I thought I should respond to Tory’s post below, as she calls me out for disliking Life of Pi. Before I begin my defence, I have to say I read the novel years ago, shortly after it received the Booker. I was working at a bookstore at the time and I remember (what must have been) Christmas 2003 we only sold two books- Life of Pi and Paris 1919. For my part I tried my hardest to push for Paris 1919 (so if you haven’t read it, head to your local library NOW). That being said it has been over 7 years, so you will have to forgive me if I misplace some details. I should probably re-read it before passing too much judgement, but what fun would that be?
On with the show- Why didn’t I like Life of Pi? Well, in a way I did like it, at the beginning anyway. I was intrigued by the character of Pi, particularly his curiosity about religions; his unusual circumstances; his humour. And then he was on a life boat with talking animals. I have nothing wrong with this in theory; but in practice it just didn’t work. I felt as though I lost all the things I liked about Pi. As the days on the boat progressed and the tiger ate the other animals I felt less and less like I cared. I just didn’t buy into it. It wasn’t believable (not in the do I believe that this would happen in “real” life, but do I believe that in this fictional world, these characters that had been created for me would do this). The whole middle section seemed incongruous with the first part of the novel.
And then the ending, the twist (or not twist)- were they animals or humans? I didn’t mind this part, in a way I felt as though it tied into Pi’s wrestle with the various religions at the beginning. Pi started the novel by exploring truths and we finish the novel exploring the true story. But it was too late, I had lost interest and it wasn’t that surprising of a twist. As the whole story felt as if it was meant to be a fable or metaphor (not a bad thing) that Martel chose to lead us to such an obvious ‘what if’ bothered me. I have complained before about authors not letting me find my own way and Life of Pi fits into that complaint.
All in all, I felt like Martel had a great idea for novel and just didn’t execute it well. When it came out that the idea wasn’t really his (see Max and the Cats by Moacyr Scliar) I moved Life of Pi firmly into the not like category.
I have placed his new novel on hold at the library. I am 406th in line, but once it gets in I will try my best to be unbiased.