A roller coaster of life in Life of Pi - Novel Review

Life of Pi is not a typical book you would easily find in a bookstore. It is, in the deepest sense, a book about life. This book exposes the journey of a young Indian boy named Pi Patel who survives from a tragic sunken ship and struggling to stay alive in a boat with a Bengal tiger.

At a glance, this book is dominated with a journey that seems impossible for a normal people to encounter with. However, if you look closely, you would find that every scene and every event in this book is just an alteration of our daily life. Yann Martel, the author, gives Life of Pi a touch of magic to make even the most mundane thing in life transformed into something spectacular. This book is filled to the brim with fascinating plot line and captivating words. Martel has certainly deserved receiving The Man Booker Award 2002.
Life of Pi [cover]

Life of Pi unfolds with an author's note as the first chapter—a fictitious author not Yann Martel—who travels to India and meets a guy whom tempts him with a story with a promising appeal, 'A story that can make you believe in God.'. Then, the book takes an interesting turn through a story within a story about an Indian boy named Piscine Molitor Patel or Pi.

Pi is a stubborn boy with a very distinct perspective of the world. Pi’s father is a zoo owner. After facing a financial crisis, Pi and his family—including the rest of the zoo's animal—is moving to Canada using a Japanese cargo ship, Tsim Tsum. In the middle of the journey, surrounded by deep ocean and no land in sight, the ship sinks, leaving Pi in deep grief as the only human survivor, along with an orangutan, a hyena, a zebra, and a bengal tiger.

Later on, this book describes a barbaric practice of survival of the fittest. The animals, as expected, kill each other and leaving the Bengal tiger as the prime predator in the small boat. Pi struggles to live and defeat the tiger amidst all of the chaos and scarcity of food and drinkable water.

Details of Pi’s struggle to survive are conveyed in an intriguing art of writing. On the contrary, though the plot of this book is rather dreadful, the writing style is not gruesome—filled with blood or tears—but contain just enough despair to make our hearts feel hollow. Martel indeed has an enchanting way of telling Pi's desperation to stay alive, to conquer the boat—for it is the sole divider between life and death in the ocean— and to tame the only living creature aside of him, a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

This book tells you about the value of life. It brings you an important message to not take life for granted, even the hideous and fanged part of life which makes you cower in fear. It teaches you to embrace life, to accept every component of it, for there's always a reason behind everything in God's grand of scheme.

One of the uniqueness of this book is how the plot rolls. Unlike other novels which typically tells the story directly and cut to the chase, Life of Pi delivers another way. Pi’s story of survival is told as a story within a story, another applause for Yann Martel. Life of Pi is truly a story which can make you believe in God. Hence, in every part of the book, God exists and helps Pi through unthinkable ways. Another lesson that can be taken from this book is that God is always there. He may not give us the quickest way to get out of our problem, but He is always there with us. As long as you do not forget to look up and ask for His mercy, He will always help.

Although Life of Pi has a comparable premise with Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe—about surviving in an isolated place in a long period of time—it is not very similar. Robinson Crusoe focuses on the story of survival, while Life of Pi focuses on the spiritual meaning of every struggle, the obstacle in life which takes form in a tiger, and the existence of God.

There are tons of reasons why this book is a must read. However there are also several weaknesses of this book. Since this book is a story of survival, do not expect sunshine and rainbow. This book is not for the faint of heart. Also, Pi’s perspective of life is a lot distinct from average person. Therefore, not every Pi’s opinion suits our thinking.

Overall, Life of Pi is a roller coaster of feels filled with twisted turns and unexpected slides. It is highly recommended for people who need a glimmer of motivation and inspiration in life. Life of Pi has a charming way to change how we see the world, to be thankful of what we have, and to accept life as it is.


Defoe, D. (1719). Robinson Crusoe. W. Taylor. UK.

Martel, Y. (2012). Life of Pi. Cannongate Books Ltd., Edinburgh.