Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Zoo on the Ocean

There are some books that were just meant to be movies.  Life of Pi by Yann Martel is one such novel. Now I read this book for a book club I run at the library, but prior to having read it, I watched the movie. I know! Shock and awe! Luckily, there was enough space between seeing the movie and reading the book that I didn't do the whole “well that was nothing like what I saw in the movie”. This is such a vibrant and visual book that it made a stunning and accurate movie.

Life of Pi is the extraordinary story of Pi. It begins with his childhood in India, where his father owns a zoo. Pi is an eccentric, wise, and vivacious young boy who takes a keen interest in religion. He is born Hindu, but picks up Islam and Christianity along the way, finding faith and comfort in all three. The real adventure starts when Pi and his family decide to sell the zoo and move to Canada. On the trip across the ocean, the ship sinks leaving Pi on a life boat with a chimp, hyena, zebra, and Bengali tiger. What follows is the story of Pi’s survival at sea with a wild tiger and how he carries on.

Many have found this book to be a survival story, a great book of storytelling, and a book about faith. I found it unique in that it combines all three. It has elements of a Biblical tale in the extraordinary circumstances that take place, yet even when Pi questions his beliefs, he remains faithful. Of course, the most obvious element of the story is that of survival on the Pacific Ocean with a wild animal. Pi’s ability to tame Richard Parker, the tiger, and find hope in his presence is the story that makes for good Hollywood filming. There were times during this second section that I skimmed through  because you can only read about fishing so much before it gets repetitive.

I enjoyed this story. I thought the framing of it was interesting with a young man relating his encounter with the older Pi as he tells his story. Most people can find something they like about this book, whether it be the adventure story, faith in the face of adversity, animals and nature, or a storyteller’s tale. If you've seen the movie, the book is quite similar, but I suppose I should say the book is always better…

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