Life of Pi by Yann Martel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Note: this review does have spoilers. If you haven't read the book and you plan to, don't read this review. It will make your reading more enjoyable to not know how it turns out.
Pi is a nickname for the main character, whom you meet while he is young and in school, and where the reason he later gives himself the nickname is fleshed out. This book is about his family, who run a zoo, decide to move to Canada and sell the animals to other zoos. They board as ship, with animals in tow, which ultimately sinks and Pi and four animals end up on a lifeboat.
Told in three parts; early life before the move, life on the boat, life after rescue, you almost have to rate each part separately as they are so different.
The first part gives you background on his family and the zoo, him, and his ultimate following of three religions at one time. Some of this was hard to follow only because I wasn't familiar with much of the religious wording used. All the Hindu gods and stories were foreign to me. Just as to him, wandering into a Christian church and seeing the statue of Christ on the cross was a foreign concept to him. Why would a God allow himself to be put through this he wonders. None of the Gods he worshiped would do this. They would use their Godly powers to overcome this adversity as a proper God should. Ultimately he learns form the preacher that Love is the reason.
The middle part was my favorite because it was the most interesting and riveting. At times it was horrific as you can imagine how a hyena would interact with an injured zebra and a female orangutan in a confined space. The most interesting part is how Pi decides that he needs to train the tiger so he will be able to survive. Quite a resourceful boy he makes do and ultimately survives the ordeal.
The last part was strange in a way. Officials from the Japanese shipping company whose ship sank come to interview him to try and find out why their ship sank. During the interviews they had a hard time believing that this story was real. How could a boy survive on a boat this long with a tiger on board. No one had seen the tiger in the jungle since they hit land. How could this be? Finally Pi tells of a different story, one which the animals are really symbolic of people who were on the boat. This story he tells to them because it is what they want to hear. One of human savagery not of a boy's triumph over a wild animal. It makes you wonder; which story is really true? In the final report the interviewer goes with the tiger story and that is the story that I want to believe as well.
This book has some hard things to read in it. At times he talks about cruelty to animals at the hands of zoo keepers and stupid humans who do stupid and unbelievable things.
Aside from that this is a very enjoyable book. I read it over a weekend because I was so interested in finding out what happened.
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