ann Martel's Life of Pi is an extraordinary story of one boy's epic survival after spending seven months stranded in the Pacific Ocean on a life raft with a Royal Bengal tiger.
The book is well written, and when dealing with all of the major religions, is careful not to ram their beliefs down your throat. Instead, they're used to show young Pi Patel's never-ending faith in one, or many, higher beings.
My only problem with Life of Pi is that its treachery is fantastic. Treachery how, you might ask? I read the first three quarters believing it was a true story. I had many a debate with a friend about the story's credibility. From the author's note I got the distinct impression that Pi Patel was a true person and that this story actually did happen.
Now, that said. I still might be wrong and it's quite possible that this story is true.
It begins in India, where Pi's family runs a zoo. After some hard years, they decide to move to Winnipeg where they plan to make a new start. While on the journey over, their vessel sinks and only Pi is left along with a Royal Bengal tiger, an orangutan, a hyena and zebra with a broken leg.
The story proceeds from there as a survival manual for being stranded in the middle of an ocean with only limited resources and dangerous stow-aways.
As a whole, this story is wonderful. It's magical and not clichéd in any way in terms of the potential relationship (or lack thereof) between Pi Patel and the tiger, Richard Parker. There's not grand departure between the two in the end. It's simple and the kind you'd expect from a captive animal that is once again freed into the wild.
Yann Martel has woven a wonderful web of a story here. The jacket of the book claims that if you don't believe in God, you might after reading the book. I wouldn't go that far, but what it does show is one boy's determination and thorough belief in faith for survival. It makes for a great read both for adults and potentially for teenagers as well.