05 September 2009

200-word review: 'Life of Pi' by Yann Martel

I think I’ve lost my literary mojo. I should have liked ‘Life of Pi’. After all, it was the 2002 Booker Prize winner, and it’s extremely well written.

Yann Martel’s story of the childhood and coming-of-age of Piscine Molitor Patel, known as Pi, is best known as the book about a boy who gets trapped in a lifeboat with a tiger. This dismisses the fascinating part of the novel before the shipwreck, in which Pi grows up as a practising Hindu, Muslim and Christian. Not a theological standpoint I sympathise with, but interesting nonetheless, and vitally important to understanding the meaning of the novel. The bulk of the novel dealing with Pi’s time at sea is also beautifully written and, at times, engaging.

Despite that, I didn’t enjoy it. This may be because I am an animal lover with a strong sense of empathy, and some horrific things happen to animals. I also found much of the ‘at sea’ part tedious. That’s probably a literary effect to reflect the monotony of Pi’s life, but it was difficult. However, I thought the ending raised interesting ideas about belief and tolerance. But it’s definitely not a book I want to read again.

Next Book Review: 'Died in the Wool' by Mary Kruger

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