Publisher's Note:  


New York Times Bestseller * Los Angeles Times Bestseller * Washington Post Bestseller * San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller * Chicago Tribune Bestseller

"A story to make you believe in the soul-sustaining power of fiction."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

After the sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a wounded zebra, an orangutan—and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary and beloved works of fiction in recent years.

Universally acclaimed upon publication, Life of Pi is a modern classic.

Life of Pi

by Yann Martel

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Overall Review:  

Life of Pi is a grand story about a small individual caught in a grand setting. Pi is a young man who has spent his life looking for truth and who finds it on in the lonely vastness of the Pacific Ocean.

The author thoughtfully delves into the weighty topics of philosophy and religion, using the innocence of a child to look at them in a fresh light. His knowledge of the various world religions that are discussed, as well as his assumption of how a young person would view each for the first time, is remarkable. Knowledge about various topics infuses the book with life. The many trivial details about animals are entertaining and informative, and these tidbits give an air of legitimacy to the story with regards to zookeeping.

Martel's writing style makes life on the open water very real. It is apparent that the author thoroughly researched what it would take to survive at sea, and the various trials and challenges that Pi encounters keep the reader in suspense. I found myself wanting to read more of the book, even when it was time to put it down and do something else, because I was so wrapped up in what was going on and anxious about how Pi would deal with the danger. This book was thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  2 religious exclamations; 5 mild obscenities; 10 scatological words.

Note: The word "God" is used to refer to the divine entity several times, the word "hell" is used as a religious reference to the place a few times, and the word "ass" is used in place of "donkey". (None of these cases are tallied.)

Violence/Gore:  Report of an animal killed; two mentions of the violent history of specific religions; description of the wounds on a crucifix; scene with a few recounts of religious stories that contain violence; a few characters drown; a ship sinks; a few animals kill other animals with little detail; a character tries to drown another; scene in which characters throw another character off a ship and an animal is badly wounded with broken bones piercing the skin; gory description of pack hunting tactics (scientific, not horrific or scary); an animal has scars from past injury; a few scenes in which an animal kills another in a detailed bloody manner; report of many people killed by an animal; tense scene with a danger from an animal; character contemplates ways in which he could die; a character drinks animal blood a few times; characters are beaten by animals; a character agonizes over having to kill an animal; description of animal carcasses; gross boils described; an animal is butchered, and the process is described graphically; an animal hits a character repeatedly; mention of self-harm; death by the environment; recount of animal killing two people; a corpse is described in gory detail; an animal kills a character; an animal kills many other animals without detail; human remains are found; a gory medical procedure with primitive instruments is detailed and is very bloody; a character is butchered and eaten by other characters; a character slaps another; a few characters are killed in graphic, very bloody ways including dismemberment or decapitation; disturbing scene in which one animal is fed to another to illustrate violence; character verbally threatens another; list of several ways to be killed by animals, with some of the descriptions being graphic; report of an animal shot; list of several ways in which animals are injured or tortured by zoo visitors.

Sex/Nudity:  A phallic representation is among religious symbols in a collection; characters dance; a few references to animals breeding; characters kiss; mention of a dog on a person's leg;  mention of an animal's genitals (2 instances); a character spends a large part of the book naked (no sexual connotation); mention of people being obsessed with sex; mention of sexual deviance and incest in animals; character is said to be naked while changing (no description); humorous recount of woman who loses her clothes; "onanism" mentioned.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Character drinks animal blood, eats excrement, and drinks urine, cannibalism, death (family member, friend, pet), the subject of religion is dealt with in detail in this book--with aspects of Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and atheism presented for consideration and agnosticism also mentioned.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Cigarettes are mentioned; adult characters drink alcohol, including beer; medications are mentioned for possible use as sedatives.

Reviewed By Calinda
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