Monday, 19 March 2012

Life of Pi - Yann Martel

ISBN: 184195392X

For the most part, I actually found this book quite boring. Martel tells the story of a teenage boy who is trapped in a lifeboat with a huge tiger. Surreal as this novel is, Martel narrates, through Pi Patel, in what feels like real time. And so, of course, the plot moves very slowly. This is all very well, but considering nothing more is going on than a boy and a tiger stranded in the middle of the ocean for the majority of the novel, this failed to capture me.

It certainly wasn't entirely uninteresting though--far from it. Martel grapples with issues such as what it is to be human, and are we just animals? He presents us with life when life itself is the only thing we are fighting for. And by the end he raises questions about reliable narrators and the nature of fact and fiction.

The character of Pi himself is unique and brilliantly created, with Martel building up a whole personality around his nickname, with the stories surrounding it. I found this enchanting. There is also a long discussion about religion towards the beginning of this novel, which is fascinating, illuminating and charming in its naivety. With more of these aspects, this work could have been brilliant.

There was also a very interesting snapshot of a dystopia in miniature, which I would have loved Martel to go into much deeper. What is unique about this novel is that we are shown social and environmental set-ups that we have seen many times before, but in such a microcosm that the elements are distilled to their very basics.

Rating: 6/10

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