Another month has passed and another book had been read! And this time, it is not a classical tale, but a relevant one. I’ve recently finished reading the book of, Life of Pi. If you are wondering if I had watched the movie then the book, No. I’ve read the book first and made sure I finished it before proceeding to the movie itself. On the side note, I would like to congratulate Ang Lee and the cast plus the crew who made “Life of Pi” possible! 4 Oscars and well-deserved at that!
Now before I get all giddy inside because the movie Life of Pi is just as awesome as the book itself, let us first of all acknowledge the author of the book, Mr. Yann Martel. I couldn’t think of a better way in showing God in his true colors than this book.
Anyhow, lets get on with the review.
I believe in the saying, “God transcends in different forms.” Miraculous events or not, God performs different miracles in life that is bigger than us. We often ask ourselves, “Why did God allow these things to happen to me?” whenever we face certain bumps and crossroads in life. It is nothing but human. If you’ve ever encountered during mass ceremonies that God answers you in different ways, either:
a. Yes, your wish is granted.
b. No. It’s not the time yet.
c. No. I have a better plan set out for you.
then you are no different from me nor Pi Patel.
Life of Pi is a fictional story that tells the journey of a boy who has many faiths, a 450-pound Bengal tiger, a life boat and the wide Pacific Ocean. Its extremely difficult for me to wrap the story in three words but I couldn’t find a perfect word to describe this book. I guess because it comes to you in so many different ways.
I was giving up. I would have given up – if a voice hadn’t made itself heard in my heart. The voice said, “I will not die. I refuse it. I will make it through this nightmare. I will beat the odds, as great as they are. I have survived so far, miraculously. Now I will turn miracle into routine. The amazing will be seen everyday. I will put in all the hard work necessary. Yes, so long as God is with me, I will not die. Amen.”
First, I believe this book tests your faith. It is very difficult to imagine a boy from India who goes to Canada together with his family will face an unfortunate event in the Pacific Ocean. You may call it lucky that among all the trained crews in the ship, it was only a boy who survived the shipwreck. Not only that, he survived living with a 450-pound Bengal Tiger. Now I don’t know anything about wild animals, but I believe they are called “wild” for a reason. It is certainly miraculous to be convinced in such a magnificent story. If ever I was Pi in that lifeboat, I would not bear the same strength as he did. Pi’s faith is incomparable to mine, I cannot contest his belief not only to the Hindu gods, but to God the Father as well as Allah. He was gifted with innumerable amounts of faith.
Second, this book discusses an unlikely friendship that has a bitter ending. I love how even though Pi took care of Richard Parker (Bengal Tiger), Yann Martel gave it a certain twist that Richard Parker did not value the friendship he and Pi had while they were surviving in the lifeboat. I guess it was too cliche-ic to give such ending of the tiger and Pi living together more in the future. The twist in the end gave a little tickle to the mind on how such cruel being who became very lovable character as the story progresses can be so heartless (still) in the end. Now I know that a friendship with man and animal CAN happen, e.g. Jane Goodall and her chimpanzees as well as Dr. Janis and Lucy. I’ve heard countless stories of man and animal friendship from podcasts on RadioLab and its very intriguing how Yann Martel didn’t apply it in this book. Maybe he is trying to tell us that there are some friendships who really tend to grow apart as time progresses. It is not likely that happy endings happen to every story you read or experience, because it is part of the learning experience in life. There are really moments when you have to learn to let go and move on with your life. Just because there are some people who have stopped being there, the world does not along stop with them. You have to learn to keep moving forward with your life and keep going. There are bigger chances in the world, and a billion people to be friends with.
Third, this book has an incredible mixture of brutality, drama, as well as humor. I guess this is one of those books that you cannot let go after reading. I love how Yann Martel gave equality to the three words I gave. Brutality : Storm kills parents and almost everyone on board. Hyena kills zebra as well as orangutan. Tiger kills Hyena and Meerkats. I cannot describe how much my stomach turned and tumbled when reading about how the Hyena killed the Zebra. I have a terrible gift of imagination and so it is not surprising to me to visualize the brutality of the Hyena as he tries to feed on his preys. I was hoping it would have been as quick as how Richard Parker killed the Hyena. Drama: You cannot help but feel sad for Pi. I mean if I were in his shoes, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself as well. Everyone that I have loved, died and was left behind at the ship wreck. I guess, it just means that God truly has a ‘sole’ purpose for everyone. Humor: I smiled and laughed when Pi was discussing how his name was given, “Piscine Molitor” after the French swimming pool that was so clear you can actually drink it. I smiled when Pi was given the dilemma of actually choosing a religion. I mean most of us, when we were born we never question why we believe in God from the moment we were born. As if the ‘idea’ of God has been implanted in us when we were kids. Pi, asked questions and he got answers. Faith for him is wide and vast. I loved how he asked, “Why can’t I love all the gods?” I mean why can’t we? They are all but the same, and they serve the same purpose as The End of all Means. I also smiled when he was discussing how the tiger got his name Richard Parker, when supposedly he was supposed to get “Thirsty None Given”. But because of the idiotic man in customs who interchanged the name of the tiger with the hunter, the tiger got the name “Richard Parker” while the hunter got, “Thirsty None Given.”
Overall, I would give “Life of Pi” a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. It’s witty and charismatic character of Pi Patel is the kind of character you would look up to. Nevertheless, I admire how noble and courageous he was in keeping up with the tiger and surviving the vast waters of the Pacific Ocean. Yann Martel presented lovable characters with a polished story line that presented deeper values that is greater than any book I’ve ever read. It is truly a majestic book and is more than life. So after all of the Oscar buzz about Ang Lee, I guess you have to commend Yann Martel for creating a book that would and could inspire us all.
My next book will be: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (A Classic! I can’t wait!)
*Lucy the Chimpanzee’s story can be read by clicking HERE.