LIfe of Pi by Yann Martel was given to me as a Christmas gift by my boyfriend last year. He told me it was one of his favourite books and that I had to read it. I wanted to and had plans to read it as soon as possible, but it fell by the wayside. Then, one day, I was confined to the bathroom with an awful bug (too much info?) and in order to keep myself distracted from the illness at hand, I started reading Life of Pi. I couldn’t have picked a better time to start the novel, as there was no way in hell I could have put that book down if I’d tried.
“I know what you want. You want a story that won’t surprise you. That will confirm what you already know. That won’t make you see higher or further or differently. You want a flat story. An immobile story. You want dry, yeastless factuality.” Martel, p336
If you want a story like the one Pi described above, don’t read Life of Pi. Life of Pi changed the way I understand concepts like religion and survival for the better. The book is split into two very different parts. The first describes Pi and his discovery of religion, while the second tells the tale of a shipwreck and Pi’s very interesting and determined survival.
Religion is always a touchy subject, especially among the devout. Everyone, even those within the same belief systems, have a different take on God, atonement, forgiveness, Heaven etc.. Martel challenges many of these beliefs in favour of a more unified view on religion. However, it is not a forceful novel that demands you see things from Pi’s perspective; instead, it reads like the words of an exceptionally wise man merely sharing his knowledge. Merely by telling his story, Pi convinces you that there is a better, more open-minded way of seeing religion. Pi asks: “If there’s only one nation in the sky, should all passports [religions] be valid for it?” Martel, p74.
“Hindus, in their capacity for love, are indeed hairless Christians, just as Muslims, in the way they see God in everything, are bearded Hindus, and Christians, in their devotion to God, are hat wearing Muslims.” Martel, p54-55
The second part of the novel I don’t want to spoil for you. This is the part that I heard most about before having read the book. In fact, I though the entire book consisted of this second part. You most likely know that it has something to do with a shipwreck, a tiger, a zebra, and an orangutang. But I won’t tell you more than that…except to say that Pi’s story of survival is truly a fascinating one.
Normally, I say that I only do book reviews on books everyone should read. And that is somewhat true for this book as well. Everyone should read this book. However, that is not to say that everyone can. It’s not a book that’s difficult to understand or hard to follow, but it is a deep book that requires reflection and challenging your personal opinion. Pi himself refers to his story as one that will make you see higher, further, and differently. That’s pretty accurate, I’d say. If you’re close-minded and/or stubborn regarding religion, you won’t like this book.
Thanks for reading, folks! Let me know if there are any other books you’d like to hear a review on.