Book Review – The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

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Okay I have to make a slight confession before I start reviewing this and that is that I began this book with preconceptions (totally justified I believe) which may have influenced my feelings towards it.  As you will see from reading the review I have tried my best to be honest about what influence this had if any.

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I am always sceptical of Award-winning books or those I am told I ‘must read’ so it was with the usual trepidation I approached this one.  I had intended to have it read with time t spare to go see the film in the cinema but that plan failed miserably.

Now here comes the baggage I picked this book up with, I had been warned from various sources that the first half of the book was a drag but it was well worth sticking with it for the second half.

The real question is did this become a self fulfilling prophecy, did I only struggle to say awake through the first part of the book because that is what I was told to expect, honestly I don’t think so.  The author has set out to write the book in one hundred chapters lets say at least thirty of the first fifty could have been scrapped.  The first part of the story is slow paced and very much sets up the philosophical background with which the second half is inspected with.  I guess part of the problem is that I really have very little interest in the religious dogmas of any of the groups therefore it put me off a little and really once events began to transpire where you would expect the question of God to be raised he played very little part.

The second half of the book was much better even though the pace did not pick up as much as I had anticipated.  The overall premise of the book is interesting, could a boy survive cast adrift on a life raft with a tiger, I love the way the actual practicality of training the tiger to stay in his own half was explained, and in general the day to day survival was well written.

If I had to pick my favourite bit it would actually be the final few pages, I found the discussion there regarding what people can accept as a truth and how the same story can be told with a different cast yet one version be more palatable than the other.  The actually quandary in those final pages as to the real essence of a story and its integrity I feel is a subject more worthy for further exploration than the philosophy of the various religions discussed previously.

I found that however much I enjoyed the second, half the book overall failed to live up to the hype and I do believe that the slow start was responsible for some of that.  It did raise interesting topics for discussion and would be a brilliant book for a book club to discuss, I found myself disheartened and disappointed by it and no longer in a rush to see the film.

As much as it pains me I give this book 3.5 out of 5 which 3 of those marks were earned in the final 30 percent of the book.

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10 comments on “Book Review – The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

  1. A good , honest review Paula. Not jumping on the bandwagon of the books popularity as some do. I may watch the film for the effects but doubt I’ll try the book now. Forewarned is forearmed. xx Hugs xx

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  2. I haven’t read the book, but I did see the movie, and I really enjoyed it. Not only were the visual effects stunning, but they must have scrapped the boring parts of the book because I felt it was well-paced.

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    • maybe when I have put some distance between me and the book I will give the film a chance I have been told the film is stunning to look at and people I know have seen it really enjoyed it but they like you had not read the book

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  3. I felt the same as you about the first part. It was interesting enough, but had almost nothing to do with the ultimate plot. I think if I reread it, I’d skip right to the boat.

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  4. Retrospectively i enjoyed the book. I spent alot of it wondering where it was all leading and maybe getting a bit bored but like you i enjoyed the ending. the fact it made me reconsider what i’d read made me think.
    The film isnt terribly well acted but it is the best use of 3d i’ve seen on the big screen. the wide shots of the sea are beautiful, espec at night, and the cgi is perfect – you really believe he is in that boat with a tiger

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  5. I struggled with this book. It was one I felt I ought to read but even after putting some distance between now and my reading of it, it isn’t something I would read again and I’d struggle to recommend it. I enjoyed your honest review of it 🙂

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  6. Extremely honest review Paula. I read the book when it was first released, I yawned my way through most of it, despite my interest in the subject matter. Someday I might see the movie for the visuals but so far I haven’t done so.

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