Book Review: Life of Pi

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Life of PiLife of Pi by Yann Martel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I knew little of this book other than it had won the Man Booker Prize and that a film had been made of it recently, directed by Ang Lee. All I could tell (and the rear cover confirmed this) that the book was about a boy, a boat and a tiger. I couldn’t quite see how this could be captivating reading. I couldn’t imagine how I would be anxious to read on. Yet, almost as soon as I had started reading, I was intrigued. I wanted to know what was going to happen with this boy on the boat. I wanted to know his story.

A big part of why this book was so captivating was the way it is written. I have read other prize-winning books and found myself wondering what I was missing. Often, the writing is too opaque, too convoluted for the sake of it, too exclusive for me to enjoy reading every night. Martel, though, writes in such a fluid and easy manner that whilst the ideas are lofty and the soul of the book is intact, the reader can gallop through and take in the story and the heart of the story.

At points, I was holding my breath. I was urging Pi to hold on (even though his survival is known to the reader right at the beginning of the book). I felt desperate for his loss, that is, his grief and his geographical loss, adrift in a seemingly endless ocean. The tiger was a character in its own right and I was emotionally invested in his survival too.

The ending was both perplexing and gratifying. I am eager to see how this book translates to the screen; just as I could not imagine this book working, I cannot really picture the film working either. I look forward to being proved wrong a second time.

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