Life of Pi
by Yann Martel
reviewed by Julia Swart
Yann Martel deserves all the praise he has earned for his award-winning novel Life of Pi. I can personally say that it is one of the most riveting and original books I have ever read, taking me by surprise from start to finish.
The book begins with a young boy named Piscene, who later becomes known as “Pi.” I was drawn in with details of his youth in India and how he is brought up in a less than normal environment: a zoo. Because of this, Pi is taught many lessons an ordinary child would have never learned. As the narrative of Pi’s life continues, I learned of the religious and spiritual aspects of his character. Pi’s infatuation with religion often leaves many in awe, as he claims to be Christian, Hindu, and Muslim at the same time.
Times in India become tough, and Pi’s father makes the decision to move his family, and his zoo, to Canada. However, along the way their voyage takes a tragic turn, and Pi becomes stranded on a lifeboat, his only escorts being a hyena, an orangutan, a crippled zebra, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger, also known as Richard Parker. After a short time, it is only Pi and Richard Parker left on the boat. Nonetheless, I didn’t lose hope (partially because there was still half of the book left and Pi couldn’t possibly die anytime soon.) While reading the numerous challenges Pi is faced with, I too learned many important lessons. Life of Pi is the epitome of what we call a “page turner” tying in humor with drama, suspense, and moments that leave tears rolling down your cheeks. Martel craft fully weaves this tale in such a way that as I read it I felt as though I too was on that lifeboat, a gift few writers possess. Life of Pi is a must read that I recommend to ages ranging anywhere from pre-teen to adult years.