There are some books that you know you are going to love the moment you lay eyes on them. This is a rare occurrence but when it happens, it is very supernatural. Life of Pi was one of these magical books. I first heard of it from school when some kids had to read it over summer vacation. I've always enjoyed my summer reading books and while I enjoyed All Quiet on the Western Front, I really wished I had been assigned Life of Pi to read before sophomore year. A few years later I bought the book used and let it sit on my bookshelf way longer than I should have. After finally reading it, I'm sorry I waited so long.
Life of Pi is about a boy named Piscine Patel. When kids make fun of him by calling him "Pissing", he takes a stand and gives himself a nickname: Pi. Three point one four. Pi's father owns a zoo and he himself is a big supporter of zoo's and makes a very valid case for them throughout the book. Pi is also unique in that he is raised Hindu and takes on Christianity and Islam later (though still a young boy). When Pi's family decides to move the zoo to Canada, their ship sinks and Pi is the only survivor on a life boat along with an orangutang, a hyena, a zebra, and a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker. Pi's sea adventure is what takes up three quarters of this book.
The premise of this story is a very simple one - boy and tiger are stranded in the middle of the ocean and must survive. Critics say it is a book that will make you believe in the power of fiction and there are even some who dare to say this book will make you believe in God. The book carries a very delicate innocence yet also invests in exposing the raw and messy side of faith and life. The author leaves a lot of room by the end for the reader to be involved and decide their own interpretation which I really loved. The book also insists upon making the distinction between humans and animals which is a very interesting idea to read about. The story was well paced and the details were incredible. Pi himself is a wonderful character and I found I could stick behind him no matter what. Martel is an excellent storyteller and author and he kept me heavily invested in the story.
This was definitely the best book I have read all year thus far. I rate it 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it!