself only receives a "1". I view the writing of this novel as similar to asking Rembrandt, himself, to paint your house. He may do an exquisite job but it will still only be a house and never the masterpiece that you had hoped for.

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.
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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.
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on May 11, 2011
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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on May 19, 2002
"Life of Pi" is a lovely, intelligent and unique novel - one of the best I've read in a while.
Though I found Pi's views on the lives of zoo animals a bit off (in fact they made me not WANT to like the book!), he is an incredibly endearing, smart character whom I could not help respecting and rooting for. He is a teenage boy - a practicing Christian, Muslim AND Hindu (all at the same time - much to the consternation of his family and various religious mentors)who escapes a sinking ship in a lifeboat shared by an orangutan, a hyena and a tiger.
Pi and the tiger survive for 227 amazing days in the lifeboat (during which they make an amazing 'botanical' discovery worthy of Star-Trek in its Mr. Spock days) before landing on the coast of Mexico. There Pi provides the authorities two different explanations for his amazing survival.
It's up to you to decide which one is true...
Really worth reading, "Life of Pi" stands out brightly amongst the novels I've read in the past few years, and I'll be recommending it for years to come.
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on January 1, 2003
My son loves this book simply as a fairy tale. But, for us adults, if we look between the lines, there is alot more depth than a charming story. And alot of it is spiritual in nature. My favorite spiritual book that I would recommend is, I Talked To God And He Wants To Talk To You. It is the best book ever and I would be remiss if I didn't mention it here. Yet, The Life of Pi rates right up there with my favorite spiritual inspiration.
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on February 27, 2003
I felt this novel started out a bit light-hearted, an easy read that holds your attention right from the beginning. It is humor-filled, informative and gives very definitive opinions without feeling preachy. This is a well-spun yarn that keeps you thinking that maybe there is some factual basis for this fictional story. The tone changes quite a bit during the shipwreck scene with very graphic descriptions that make an already active imagination go into overdrive. It may not be a good idea to read that part of the book just before sleeping. By the end of the novel, I just thought, "Wow." There's no other way to describe it. It's a very riveting novel that reels you in from the get-go and it's almost impossible to put down until you're finished. I really enjoyed it. If you're looking for something to divert your mind from the mundane concerns of life, this is the book to pick up.
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on October 6, 2006
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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