Life of Pi begins with a look into Pi's not-so-idyllic childhood in Pondicherry, India. The french-influenced town of Pondicherry doesn't quite fit in with the rest of British influenced India, the same way that Pi, once Pristine doesn't quite fit into his own world. We learn that Pi is interested in zoology and religious studies, at home at his family's zoo and a follower of not only Hinduism, but Christianity and Islam as well to the shock of his parents and each respective religious leader in the town. This is just a glimpse into Pi's fascinating personality. He is unique, as unique as his nickname and his experiences are, in how he views the world around him.
This novel claims to make the reader believe in God. Though, I have this feeling of having read something profound, I can't quite pinpoint the soure of power. Is it because it is a book born of hunger; because of Pi's astonishing 227 day experience of being lost at sea with Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger as company; because of the maneating island; because of the sinking of the Tsutimatsu; because of the dual story told to the Japanese; because of Pi's self-inflicted, never-ending nickname; because of the importance of zoos; because of Pi's belief in three distinct religions; because of the happy ending? Which of these is the most powerful? It's hard to choose and they may very well be this novel's power.
Other aspects worth mentioning:
uMantel's writing style is overall engaging. He has great skill in wielding words to create the most vivid images in your mind as you read. Also, shifts within the novel from past to present, from narrative to author's voice were interesting, though sometimes sudden, forcing readers to pause and contemplate about their significance, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
uStrangely enough, the novel is actually pretty funny. It's full of sudden bursts of humor, mostly stemming from Pi's reactions to different situation. His reactions are oftentimes strange and not in tune with how we would expect ourselves to react and that makes him not only likeable, but fascinating.
In Life of Pi, readers spend 319 pages torn between feelings of awe, surprise, intrigue, disbelief, worry, humor, disgust, grief, belief, pride, happiness, success, fear. It's a rollercoaster ride of experiencing the seemingly impossible. What makes Life of Pi a true gold mine of a wok of literature is that it plants a seed of belief in your mind and heart--belief in the unbelievable, belief in animals, belief in the strength of humans, belief in the majesty and beauty of the ocean, belief in secrets hidden in undiscovered lands, and maybe,just maybe...a belief in God.
Until next time,
LooneyExpress Crazy Reviews
P.S. This is DEFINITELY a novel in need of a close second reading. Give yourself some time to absorb its subtle awesomeness. Then a few weeks later, plant yourself in your comfy reading nook (don't have one? What is wrong with you? Go get/make one!) with some popcorn, gummy worms or other perfectly unhealthy reading snack and let yourself drift with Pi and Richard along the Pacific.