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Book Review: Life of Pi - Yann Martel

Book Review: Life of Pi - Yann Martel

By Lelasta <3



This book, Life Of Pi, tells the story of an Indo-Canadian boy named Piscine Molitor Patel, or Pi for short. At a very young age, Pi discovers and practices three religions. He was born into a Hindu family, but he discovers Christianity, then Islam and practices all three. Because of the political situation in India, Pi’s parents decide to move the family to Canada. They sell some of the animals that they owned, because Pi’s father had once owned the Pondicherry Zoo. The rest of the animals were put on a cargo ship, the Tsimtsum.


Pi and his family set sail to go to Canada, along with the animals and the crew. However, a storm in the middle of the night causes the ship to start to sink. Pi hears an explosion noise, then he gets thrown overboard into a lifeboat with a tiger, whose name is Richard Parker, a zebra, an orang-outan, and a hyena. The next day, the storm subsides. His family is gone. All five of them are stranded. The hyena kills the zebra, but the orang-outan is not happy about this. So the hyena also eats the orang-outan. The tiger, who has been hiding in the bottom of the lifeboat, eats the hyena.


After that, it’s just Pi and Richard Parker. Pi is terrified, as his father had once shown him and his brother a ravenous tiger eating a goat the size of Pi. He racks his mind to find plans that could work to ensure his survival. Plan Number Seven is the plan that seems the most feasible: tame Richard Parker and assert dominance. He trains Richard Parker to obey him and stay back whenever he blows a whistle. After a lot of training, Richard Parker finally starts to obey Pi.


For months, Pi subsides on emergency crackers, fish, turtles, and crabs, until he washes up on a strange island. This island is inhabited by only meerkats and algae. According to Pi, the inner shells of this algae taste bitter, while the outer ones are crunchy and sweet. He feasts on the algae while Richard Parker feasts on the meerkats, which is a win-win scenario for both Pi and Richard Parker. However, one day, Pi discovers a strange fruit that peels like an onion. He unwraps the green layers one by one only to find… a HUMAN TOOTH. To test his theory, he climbs up a tree at night and knocks a meerkat down onto the ground. The meerkat scrambles back up the tree and starts licking its paws. Pi tries to let his bare feet touch the ground, and his hypothesis is confirmed. The vegetation is man-eating.


Pi and Richard Parker leave the island and head back out to sea. They wash up on a Mexican beach, where Richard Parker runs away and Pi gets rescued. After he receives the proper medical attention, Pi gets interviewed by two officials from the Japanese Ministry of Transport, who are hoping to find the cause of the sinking of the ship. He tells the officials his story, but they do not seem to believe him. He then tells a modified version of the story, where the zebra is a handsome sailor, the orang-outan is his mother, the hyena is a ravenous cook, and the tiger is Pi himself.


I give this book 4.5/5 stars. I really like how the author demonstrates the will to live and the importance of religion in the story. A number of times, Pi feels like giving up, but he remembers Richard Parker, who is the only thing that makes him want to live. Also, each of the 227 days that Pi was stranded on the boat, he prayed three times a day. Religion was still important to him.


However, there are some aspects of this book that are a bit graphic and violent. Take the hyena eating the orang-outan and the zebra, for example. The author describes every part of the story in intricate detail, but in the case of that scene, I think that it’s a bit too detailed. Therefore, I recommend this book to an age of 12+.


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