Life of Pi by Yann Martel

9/10 An extraordinary and distinctive work of fiction.

Yann Martel’s award winning novel Life of Pi, published in 2010 as a young adult edition by Walker/Canongate, is a unique and often surreal tale of the animal kingdom, shipwreck and faith. First published in September 2001, the UK edition won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2002.

One boy, one boat, one tiger... After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orang-utan - and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger.

It is hard to know what to expect from Yann Martel’s Life of Pi but I will say this – it is surprisingly entertaining for a story that’s opening chapter deals largely with the differences between the two- and three-toed sloth. I was also immediately struck by the author’s talent for putting his life’s observations into words, “Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can” and “a tie is a noose, and inverted though it is, it will hang a man nonetheless if he’s not careful” are both examples of an affectionate and attractive use of the English language. The story itself does not concern itself overly with plausibility and at times Martel lets his imagination run wild, using allegory and metaphor to further the story (and to deliver his own personal messages on a variety of subjects). But at no time does the story become ridiculous as there is a clear reason for every sentence within the book.

Life of Pi can be read solely as a rip-roaring adventure novel but for those who like to delve a little deeper there are issues of spirituality and realism for those whose eyes wish to see it. A high-level of research into the animal kingdom and religion has obviously been undertaken prior to and during the writing of this book, and most likely also into the accounts of many shipwreck survivors, and this work is amply rewarded with a great feel of authenticity in these areas. The end of the book is extremely moving and thought-provoking with the questions it raises staying with the reader long after the last page has been turned.

Recommended for readers aged 14+ Life of Pi is by turns clever, amusing, thought-provoking and touching. It is an accessible way of looking at religion, religious intolerance and the brutality of the animal kingdom and an extraordinary and distinctive work of fiction.

Life of Pi (Paperback, Walker/Canongate young adult edition)
ISBN: 9781406330267
Published: 05 Jul 2010
RRP: £7.99

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1 positive reader review(s) for Life of Pi


Life of Pi reader reviews

from Philippines

You have a really nice review =) did you know that it will be in 3D adventure film? Something to look forward to either ways. Here's my review by the way: Have a nice day! :)

8.3/10 from 2 reviews

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