Blame Hurricane Matthew and the lack of power for 5 days, but somehow I forgot to post my review of Yann Martel's Life of Pi when I originally finished it. Well, ya know what they say, better late than never. So, without further adieu, I give you this long overdue blog post:
I just finished Life of Pi by Yann Martel, and, though I rarely (never) say this, I think the movie was much better than the book. For those of you that haven't seen the movie or read the book, Life of Pi, is about a young boy from India whose family owns a Zoo. Pi Patel grows up learning from and loving this little slice of heaven. Then, for political reasons, his father and mother decide to sell the zoo and move to Canada. They secure passage from India to Canada on a Japanese freighter. For unknown reasons, the freighter sinks in the middle of the Pacific ocean. Only Pi survives, making his way onto one of the life boats. He is joined by an injured Zebra, a hynea, an oranatang, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. For obvious reasons, Pi soon finds himself left with only Richard Parker as a companion (because RP eats the other animals). Pi must learn how to survive in impossible conditions, all while learning how to tame a Bengal tiger, one of the most dangerous predators on earth. Pi spends more than 200 days lost at sea before he is finally rescued, but the majority of the story concerns his experiences while on the lifeboat with Richard Parker. At the end, Pi tells his story to the Japanese company that owned the freighter and they don't believe him. He then retells the whole story, but instead of animals with him on the lifeboat, there are other passengers from the crew. The readers are left to wonder if Pi's story was true, or simply allegorical.
So, why do I say that the movie was better than the book? Well, for those of you that have seen the movie, the graphics in it are absolutely stunning. Probably some of the best cinematography I've ever seen. In fact, in 2013 the movie won a myriad of awards including the Academy Award for Best Director, Best Visual Affects, Best Cinematography, and Best Special Visual Affects. So when I say the movie is visually amazing, I'm not alone in my thoughts. But the reason the cinematography has to be so amazing is becuase, not a lot happens in the book in terms of action. Most of the book is Pi's inner thoughts about how he's surviving. He describes the amazing things he sees, but those things are much better actually seen than read about and imagined. The book also seems somewhat disconnected and random. For example, an obscene amount of time is spent explaining how Pi got his name. It's very interesting to read about the story, but it is in no way connected to anything else in the novel so it seems really random. Also, toward the end, it seems like Yann Martel really wanted to have an even 100 chapters, so some of the chapters included are really pointless. For example, Ch. 97's entire contents are the words, "The story."
Now, I'm fully aware that my opinion of this story is generally not shared by others. I've heard plenty of people remark, after reading this book, that it was "so deep" and that they really enjoyed the allegorical implications at the end of the novel. Well, that's all fine and good, but as for me, I felt cheated. Why did I just read 300 pages only to find out that it wasn't true? Or maybe it was true. The reader is left to wonder. Well me, I like to know where I stand, so being left to wonder if I just wasted my time reading this story where in the end the author is like "just kidding" - well it doesn't sit well with me.
So, Life of Pi, to read or not to read. Honestly, if you like to think deeply about what you're reading and being left to wonder then knock yourself out. If not, watch the movie. Trust me, it's good.