Sometimes in life, you’re lucky enough to stumble upon a sign, a small token which made you realized how much you’ve changed. A book is a perfect small token, something unchanged by time, and yet, I, the reader, might change.
The first time I read this book, in 2007, I was simply unmoved. I remembered being fascinated by the story of the zoo animals, but nothing more. I was bored the minute Pi was in the water. I didn’t really get the “magical” part of the adventure (I still didn’t get that much of it now, but I like the book in a different way, so it’s perfectly alright).
This time, I found something about it. Something that resonates with me. Not so much about the mood I was in when I was reading the book, but more of my standing point. I like Pi more. I like how observant he is with the zoo animals, and I love how he would embrace religions without judging them. In a story where the main character is so dominant, I found I have to love them in order to want to read the whole book.
The Review: Life of Pi – Yann Martel
There are many ways to describe the story. Some said it was a proof of finding God, restoring the faith to God, some said it was a magical journey. I chose to view it as a survival adventure, and a very compelling and colorful one at that.
Pi Patel, the main character, was an unusual boy. He was the second son of a zoo owner, an avid observer of animals, and someone who was fascinated by God and religion (in fact, he took up three at once: Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam).
The story started in Pondicherry, India, giving a lush description of the fragrant life there. It was all good until one day the father decided they were to move to Canada, along with some animals on a big cargo ship. We all know what happened. On a stormy night, the ship sank. Leaving Pi as the only human on a lifeboat.
This part down you might not want to read if you haven’t read the book. It’s not much of a spoiler, because we already know what happened anyways, but you might want to have your opinion first before reading mine.
If this book had a main character of a straight forward, rational, National Geographic-y adventurer, then it wouldn’t be half as interesting. But we’re talking about a boy who was used to so many colors, smells, and people. The sea was vast, food and water were scarce, and his only company was a bengal tiger. (PS: I absolutely love the part where he discovered the joy of Norwegian biscuits 😀 )
The interesting part was, Pi was never mentioned as a storyteller, a fiction writer. So when he told his story of survival, you would believe him. Until the end, when he told another version of the story. A more realistic one, perhaps, because it consisted humans rather than animals. Then you’d wonder if Pi had made it up all along. True, he was not a writer. But on the other hand, he loves religious, metaphorical stories. So, was it possible? That all of his journey, the creatures he encountered and the survival was also metaphorical?
I guess, for me, that was why I like this book a whole lot more this time around. The vagueness with a hint on reality of it made it a more compelling story after I chose to see it as it is. It is a great journey. And sometimes, in order to make life more interesting, you just need to add a tiger so you would focus on the more important things instead of worrying about that small tore in your clothes.
Would I recommend this book? Wholeheartedly yes. Unless you’re looking for romance, because there’s absolutely none in here. Also I have a hunch the movie would be even better than the book (which is rare). I’ll be looking forward to it in the next days!