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Life of Pi: Half-Way Finished Review

I'm currently reading Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, which I'm really enjoying.  I'm about half-way through it and, even though most people finish a book before writing about it, I want to do the half-way finished review.  This is because I'm 100% certain it will continue to be great all the way to the end.  It takes quite a bit of time and energy to finish a book so, before I start something, I always read reviews to make certain I will enjoy it.  Recently I read a book purely based on a friend's recommendation and that felt like a big waste of time.  Why I didn't quit the book early, I'm not sure.  I suppose it just wasn't bad enough to justify quitting in the middle.  There was always the hope that it would get better. 

As for Life of Pi, I would best describe it as "pretty," or "cute."  Go ahead and make fun of me, but I say those adjectives with complete confidence in my masculinity.  By "pretty" I mean the description is vibrant: there are many colors, a variety of animals and nice paragraphs focused on the sky and landscapes of India.  I call it cute because it's a story about children and it begins in a zoo.  For example, there are many funny interractions that can take place between a kid and an orangutan.  It's cute in an "aah the kid is playing with the animals" sort of way.

I'm also pleased that, despite being a simple adventure story, there is some depth to this work.  One example is Pi, the main character, is very interested in religion.  This is such a strong passion that he finds the courage to take on three different religions at the same time.  Thus, the reader gets to learn about the Hindu, Buddhist and Christian religions.  There are also some nice thoughts about the meaningfulness of our lives.  Are we completely irrelevant in this giant universe, or is there some significance to us being alive?  This book argues for the latter, which I love because it makes me feel important.

Overall though, this is an adventure tale, a story of survival.  The poor kid is stuck on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean, with the twist being that there is also a tiger on board.  As a result, much of Pi's time is spent trying to figure out how not to become the tiger's lunch.  I knew this was the premise of the book before I started reading it and I honestly expected Pi and the tiger to become friends.  So far this isn't the case, instead Pi figured out a way to train the giant cat.  He manages to become the alpha male and keeps the tiger at bay psychologically.  This is far more realistic than some Winnie The Pooh type story where the human boy becomes good friends with the animal.  If you go into this book expecting it to be like the Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, you will be disappointed. 

One thing I find strange is, I'm in the middle of the book and Pi has already accomplished so much.  He has figured out how to get water, his fishing skills are great and he nearly has complete control over the tiger.  It seems not much else could happen that would get my heart pumping.  Combine that with the fact that the reader knows how it's going to end and I'm really not sure how this book will continue to hold my interest.  Hopefully some great adventures happen soon, because right now they are simply drifting along, with Pi having already figured out everything needed for survival.  This is perplexing to me because there is still so much left to read. 

Overall this is a fun, quick read that I would recommend to anyone in the mood for something light.  I just finished reading Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison and, compared to that, this is a breeze.  It took me 2 months to read Invisible Man (I can be a slow reader) and I already know Life of Pi will take less than 2 weeks.  Sometimes it's nice to read a book that isn't so taxing on me emotionally and mentally, although overall I do prefer the more difficult variety.