I saw the film adaptation of Pi before I ever intended to read the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The cinematography and actor choice was spot on. From what I remember, it’s been a while since I’ve seen it, the film thoroughly engaged me and made me want to continue to experience the life of Pi. So when I read the book last semester in London, buying the British version, which is much better than the American one, I was rewarded for waiting a long gap period to be exposed to the story again. I remembered most of the story enough to make me speed through the book but not enough to spoil some of the surprises hidden in Pacific waves.
The prose flowed in my head in a cinematic quality. I loved the parts between Pi and the reporter in Canada, instantly reminding me of the potency of the scenes in the film. The dialogue carried out like a finely tuned radio in my head. I underlined passages I found influential that spoke to me as well as to Piscine. Such as those times when Pi explored each of the religions he found in his area. I too am a religious studies enthusiast, who can easily view my faith and others through a secular lense with equality. I found Pi’s curiosity for the world and his confusion as to why he could not be both Christian and Muslim to be one of his most endearing qualities, one that I related to.
Martel was an expert at presenting ideas and the world of his characters to the reader. I was mostly interested in studying how he handled the character of the tiger, Richard Parker. I myself am writing a story with a tiger in it and wanted to see how a pro did it. Pi’s obsession with the tiger’s companionship at the end when he washed up on the shores of Mexico echo the love readers have for the beast. I was devastated when he abandoned Pi on the beach, never to see him again. I was on tender hooks the whole while Pi was training Richard Parker to keep to delineate territory. Martel’s pacing was masterful. His knowledge of zoology and animal behaviors still makes me wonder how much research he put into the brainstorming process of this book.
The graphic images Martel depicted of the variety of species Pi consumed while at sea made me cringe, yet I found myself hungry whenever I sat down to read. The places too were beautifully described from the ship and building of the raft, to the storm of flying fish, to the floating algae island. Despite the dreadful situation Pi was stranded in, I found myself lucky to be peering through the window of these pages to witness the amazing life that was created. A life I would recommend anyone read if they want to enjoy an enticing story about the nature of man’s relationship with the elements, the divine, and with himself.