Life of Pi by Yann Martel – book review

My latest personal choice of read, rather than a requested book review is Life of Pi by Yann Martel. This was the winner of the prestigious Man Booker Prize back in 2002.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Here is the book blurb.

One boy, one boat, one tiger . . .

After the tragic sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild, blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a zebra (with a broken leg), a female orang-utan — and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary and best-loved works of fiction in recent years.

This book starts like most with an author’s note, which initially made me assume that the story was based on a true tale, but as I read, I revised my original opinion. How could such a scene possibly have really happened.

The first few chapters dart from theme to theme as the scene is set, which I did find slightly confusing. But this is to introduce us to Piscine Molitor Patel, known as Pi. Yann also weaves himself in as the writer interviewing characters. In part 1, we follow Pi through childhood in the 1970’s upto age 16, when he and his family are about to emigrate from India to Canada. I particularly liked how Pi was a practising Hindu, Christian and Muslim.

Pi’s father had been the Pondicherry zoo director, but he is now closing the zoo and most of the animals are being bought by US zoos. So the family and the zoo animals are about to set sail aboard the Japanese cargo ship Tsimtsum for pastures new.

It is only as we move into part 2 of the story, that the blurb comes into play. Four days out of Manila, the ship is in trouble. Three of the crew throw Pi overboard into a lifeboat before the ship sinks. But who does he have for company on this lifeboat, but some of the animals who had escaped from their cages. A hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and a tiger, with sharks circling around. You just know that things are going to prove interesting.

And what a tale it is. There is even a part 3, which is different again. I highly recommend Life of Pi. A great read which I thoroughly enjoyed, suitable for both adults and older children from about age 11 upwards.

This bestselling book has also been made into a film which i would love to see too.

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18 thoughts on “Life of Pi by Yann Martel – book review

  1. Pingback: Bookworms Monthly July link Up - At Home A Lot

  2. sarahmo3w

    I need to read this! I know it’s a classic and it’s one that I always have in the back of my mind, but have never picked up. It’s interesting that you say it’s suitable for children too, as I’m always looking for books that my daughter would enjoy. I’m definitely going to read it now, thank you!

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    1. mumjd Post author

      yes I had been thinking about it for a while, but it was seeing it as the Yr8 featured book pick on a school reading list during lockdown that pushed it to the top of my pile

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