Friday, January 25, 2013

Review: Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Release Date: October 2012 (first published 2001)
Publisher: Canongate
Format: Movie tie-in paperback
Source: Borrowed from a friend
Find it: Goodreads | Collins (AU)| Dymocks (AU) |Book Depository (INT) | Amazon (INT)

My Rating: 

From Goodreads: "Pi Patel is an unusual boy. The son of a zookeeper, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior, a fervent love of stories, and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Christianity and Islam. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.

The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional-but is it more true?

Life of Pi is at once a realistic, rousing adventure and a meta-tale of survival that explores the redemptive power of storytelling and the transformative nature of fiction. It's a story, as one character puts it, to make you believe in God."

See below the bump for my review :)

First, thanks to Jodie for letting me borrow her copy of Life of Pi! I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this. I don't usually read books like this that are more classed towards the 'literature' section of the book store and not the 'young adult' section. I was pretty far out of my comfort zone. However I had seen the preview for the movie and it looks graphically stunning and I like to read the book before seeing the film adaptation. So of course I had to read this.

I'm not even sure how to go about reviewing this without giving too much away. but I will give it my best shot!

Pi and his family have always lived in India, and have never strayed too far from their home town. Pi's father owns and runs a local zoo. One of the things that Pi will never forget is the day that his father teaches them a very serious lesson. He takes them to the lion enclosure. The lion hasn't eaten for 3 days when he puts a goat in with it. This lesson is to teach the boys that no matter what they think, a lion will always be a lion. It's survival instincts always come first and it will hunt, kill and eat any chance it gets.

Pi's family are forced to pick up and move themselves and the zoo to Canada. They load up the ship with their animals and their life and make their way across the Pacific. Only it all goes incredibly awry. There is an explosion and the ship starts to sink. Pi manages to make his way to a cruise ship and that's where his true story begins. He is stranded on the boat with a zebra, a hyena and a tiger for 227 calendar days. However the days mean nothing to him. He has no way to record them and it does not matter. It won't change how long he's going to be fighting for his life. 

Life of Pi is brilliant and convoluted and thought provoking and did I mention brilliant? Yann Martel ends his masterpiece with an incredible twist. What you choose to believe is completely up to you. Whether Pi is delusional or invented this story as a means to survive or whether this all actually happened we will never know. Yann Martel leaves the final decision up to the reader.

Yann Martel has a true gift. I had assumed that because this was so far out of my YA comfort zone that I wouldn't enjoy this. I was very wrong, and glad to be! I was happily surprised. I am excited to see what doors Life of Pi has opened for me in the book world. I cant wait to find some other little gems!

Have you read this? Or have you seen the movie? If so what did you think of it? I can't wait to see it!

Do you have any other recommendations for similar books? I have The Help and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to read sometime soon!

Happy reading!


  1. I really enjoyed this book... it was one of the books that really got me into reading again. One of the first books I checked out of the library in 2007 and now I am always at the library!!!

    Angela's Anxious Life

  2. 5 stars, does that mean is that good? I haven't seen the movie either.
    This is something I wouldn't normally read but I heard a lot of interesting about the movie from my family. I asked my friend if it was that good. I was asking him to know if I should buy or just not read it at all. But from what you said about it and from what I heard of the movie I think I am interested enough to read it.

    Rivie @ Bookshelf

  3. Definitely one of my favorite books of all time - I put off reading it for years until the movie came out, and once I started it I couldn't put it down. It was such a lovely story.

  4. Yay, so glad you enjoyed it and that you were pleasantly surprised (I love when that happens)! I always usually read the book then watch the movie but that just didn't happen this time round. I saw it at the movies a few weeks ago and really liked it so I hope you get to see it soon!

    Ooh, The Help! I watched the movie last year and LOVED it so I'm looking forward to giving the book a go :)


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