Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi by Yann Martelfour-stars

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
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Published by Harcourt on May 3, 2004
Genres: Adventure, Classic
Pages: 401

Audiobook Narrator: Vikas Adam
Audiobook Length: 12 Hours and 53 Minutes

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Pi Patel is an unusual boy. The son of a zookeeper, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior, a fervent love of stories, and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Christianity and Islam. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes. The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional-but is it more true?
Life of Pi is at once a realistic, rousing adventure and a meta-tale of survival that explores the redemptive power of storytelling and the transformative nature of fiction. It's a story, as one character puts it, to make you believe in God.

This makes a great read-aloud if everyone in the room can handle the horrific gory details.

I first saw the movie a few years ago after my daughter read the book and wanted to see it. I decided to wait a while to read it so I could forget a lot of details. I read a lot, so that part was easy.

I decided to add this book to my read-aloud pile for reading to my husband. We both enjoyed this story immensely, and I’ll go into detail in just a second. I’ll be rewatching the movie with him since he’s never seen it. He’s in for such a treat. I actually like the movie more than the book, which is one of those rare occasions.

After reading about a fourth of the book, I almost put it down and refused to finish it. I was getting bogged down by the details and bored to death. I’m kind of surprised I’m giving this four stars, but I was smiling SO BIG when I closed the book for the last time that it really does deserve it. Once the action really begins somewhere around the halfway point, it all became worth it for me. I’m not certain what kept me going until then. I guess it was having seen the movie and knowing more interesting things were coming.

My favorite part about this book is that, from the beginning, we know that Pi Patel is going to survive. That’s a given. That’s also not a spoiler. I’d never do that. You know that very early in the book. So with every challenge that Pi faces, we know he will come out the victor and somehow end up in Canada.

Prepare to wonder if your own head is on straight. Or just let it all go and believe a fantastical tale. That’s what I did.


About Yann Martel

Yann Martel is the author of Life of Pi, the #1 international bestseller and winner of the 2002 Man Booker (among many other prizes). He is also the award-winning author of The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios (winner of the Journey Prize), SelfBeatrice & Virgil, and 101 Letters to a Prime Minister. Born in Spain in 1963, Martel studied philosophy at Trent University, worked at odd jobs—tree planter, dishwasher, security guard—and traveled widely before turning to writing. He lives in Saskatoon, Canada, with the writer Alice Kuipers and their four children.

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