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Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi (Deluxe Illustrated Edition)
by Yann Martel


Format: Kindle, 426 pages
Published: February 1, 2007 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
(first published September 11th 2001)
Genre: Literature, Fiction

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Yann Martel

Growing up in Pondicherry, India, Piscine Molitor Patel - known as Pi - has a rich life. Bookish by nature, young Pi acquires a broad knowledge of not only the great religious texts but of all literature, and has a great curiosity about how the world works. His family runs the local zoo, and he spends many of his days among goats, hippos, swans, and bears, developing his own theories about the nature of animals and how human nature conforms to it. Pi’s family life is quite happy, even though his brother picks on him and his parents aren’t quite sure how to accept his decision to simultaneously embrace and practise three religions - Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam.

But despite the lush and nurturing variety of Pi’s world, there are broad political changes afoot in India, and when Pi is sixteen, his parents decide that the family needs to escape to a better life. Choosing to move to Canada, they close the zoo, pack their belongings, and board a Japanese cargo ship called the Tsimtsum. Travelling with them are many of their animals, bound for zoos in North America. However, they have only just begun their journey when the ship sinks, taking the dreams of the Patel family down with it. Only Pi survives, cast adrift in a lifeboat with the unlikeliest oftravelling companions: a zebra, an orang-utan, a hyena, and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

Thus begins Pi Patel’s epic, 227-day voyage across the Pacific, and the powerful story of faith and survival at the heart of Life of Pi. Worn and scared, oscillating between hope and despair, Pi is witness to the playing out of the food chain, quite aware of his new position within it. When only the tiger is left of the seafaring menagerie, Pi realizes that his survival depends on his ability to assert his own will, and sets upon a grand and ordered scheme to keep from being Richard Parker’s next meal. -Goodreads





“I know zoos are no longer in people’s good graces. Religion faces the same problem. Certain illusions about freedom plague them both.” (23)



A beautiful and remarkable story of faith and endurance. Provided with meticulous detail, this book pushes it's readers to the depths of human conviction and explores the journey for the will to live.


I found this story sensational with it’s wonderful descriptions and meticulous research on even the smallest detail. Whether discussing zoological history, or a daily routine, Yann Martel makes us feel like we’re thrashing right along with Piscine, his misfortunate and what led up to his building beliefs. A seed was planted with Piscine and his investigative and curious mind in different religions and how, not only can they relate to one another and dwindle down to one central factor, but also how the elements of each religion benefit the soul in a variety of ways.


“Things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to, but what can you do? You must take life the way it comes at you and make the best of it.” (120)


Zoomorphism. It is foreshadowed (page 110,) and yet when we experience this trait with Pi Patel, it’s still incredible. Faith wasn’t the only factor in this plot, Pi’s education and experience with zoo’s and animals provided him with the patient skill of dealing with the animals on his boat, as well as the mysterious island he encounters. In essence, Faith provided him with the will to survive, while knowledge provided him with the tools.


Offhand, I understand (for it is mentioned in the story; page 381) that the author needs the story to last 100 chapters, but some parts seemed unnecessary. I’m not just talking about the 1-2 sentence chapters, but also some of the deeply researched and extreme detailed parts of chapters. At times it made it difficult to focus and made me want to skim through parts of the chapter. This is the only main drawback I had with the novel.


This being the illustrated version of the book, I can’t continue on with the review without stating how extraordinarily beautiful the illustrations were. I would buy and re-read the book again for the illustrations alone. Tomislav Torjanac is truly a master, his art in bright bold colors, depicts the scenes with perfection. I’m now a huge fan of his!


“Life is so beautiful that death has fallen love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can.” (4)


In all this story has the ability to lift spirits when you think about all one can endure in a span of seven months.

Seven months. A divine number, seven is.



First Line: “My suffering left me sad and gloomy.” (1)

Last Line: "Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at sea as Mr. Patel, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger." (425)




“When you’ve suffered a great deal in life, each additional pain is both unbearable and trifling.” (4)


“To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.” (35)


“This story has a happy ending.” (122)


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