The story really picks up post-shipwreck and has some lovely twists and turns along the way. It's a paean to the survival instincts of the human spirit told through a series of increasingly bizarre and imaginative anecdotes. Wonderfully, everything is thrown askew at the end with a marvellous plot twist that leaves the reader considering the book long after they have finished it.
I read through Life of Pi in a little over two days; it was both enthralling and captivating and is that rare thing in modern art and literature - a positive and hopeful comment on the nature of the human being.
The blurb is somewhat misleading, suggesting that Life of Pi is only about the travails of a boy trapped on a lifeboat with a tiger: in fact there are 100 pages before this main event. But the miracle is that even when restricted to one human character and a twenty-odd foot lifeboat, Martel is never boring, and never resorts to childish anthropormism with the animals either: Pi really does have to survive with a 450-pound Bengal tiger, hungry and uncartoonish and nearby.
Speaking of miracles, the narrator's pushy insistence throughout the book that it will "make you believe in God" is the only chunk of the novel I couldn't quite swallow. There's no godliness whatsoever - unless it's moving in mysteriously subtle ways or something and I'm just too much of an atheistic blockhead to see it - unless you count the instances of Pi praising God when something good happens to interrupt the terrible attrition of life on the lifeboat. And frankly who wouldn't hedge their bets a bit in such a situation?Read more ›
Despite the sea voyage being, quite rightly, the important part of the book I found myself enjoying the 100 or so pages leading up to it just as much. The self-description of Pi's life in India was wonderful and packed with discoveries for the reader. It actually came as a bit of a disappointment when he got on the ship for Canada.
The book's write-up provided the main appeal for me, especially the assertion that it would make you believe in God. Well, as it turned out that was a bit ambitious, but I did draw great comfort from Pi's acceptance and practice of different faiths.
The secrets for me were the simplicity of the writing and the way I was drawn out of myself to a calmer, less complicated place.
It wasn't a book that I thought back on longingly for days and weeks afterwards, but at the time of reading it I did travel to a special place.