I find some of the negative reviews of this book quite surprising, especially the people who said it is not an easy read. I found that it was a real page turner and I read it in a couple of days. I liked the several different texts / stories within the main story of Beatrice and Virgil, a technique which is often employed by Paul Auster who is one of my favourite writers. I wouldn't say Beatrice and Virgil is as good as Life of Pie but I did actually find B and V easier to read from the onset (I found that it took me a while to get into Pi before it became unputdownable!). When I first saw the animals on the book cover I thought Martel may just be cashing in on the success of Life of Pie, and maybe that was Martel's initial reason for choosing to use animal characters again, however I must say that this book is an altogether different beast (with beast being the operative word). I think Martel achieved what he set out to do in respect of using animal characters instead of humans, in that I think it added to the horror of the ending of Beatrice's and Virgil's story (the play) which I found really quite harrowing and shocking, probably more so than if Martel had used human characters in a more straight-forward holocaust novel (which there are of course so many of already). I felt genuinely upset after reading this book and actually contemplated skipping some scenes because they were so distressing. There was the occasional humorous moment too, especially when Henry's wife makes a "Winnie the Pooh meets the holocaust" comment (it's rare that a book has me in hysterics!). On the whole I found B and V enjoyable and interesting and the type of novel that will no doubt play on my mind for some time.