Life of Pi by Yann Martel
So I finished this today so I figured I would do a little review of it.
I was considering quite a while about what genre Life of Pi is, and it's left me quite confused. It is a story of adventure and survival but saturated in spirituality with an element of character study and a good ounce of comedy in there.
On that note, I can jump in with my impressions of the book. On finishing I was left with the feeling that I had just finished an incredible book. And I don't normally get that feeling, I usually need time to cool off and reflect while I think about the book for a while before I decide that. But with this it just hits you, it screams in your face "I AM A GOOD BOOK AND YOU WILL APPRECIATE ME".
The book centres around "Pi" Patel in the 1970s, following his spiritual self discovery his thirst for knowledge is revealed to us in the environment of a zoo owned by his father. Extremely likeable, Pi's 1st person ramblings on all things from sloths to mountain top churches is engaging and charming. When the ship carrying Pi, his family and all his animals is sunk he ends up on a lifeboat with a tiger. The second half of the book is a tale of survival and ponderings.
Life of Pi has not only an interesting character and exploration into religion but it has a plot! All too often a character discussion / spiritual book doesn't really go anywhere. But this is awesome! Things happen! And when they do I actually cared about what happened, and what was going on when Richard Parker (the tiger) came running back from the island at dusk. This book's plot is deep and satisfying, while the narrative style- a mix between 1st person storytelling and from the author as he tries to research and write the book- makes it seem so realistic. You come to believe that it is entirely possible to survive 227 days at sea like Pi.
Now on to the film debate: this was a highly successful book, winning the Man Booker Prize in 2002. And so in 2012 it became another book to be immortalised on the big screen. I personally saw the film before reading the book, and I don't think that diminished my experience of Life of Pi at all. It revved me up, so I was ready to jump into the book. The film does a good job, I enjoyed it and would watch it again- especially now I have finished the book. Nonetheless, inevitably some of the more wordy sections of the book is lost. There simply isn't the time to devote to all the discussions of animals or to fully demonstrate the depth of Pi's religious awakening. Both parts of the book I loved, so you do lose some things. However most importantly, for me, Ang Lee's adaption of the book keeps the charm. The film is delightful and perfectly captures Pi's journey. Whether it be the range of emotions he feels when he is bobbing about on the boat or just Pi himself, who comes across as clever, curious and very likeable.
All I can say is read the book, then watch the film! You won't be disappointed, especially if you're a sucker for tiger films like me *cough Two Brothers*. Plus while it's 22p on Amazon for kindle you have no excuse!