The Coincidental Critic

Exploring the art of storytelling.

A look into “The Life of Pi” by Yann Martel (SPOILERS)


I finished “The Life of Pi” about two weeks ago, so this post will probably be rather short.

Let’s start from the beginning…

Part 1 of the book describes how Pi got his nickname, his involvement in religion, his family life, and life at the zoo.  This whole section is pretty much the “Let’s give you all the background information about the narrator all at once so you never second guess anything.”  Well just like that title, Part 1 was way too long.  It was boring and tedious.  I kept wondering when the plot would actually start.  I knew “The Life of Pi” was supposed to be about a boy lost at sea, but you don’t get to that main part of the story until you’re almost 100 pages in.  Having a creative writing minor, I was taught to start your story right away.  Start right in the beginning of the action because if you add too much detail in the beginning, your readers are sure to lose interest.  And in fact, I did.  I actually considered to stop reading the book (but as you’ll learn, I’m one who likes to finish books, no matter how difficult it may be to get through them).  Fortunately, I plowed through it until I got to my favorite part of the story: where the plot finally starts.

Martel’s concept of a boy lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean was so original and interesting.  I never realized how dark night can truly be until I read this book.  No wonder so many people are afraid of the dark.  And all of the descriptions Martel added about the sea, the animals, hunger, loss, and hope were absolutely beautiful.  His language was stunning, and he had so many great lines in the book that just made me re-think of how I view the world.

One part that I especially enjoyed were the descriptions of the animals.  Having worked at a zoo and studied animals, I found the descriptions not only interesting, but very accurate.  Martel obviously put in a lot of time researching for this book and it definitely paid off.

Now, for the infamous ending.  I was completely thrown off.  Martel pulled a sixth-sense ending that worked in his favor.  Not only was it unpredictable, but very believable.  While it made Pi’s story much darker and more desperate, it added a deeper level to the meaning of the book.  Martel’s commentary on how people tend to alleviate horrific situations was spot on.  However, I’m still going to pretend that Richard Parker is roaming the forests of Mexico, reminiscing about his times with his old pal, Pi, refusing to believe that anything worse ever happened.

Overall, I enjoyed “The Life of Pi.”  It was extremely well-written, and being a writer, I look to works like this for guidance and inspiration.  I recommend this book to fellow writers and anyone who wants to read a story unlike anything he/she has ever read before.

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This entry was posted on June 21, 2014 by in Book and tagged , , , , , .


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