The book Life of Pi is a fascinating story by Yann Martel. The book tells about Pi's life and particularly focuses on a shipwreck which Pi and his family experienced while crossing the ocean headed to America from India.Though I am not typically a fiction reader, I got completely wrapped up in the story of the boy name Pi.
While the main part of the book is very good and pulls the reader along, it takes a bit to get into the story. A full quarter of the book is spent on the spiritual journey of Pi. He completely embraces the three main religions of Christianity (Catholicism), Islam and Hinduism. This part of the book took a while to get pulled into. I loved the rest of the book, but feel that the first 120 pages could easily be left out. Essentially I think that part one of the book could be removed and summarized to make a better story.
Pi was the son of a zoo keeper in India. The zoo was sold and parted out to various other zoos and collections. Pi and his family were crossing the Pacific Ocean on a ship with some of the animals which were being delivered to different zoos in the United States and Canada when they were caught in a storm. The storm destroyed the ship. Pi was able to get into a lifeboat with a couple other animals. While he was glad for the company, one of the animals was a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
The vast majority of the book is the story of how Pi tamed the 450 pound tiger. They survived over 7 months in the lifeboat. The story goes into great detail of what Pi was thinking and how he trained the tiger. One of the best parts of the book is a journal entry from Pi with his nine step process on training a tiger when trapped in a lifeboat. He also makes sure to let the reader know that this should work with other similar wild animals. This is written as if he fully expects that other people will find themselves in the same situation and they would benefit from his writing this down. In the end it is easy to forget that someone made this story up since it seems so much like what a 16 year old boy would write. Brilliantly done!
The story is told from different perspectives. There is the perspective of an interviewer who wrote down the information while asking Pi (and others) to tell the story. The majority of the book is still written in first person from Pi's perspective. The author flips from different writing perspectives depending on the section of the book. It is not hard to follow, but the very end of the book gets a little confusing.
My biggest criticism of the book is how long it took to get to the heart of the story. It really was a fascinating book after I got past the first 120 pages. If it weren't for that, I would have high praise for the book. Of course my opinion on the details included in a fiction book may not be representative of people who enjoy fiction. As a non-fiction reader I expect every page to have information that is pertinent and important. The fact that I can summarize the first quarter of the book in two sentences makes this book a little less enjoyable to me.
Besides being a great story, Life of Pi is a commentary on human nature and the passion to survive. This is not one of those books where you are left wondering what the point and application of the story could be: it is clearly spelled out towards the end of the book. This book will probably become a classic. That's not to say that everyone will like it. I can imagine that it is also very polarizing and has raised many moral questions.