My book club tackled “The Life of Pi” by Yann Martel for December, and it was quite the experience. We’ve read a novel where children were killed (“The Hunger Games”) and yet, “The Life of Pi” was disturbing in a whole new way.
The brutality of the animal kingdom comes through these pages, as a 15-year-old boy is stranded on a large lifeboat with a 450-pound Bengal tiger. At first, there are a few other animals on the boat, which the tiger picks off one at a time.
While the gory descriptions and detail didn’t bother me, it made me sad and my book club and I were surprised to realize how the animal deaths were more disheartening than the deaths of “The Hunger Games.”
It could be how the author handles each scenario. But in war movies, why is it we are more disturbed when animals are slaughtered than throngs of warriors?
In “The Life of Pi,” the main character forms an interesting relationship with this tiger, which comes to a strange conclusion that I won’t give away. This conclusion, however, was one of the most unfulfilling parts of the whole book, meaning the author succeeded in getting the reader to empathize for the protagonist.
In this ultimate “Survivor” meets “Castaway” book, Pi must do anything he can to survive, catching and eating fish, turtles and anything else he can find. Its unrestrained realism and in-depth explanations left me feeling a little seasick myself.
An interesting book with a unique writing style and execution, “The Life of Pi” is not for the faint of heart. Still, it is a noteworthy piece of literature. It is being turned into a movie directed by Ang Lee set to be released in 2011.