Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. Yann Martel
We meet an adult Pi Patel describing the details of his childhood and the events that led him to Canada to our author. Piscine “Pi” Molitor Patel was a local Indian Tamil boy in Pondicherry, India and his father ran Pondicherry Zoo where Pi encountered all kinds of animals. He also met different religious figures which led him to become a Hindu-Christian-Muslim, believing in all the different variations of God. Pi felt connections to the animals and to his Gods, and kept his faith when his father decided to move his zoo and his family to Canada following ‘The Emergency’ in India. They sailed for Canada but for unknown reasons their ship sank and Pi found himself alone on a lifeboat with Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger.
This book was beautiful. I am in no way religious but I felt the emotion and faith behind the words when Pi talks of his Gods. There were metaphors upon similes, similes upon metaphors, each used in such a way to enhance the reading experience to its fullest. Every page was filled with progression and the right level of pace, I felt that I was learning just the correct amount of information about Pi’s life at each point, never overwhelmed or underwhelmed.
Recently I went on a sloth experience to feed and spend some time with a sloth. The opening pages discussed the differences between two-toed and three-toed sloths and I found it fascinating, the level of science pumped into the book brought it to another level. I really appreciated some of Richard Parker’s actions being explained to me, although being a cat owner I was oblivious to the different levels of purring and what they meant, especially in a big cat. Did you know that big cats can only purr on outwards breathes? I didn’t! I combination of fact and fiction always makes me more intrigued in a story, it makes it feel more real for me.
Finding the truth is a main part of this story. We follow Pi through his narration of his time in the Pacific with Richard Parker and at no point did I doubt his story. It was a wild story but that it was made it believable for me, all of the pieces joined together so well. Pi’s animal knowledge, his faith, I couldn’t not believe it. But then there is always room for doubt, the final chapters find *SPOILER* in a hospital in Mexico being questioned by the sunken ship investigators made me question the entire 300-page book, was everything Pi explained a lie? Just his sun-fried mind trying to make sense of the entire experience? I sway more toward his story being the truth because the other alternative was too gory for me, I like to think he found a friend in Richard Parker and he didn’t have to watch his own mother be decapitated.
I loved this book, it was a slow burner in parts but only when it was needed, it was filed with emotion and I cried with Pi when he was left alone, and again when Richard Parker left without a goodbye. I have to say there were parts with the animal and human gore that didn’t sit well with me, they were few and far between but I have a severely low tolerance to animal deaths/violence even in books (Cujo is very low on my TBR list) which will prevent me revisiting this anytime soon.