Life of Pi by Yann Martel

February 28, 2013
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A Struggling Survivor
We all thought our lives were hard, but no one knows it better than Pi Patel.
The Life of Pi
By Yann Martel
Harcourt, Inc.; 319 pages

“I was alone and orphaned, in the middle of the Pacific, hanging on to an oar, an adult tiger in front of me, sharks beneath me, a storm raging about me.” In this captivating, fictional read, Yann Martel enlightens the reader about the hardships of being an escapee of an accident at sea.

The Patel family had lived in India for many years, but soon felt the need to move to Canada.
Mr. Patel reserved a voyage on a Japanese cargo ship that was exporting zoo animals. An unknown fault caused the ship, The Titsum, to sink; and Pi Patel found himself aboard a lifeboat filled with zoo animals. Most of them perished; however, a tiger accompanied Pi for the whole journey.
Luckily, Pi Patel was a very bright boy who was willing to put in the effort to survive. At the beginning of the book, Yann Martel describes Pi as a young boy with a mind of his own. Back in India, he practiced Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. Also, he is depicted as a young adult with great respect for culture and family. These beneficial characteristics helped Pi stay strong, despite the multiple obstacles he had to overcome.

Along with creating dynamic characters, the author does a fantastic job in portraying the diverse emotions the main character experiences. The sense of longing, fury, excitement, and desperation is so powerful that it is almost impossible to close the book. At the beginning, the animals aboard the lifeboat symbolize different types of personalities. For example, the wounded zebra resembles a person who has lost hope. The wasteful hyena that ends up dying a painful death shows how you should treat others the way you wish to be treated. Lastly, the orangutan sends out a message that tells the reader to never give up, no matter what the odds against you happen to be. Although the orangutan ends getting killed, she died with dignity and determination. These intense themes are woven in and out of each chapter throughout this fascinating novel.

“Inner life was revealed, twitching and jerking-muscles, fat, blood, guts, and bones.” Although The Life of Pi is categorized as a children’s book, the content is a bit graphic for younger kids. The amount of sickening violence in the book would probably be overwhelming for anyone under the age of 12. Aside from these monstrous details, this novel will open up a great passageway of empathy and awareness of the hard world we do not have to endure.

Other Works by Yann Martel:
-The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios
-Beatrice and Virgil

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Mckay This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 6, 2013 at 1:32 pm
I was curious as to how good this novel was due to the recent publicity it has been recieving because of Ang Lee's film portrayal of the novel, which looks fabulous. I will definitely read it now. I hope to enjoy it as much as you have; I can tell that you enjoyed it by all the quotes and descriptions—including a minor spoiler—you used. Not all readers take that much time when writing a review.
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