This book follows the journey of a boy named Pi, who’s lost in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Through this story, written in the perspective of Pi, we watch as he struggles to survive both physically and emotionally while stranded on a boat.
The story is sectioned into three parts—before, during, and after the ordeal—and honestly, it felt like reading three different stories because the tone and content of each part was so distinct (though beautifully united). Going in, I felt rather unenthusiastic because I just thought it was just another grandiose story of how someone ~defeat the odds!~ but boy, this book exceeded my expectations in so many ways.
First, the characters were so endearing, I don’t even know how to begin describing it. Not only was Pi such a lovable protagonist, but his parents, Pi’s classmates, his brother, and even the religious leaders were written in such a witty, humorous, and wholesome way and it was so easy to get really invested in the story.
As for the plot, I felt that the storyline moved really slowly in Part One and personally, I didn’t love the chapters that went on and on about animals and zoos and such. Still, I can see why they were necessary. Plus, even when slow, the story was really vivid and well-written and simply just interesting, so the initial pacing didn’t bother me all too much—just made it take a while to get through the book. I think I’d say my favorite lighthearted chapter was the one that explained how Pi became “Pi,” but I also really enjoyed the ones that described religion and how though they were supposed to be reflective and “serious,” they carried an air of Pi’s pure worldview.
I think what I loved most about this book was the way it played with structure, parallels, and narrative in such a genius way. Some chapters consisted of just one paragraph while others were lists (and there was even one consisting only of 2 words), and it was just so interesting to read, not only because it was unique but because it added so much depth and meaning to the story. There are so many subtly clever elements scattered throughout this book (for example, why 227 days?) and I just know that each time I reread this book, I’ll continue to discover more.
And also, part 3. To sum it up in one word: mindblowing. I’m not remotely kidding when I say the ending was what made this book go from a 3.5 star book to a 5 star one, and I know that’s usually not supposed to be a good thing, but guys, the ending was so unexpected and genius. It made me rethink everything I’d read up to that point and I’m 90% sure I gasped audibly while reading it.
This book thoughtfully touched on a multitude of themes such as truth, religion, survival, and human nature, and my review only scratches the surface of the complexity of this book. Despite its rather dramatic premise, it was a much more pensive and poignant than I’d expected. I’d recommend it to anyone, but especially to those that love to read philosophical books 🙂
Words of divine consciousness: moral exaltation; lasting feelings of elevation, elation, joy; a quickening of the moral sense, which strikes one as more important than an intellectual understanding of things; an alignment of the universe along moral lines, not intellectual ones; a realization that the founding principle of existence is what we call love, which works itself out sometimes not clearly, not cleanly, not immediately, nonetheless ineluctably.”Martel, Life of Pi