Review: Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Life of Pi by Yann Martel was not really what I expected it to be. I’m not sure what I was expecting… I knew this book was about a boy adrift at sea with a tiger, but that’s about it. Which is probably why it took me so long to pick it up, even though it was wildly popular. Turns out it is just as much a book about religion and philosophy than it is anything else.
I like the way this book begins, with an intro into the character of Pi Patel and his life in India. Pi’s approach to religion is the most interesting part of the first third of the book, and from a theological standpoint is enough fodder for a pretty heady discussion on truth and religion. The author also cross sections these religious ideas with those of science and philosophy. The intersection is interesting, especially because of Pi’s ability to blend the different religions and philosophies.
As the story takes Pi adrift at sea, I have to admit that I felt like the plot really started to drag. And I then I had this epiphany where I was like, “I’m reading about a boy lost at sea for months. It would be weird if the story didn’t drag.” The author seems to intentionally include quite a bit of minutia in order to paint the never-ending-ness that you’d have to feel in this part of the story. There were punctuations, though, that kept it interesting. Interactions with the tiger and the environment create an overlay to the philosophy and religion discussed in the first part of the book.
And then came the end, which actually left me feeling dissatisfied. I know I’m supposed to revel in the philosophy and comes to terms with the ambiguity of it by reaching my own conclusions. To that I say balderdash. I want to know the truth. It is funny, because this quote comes from the end of the story, “It's important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse.” And, for real, I just don’t feel like the story was concluded properly, and I am a bit heavy with remorse about it.
I kept going back and forth on the rating I would give this book. It went up and down throughout my reading of it. In the end, I give it: