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Life of Pi, by Yann Martel: Review

"A boy. A tiger. And the vast Pacific Ocean."


Ah, where to begin? I recently read this book after watching the film and fell in love with Martel's intricate prose. I have an immense appreciation for a good literary novel, and Life of Pi was one for the shelf: beautifully written, gut-wrenchingly real, challenging, profoundly philosophical, and above all anchored in a young protagonist's life-sustaining faith.


Martel is wordy in a purposeful way. His protagonist, Pi, is a treasure in his gentle heart yet utterly honest about the shadows, fangs, and claws he finds in himself. The story ebbs and flows through plot points, backstory, and philosophical observations, as fluid as the ocean that is Pi's entire world. Though slow at times, the pacing never bothered me: Martel's bite-sized chapters had me totally addicted.


As far as Content Notes go, there's basically one issue: the book is heavily religious, but in some questionable ways, Pi being a simultaneously devout Hindu, Christian, and Muslim. The theology here is muddy—Jesus makes it clear that he is the way, the truth, and the life, and no man comes to God but by him, so the idea of just tacking Christ onto a list of religions puts Pi on shaky salvational ground. However, I must say that it was delightful to read a mainstream novel that openly praises Christ as wonderful, divine, and life-giving. And the specifics of Pi's beliefs aside, the message that predominates from cover to cover is Pi's unwavering zeal to love and serve and know God in all aspects of life. This is the novel's beating heart.


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