As promised, here I am with a book review for the latest novel I read!
If I were to see The Life of Pi at a library, I doubt I would have picked it up. I'm young enough (and Christian enough) that most modern novels designed for grown-ups don't really interest me. I'll read an Agatha Christie mystery any day, but any adult novel written this century probably has too much sex and bad language to appeal to me.
Yann Martel's Life of Pi was a brilliantly clean exception.
Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel is a teenage boy from Pondicherry, India. His father, a zookeeper, decides to move the family (and a few zoo animals) to Canada. But, in a similar fashion to my own Where the Clouds Catch Fire, the ship sinks, and Pi is the sole survivor. Unlike Alynn, however, Pi isn't rescued by a kind Scottish monk. Instead, he spends seven months adrift on a lifeboat, with a rather unlikely companion: an adult male Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
Perhaps the fact that the protagonist Pi ascribes to three major religions--Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam--has something to do with the fact that there is no sex or profanity. It is rare for me to see religion treated respectfully in a secular book, but Life of Pi manages to treat all three religions with reverence. As a Christian, I have no complaints. Martel did an excellent job of writing this particular subplot, and I applaud his efforts. (I'm not saying that Pi's religious views are something that should be copied. The boy's a little confused, but he's got the spirit. Or several spirits. I don't know.)
In addition to treating religion with respect, Martel does an excellent job of presenting zoological facts. Pi discusses tigers and meerkats and aquatic life with the knowledgeability expected from a zookeeper's son. In fact, I was able to use one of the facts presented in the book--maintaining eye contact with a cat is a way of establishing dominance--in order to keep my food from being eaten by a friend's nosy feline companion.
And the ending--good Lord, the ending. It might look like something you should skip, a simple insurance interview that isn't going anywhere. But read it. It contains one of the greatest...well, I won't even call it a plot twist. It's a new way of seeing the book.
The book has a hundred chapters; most of them are less than five pages long. This makes the book seem to fly by, and also very easy to put down and come back to. In other words, it's a good book for a busy person.
Life of Pi is an excellent book that should be on every serious reader's TBR list. The fact that most of the book only contains one human character yet continues to be interesting is an amazing feat of literature. The fact that Martel discusses three opposing religions without offending any of them is almost a miracle. Even the title is a religious reference--a saint would often have a book called a Life written about them (for example, The Life of St. Gildas). Pi might not be a saint, but he's certainly a good fictional character. I very much enjoyed reading his story.
I haven't yet seen the movie based on this book. Have you seen the film version of Life of Pi? If so, tell me what you think about it in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to review us on Amazon!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.