Life of Pi (2001, 460 pages)
Wow. This one is a biggie. Man Booker winner, Oscar-winning film adaptation. I feel like Oprah probably loved this one!
Bad news though babies: we did not love.
The premise is this: “After deciding to sell their zoo in India and move to Canada, Santosh and Gita Patel board a freighter with their sons and a few remaining animals. Tragedy strikes when a terrible storm sinks the ship, leaving the Patels’ teenage son, Pi as the only human survivor. However, Pi is not alone; a fearsome Bengal tiger has also found refuge aboard the lifeboat. As days turn into weeks and weeks drag into months, Pi and the tiger must learn to trust each other if both are to survive.”
Kathleen: What if Life of Pi was just Bear with a tiger?
It would have been a beautiful world. It was not meant to be, though.
What WAS meant to be was not exciting and the pooping was very non-sexual. I found the writing on this book to be so very juvenile – at one point in the book, Pi is talking about the two men he knows named Mr. Kumar. He bumps into both of them at the same time, and then there is an entire page of “Mr. Kumar said this, then Mr. Kumar said that!” Shut up. We don’t think you’re clever. We get it, sometimes people have the same name.
There is also an entire chapter of him talking about how great zoos are. No they are not, Yann Martel. Stop it.
The entire first half of the book is just about Pi’s life in India, which is cutesy, and I might have enjoyed it when I was 12. But then it gets very, very violent. The second part of the book begins with a confusing jump into the future, and then jumps back to the present a chapter later. It’s the only time it happens in the book, and I literally thought there was an error in the audiobook I was listening to and double-checked in a physical copy of the book.
At the beginning of the book, Pi also spends a lot of time discovering different religions, which I was also pretty bored with. Either write a book about religion or don’t, people! (Lookin’ at you, C.S. Lewis)
Róisín: I didn’t love it. A lot of it was very cute and whimsical but that made the violence and gore all the more jarring. My mom loves this book and every time she makes a reference to it she says, “Wait, you’ve never read Life of Pi?” so there Mom, now I have! (Side note: My mom is older than 30 and a voracious reader but has only read 3 of the books on this list and this is one of them). I mean, it wasn’t what I was expecting so maybe that’s a win?
But unexpected in maybe not a great way? I wasn’t into it. I feel like the first two thirds was a lot of build-up and I thought I could see where it was going but then it was just kind of over after all that build up.
Kathleen: Can someone ask Oprah to call us and let us know why she liked it?
Róisín: I still feel like maybe I didn’t get it? Was I supposed to get more out of the religion theme maybe? Maybe I will watch the movie. I feel like it’s one of the only books on here with a film adaptation. (Although there’s probably almost 30 versions of Anne of Green Gables out there).
Should it be on the 30 before 30?
Kathleen: NOOOOPE. I’d rather read The Hatchet.
NEXT WEEK’S BOOK: All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews