Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review: Life of Pi by Yann Martel

still shot from the movie via
Reviewed by Connie

Published: 2001

It's about: Growing up in Pondicherry, India, Piscine Molitor Patel -- known as Pi -- has a rich life. The son of a zoo keeper, Pi is exposed to all types of animals at an early age. He also comes to expose himself to various religions and ends up becoming a Christian, a Hindu, and a Muslim all at once. When Pi is 16, political upheaval drives his father to sell his zoo and move the family to Canada. When the boat carrying his family and many of the zoo animals sinks in the middle of the Pacific ocean, Pi finds himself on a lifeboat as the only human survivor -- though he is not alone. With him are a hyena, a wounded zebra, an orangutan, and a Bengal tiger. If Pi is to survive, he must learn to coexist with this deadly foe.

I thought: I read this book many years ago and didn't remember much about it except that I really enjoyed it. When I reread it last week for my book group, it blew me away even more than it did the first time.

Not only is this a well-written, magical, and magnificent tale, but it's one of those books that gets you thinking, and thinking, and thinking. There are so many themes wonderfully touched on as to incite discussion and analysis, such as religion and spirituality, fear, survival, truth vs fiction, the nature of stories, and the nature of life.

It is at once adventurous, inspiring, and sad. And I think it will make a fantastic movie (which comes to theaters today -- go see it!). As a matter of fact, back in April of 2011, I listed Life of Pi in my Top 10 Books I'd Like to See as Movies. Based on the previews and the overwhelmingly positive reviews, I know I won't be disappointed.

Verdict: Stick it on the shelf

Reading Recommendations: I would recommend reading this book with another person, because you will be so blown away, you will NEED to discuss it with someone.

Warnings: none

Favorite excerpts:
"It was my first clue that atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith, and every word they speak speaks of faith. Like me, they go as far as the legs of reason will carry them -- and then they leap. I'll be honest about it. It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while. We must all pass through the garden of Gethsemane. If Christ played with doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”

"Hindus, in their capacity for love, are indeed hairless Christians, just as Muslims, in the way they see God in everything, are bearded Hindus, and Christians, in their devotion to God, are hat wearing Muslims.”

What I'm reading next: Judging a Book By its Lover by Lauren Leto