A great story beautifully written,
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This review is from: Life Of Pi (Kindle Edition)
I only bought this book because it was 20p and was supposed to be good. I really wasn't expecting to like it much. The fact that it had won awards planted a thought in my head that it was going to be a load of arty farty gibberish, that was too clever and fancy for the average person to enjoy. However, if that turned out to be the case then I had only lost 20p and a small amount of time.
Then I started reading it.
My opinion was slowly changed over the first few chapters. This book is beautifully written without being pretentious. The author describes scenes and events in a way that makes them easy to imagine and worth picturing in your mind as though you were there. Often a film will outdo a book on the fact that it can show beautiful scenery that can't easily be described in words. If that is the case here then I can't wait to see the film because to outdo the imagery possible from this book it will need to be spectacular.
The first third of the book builds up the character of Piscine (Pi) and often goes into details of religion. It never goes so far as to preach in any way though. It doesn't say that any one religion is, overall, better than any other. It is even funny when an argument breaks out regarding the subject. I am atheist but I am also fascinated by religion so maybe that was why I didn't find this section of the story boring. I can, however, see why some people would and would only urge them to persevere because the book picks up considerably afterwards.
The idea of a boy being stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger and a few other animals sounds ridiculous. That someone could write a book based on this event and make it interesting is almost unbelievable. How can you write so much about such a small group of characters trapped in a miniscule almost featureless setting and keep people from falling asleep? I had wondered whether all of the animals would start talking because I went into this book with no idea of how the characters interacted with each other. The answer again lies in the authors ability to describe everything so amazingly well. Whether it is about the confines and yet territorially broken up small boat, the vast emptiness of the ocean, the beauty and terror of the weather, the despair of being alone, the elation of discovering a way to continue surviving, or the fear of, and respect for, a 450 pound tiger, it is stunningly written.
Different people will interpret the words in different ways too. Some will read it is an adventure with a bit of survival ingenuity thrown in; some might read it as a kind of spiritual journey giving events a religious meaning; others could interpret it as a view of life itself. The way it is written means that there will be different parts where readers suddenly think, "Ahhhh! So that's what the author is trying to say." I personally had my moment of realisation, (I won't say at what point), and saw it as an interpretation of life. Everyone has there own little area in a vast world, with their own hopes and fears, their own limited provisions, their own moments of suddenly working out how to do something, their own loneliness and their own dark times and light times. You may read it and find some other explanation. That is what this book does. It leaves you to make up your mind, and it does it not out of laziness. Some readers have been disappointed by the ending. I thought it was great. In one respect it answered everything and yet, in another respect, left me wondering about whether it was a definite answer or not.
Life of Pi falls into a small group of things that are surprising in their brilliance. The film "Buried" is another, where the director managed to make ninety minutes of a man in a buried coffin with just a lighter and a phone compulsive viewing. Another film, "Lebanon", is similar. The entire film is viewed from the confines of a tank with its four occupants trying to get away from trouble after taking a wrong turn. In a similar, but also unique way, Life of Pi also turns a cramped scene into a fantastic story. Those who read this book will remember it for a long time afterwards. It has certainly gone down as one of the greatest books I have ever read.
Stunning! The best 20p I am ever likely to spend.