Saturday, 23 April 2011

Book review: The Life of Pi, Yann Martel

This is one of those books on my 'I really must read this one day' list.  Then lo and behold, I was given a copy by a colleague at work (thanks Louise), who had 40-odd copies to give away as part of World Book Night.  I'm only about 2 months late.

Anyway, in short.  I wish I'd read it earlier.

It's the story of Pi (real name Piscine), and his life growing up in Pondicherry, India. 

Pi's father owns a zoo, Pi has been taught everything there is to know about keeping animals in a zoo, what to do, what not to do, why it's good for the animals to be kept in a zoo, why it's bad, and the secret of the most dangerous animal in the zoo.

Pi also gets caught up with religion too, which is quite a humourous little story: he wants to love God through religion, but he doesn't know which one to choose, so he has a go at 3 (Christian, Hindu, Muslim), much to his parents concern.  There's a funny episode when all 3  of his religious 'teachers'turn up to speak to Pi, on the same day, at the same time, and end up arguing with each other about why their religion is better than the other.

As Pi grows up, there are some wonderful phrases and instances, particularly with his relationships with his older brother Ravi and his mother and father.

The main story/adventure takes over when Pi's family relocate to Canada, selling the zoo and its' animals, and making sure they're shipped off to various parts of the world, several of them end up on the ship Pi and his family take to Canada. 

It's on this journey that Pi's life changes forever, and the story of the zebra, a spotted hyena, a seasick orangutan, and a Bengal tiger take up the rest of the narrative.  I also love the fact that the tiger was called Richard Parker!  I know someone called Richard Parker!!

It's a magical story of survival, adventure, perseverance, determination and skill, I was gripped and couldn't put it down until I knew that Pi was safe.

I was slightly disappointed at the end, I knew that there would be an end, but felt that it didn't do the book justice, I wanted more to happen. 

All in all, I'd read it again, and recommend it to others.

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