Life of Pi

Monday, October 15, 2012

I don't normally write book reviews, but I just finished reading Life of Pi, and it was riveting.

Life of Pi would probably be classified as young adult fiction, but older adults will enjoy it, too. It contains very little sex or language, but it is not for the squeamish.

The story has two narrators. The first is the author, who describes how he came to know the grown-up Pi and learn his story. The main narrator, however, is Pi himself. Or, more accurately, Piscine Molitor Patel.

Pi's story starts when he is a young boy growing up in India, where his father owns a zoo. During the first part of the book, we become acquainted with Pi and his family. This section is also a course in zoology and a study of three religions: Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. The religious thread makes for a fascinating philosophical discussion that holds our interest because of the way the three religions intersect in Pi's life. Although Pi doesn't resolve the issue the way the Bible does, it is a thought-provoking read that will make Christians reflect upon their faith.

The main part of the story begins when Pi's father decides to sell his zoo and move his family to Canada. Most of the animals have been sold to zoos in the United States, so Pi, his parents, and his older brother board a Japanese freighter that Pi's father has hired to transport them and the animals to North America.*

The freighter sinks in the middle of the ocean, and Pi ends up in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. The real adventure begins as Pi struggles to survive.

Canadian author Yann Martel is an artist with words. While reading the novel, I clearly saw the power of nature and experienced Pi's limited but often terrifying world.

The movie is coming on November 21. It has the potential for wonderful cinematography, but even the best cinematographer can't match the word pictures Martel paints in the pages of his novel.

I'll wait for the reviews before I decide whether to see the movie. From the trailer, it looks like the script may have added a love story, and that makes me wonder what else it changed. It wouldn't bother me if they eliminated the religious thread at the beginning of the story since that wouldn't translate well onto the screen. But if they changed the surprise ending, that would spoil everything. I'm not talking about the fact that Pi survives: we know that from the beginning. But the ending is one of the things that makes this a great story.

So don't wait for the movie. Read the book and discover the ending for yourself.

* The picture shows a car ferry that operates on Lake Michigan, and it is probably nothing like the cargo ship Pi and his parents left India on. But I don't have any tigers or ocean freighters among my photo library, so it's the best I could do without violating someone's copyright.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the introdution. It's great book! (Helena)

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