Discussing Life of Pi–Be Aware, Spoilers Below

Happy Monday! We had a wonderful weekend in London. Yesterday was sunny and we stayed outside for most of the day. I have a minor sunburn to prove it. I’m more pink than red and it doesn’t hurt. This morning the fog has rolled in and I don’t think we’ll see the sun much for the next few days, according to the weather report. Of course, the sun is making an appearance as I write this, so maybe the forecasters are wrong!

Today I’m writing about the novel, Life of Pi. This will not be like my normal reviews. The Guat and I read this together, but life conspired against us and delayed our discussion for weeks. This post will be filled with spoilers. If you haven’t read or seen the movie and plan to, please stop reading now. I’m not kidding. Major spoilers coming up.

When this book first came out I never planned on reading it. A boy and a tiger stranded in a boat together in the middle of the ocean … that sounded too depressing and boring to me. Then the book appeared on my 1001 books you must read. Dang it! I had to read it. The Guat mentioned this summer that she wanted to read it and we decided to read it together.

What struck me was how the author sucked me in right away. I enjoyed the parts about the zoo and all the religions that Pi learned. Then when they got on the ship to move I started to get nervous. Would I hate the rest of the story?

I won’t lie, there are depressing parts. And occasionally I got somewhat bored. Maybe bored isn’t the right word. You see, I’m an animal lover. So when a hyena is attacking a zebra, that’s upsetting for me. Reading about killing and eating turtles—upsets me as well so I tend to zone out. It’s like covering my eyes during a horror flick. Parts of this book are difficult to read. Parts of this book are hard to believe. Then something happened. I did believe. I really started to believe. And I was cheering for Pi and for Richard Parker.

Then something else happened. Near the end, it’s revealed that maybe the story didn’t happen the way it was told. Instead of being stuck on the boat with animals (most of the animals don’t last long except for the tiger, Richard Parker), Pi is actually on a boat with his mother and a couple of the crew members. This kinda ruined the book for me. I didn’t want to think that people were killing each other to survive. It’s much easier to read about a hyena attacking a wounded zebra. That’s in their nature. But a crew member killing another to eat—that’s much harder to take.

Of course, the fact that I cared so much about the ending proved to me that I really liked the story. I didn’t want the “truth” to come out. And since I completed this book weeks ago I’ve tried hard to bury the “truth” and only think of the fantasy. I don’t think I’m alone. And if I ever stumble upon a Bengal tiger in Mexico I’ll say, “Hello, Richard Parker.”

The Guat will be posting her thoughts later today.  She’s on California time and I’m located in London. Don’t you just love the power of blogging. An international book club!

If you’ve read the book, please join our discussion. And if you’ve read this far, I hope I didn’t ruin the book for you, but I did warn you.

Have you ever liked a book you thought you would hate?

Before I go, Hilary Grossman, author of Dangled Carat, interviewed me today on her blog. Also, she has a giveaway on her blog. Hop on over and sign up!

Update: Hop over here to read TG’s post. 

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American living in England. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs, or reading. Not necessarily in that order.
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59 Responses to Discussing Life of Pi–Be Aware, Spoilers Below

  1. Personally the feeling that I came away with was that it was up to me to make up my mind which version of the story that I believed. I actually found it harder to believe the story about his mother and the crew members, as daft as that sounds. It was a beautiful film though, truly a spectacly 🙂

    • TBM says:

      After all the time he spent describing the story about Pi and the tiger when he broaches the other possibility it just doesn’t seem real. It does sound crazy, but I want to believe in Richard Parker. I haven’t seen the film yet. I’m worried it will be too hard on me–the animal stuff and suffering. I don’t watch a lot of movies with animals in them since I tend to cry a lot.

    • The Guat says:

      Yes! After all that time and effort he spent “taming” him I was like no way! No way. I prefer the Richard Parker version as well. And I agree with you. The film was pretty awesome. 🙂

  2. I felt the same way about finding out the alternative story, I really wanted to believe in the tiger

    • TBM says:

      I know. And the fact that his mom was in the boat–that really made me cringe. If his mom survived that would have been easier, but having to go through that ordeal and then also watch your mom die … too much for me to handle. I believe in Richard Parker!

      • The Guat says:

        Yes … I’m part of the Richard Parker fan club. If I used Twitter I’d hashtag it somehow. But first I’d find out what a hashtag was :).

      • TBM says:

        I was reading a book about book blog tours last night and it said I should create a hashtag to center a discussion around my tour and I was like, “Okay, I know the button on my keyboard, but how do I do that?” Actually, I’m looking at my keyboard and I don’t see it.

      • The Guat says:

        You’re too funny. Once you get your hashtag going I’ll get on Twitter.

      • TBM says:

        You probably have a few years of peace and quiet then 😉

  3. I saw the film in the States in January, and I don’t think I can take the book, for reasons already expressed by you and others. It’s an amazing story, that’s for sure!

  4. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I read it when it was first published and I know I enjoyed it at the time – like you I thought I wouldn’t – but I don’t remember very much and wasn’t drawn to the movie.

  5. Both texts are wonderful. I believe in Richared Parker. Nice write up! 🙂

  6. poppytump says:

    Not seen or read TBM but so interesting to hear what you had to say about it ! … I think I might cry too 😦

  7. aFrankAngle says:

    I didn’t read the book, and I missed the movie …. time for a rental!

  8. lynnsbooks says:

    I haven’t read this due to your spoiler alert. I still hold out that I may eventually get round to reading it! You never know….
    Lynn 😀

  9. This book sucked me in so slowly, I didn’t even realise it had until I reached the point with the alternative story line and really didn’t want to believe that was the true plot and I had been hoodwinked. I liked the fact Martel left it open to reader interpretation.

    • TBM says:

      he does have a way of making you fall for it slowly, piece by piece, until you can’t believe anything else. I did enjoy that bit when he left it up to the readers to decide which is true.

    • The Guat says:

      Yeah. I agree with you. It took me slowly, but once I was in … I was all in, except maybe Meerkat Island. And then when I got to the “truth” I couldn’t believe it either. Hoodwinked indeed 🙂

  10. IsobelandCat says:

    I gave up on this book. I enjoyed the opening ages, but then it didn’t engage me, and like you, I found the hyena/zebra part very distasteful. Other friends have loved it. I shan’t be trying again.
    Don’t be deceived by the mists. Think Ketas. We haven’t had a fog yet. Wait until November!

  11. I LOVED Richard Parker …. but I thought it was Richard Barker? I didn’t read the book but the movie was Am-Azing!

  12. I saw the movie and I loved it.

    My friend had the novel but I could not get myself to read it because she said the it was “too tedious” and she kept skipping chunks of it.

  13. bulldog says:

    I have not read the book,, but I did enjoy the movie…

  14. Pingback: Choosing Your Own Story and The Real Richard Parker | The Wish Factor

  15. Hi! I read this book back when it was first published quite a few years ago. It was suggested by my English teacher at the time, and I did enjoy it as a teenager. I saw the movie as well, it doesn’t include very harsh scenes as I recall. But I never see a movie that is based on a book right after I read the book because it always disappoints me this way. I always wait a few years until I start to forget at least the detail of the book.

  16. The Guat says:

    I love that you have such an awesome discussion rolling here. And I agree with you. It was a slow and steady rise to believe in the whole scenario, but Martel did such a great job. I was a total believer in the end and then when that twist happened …. DUDE! I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t wait to talk to you about it! I was like, what! I totally agree with you, when I go down to Mexico and if I see a Bengal tiger I’m gonna say “what up Richard Parker! TB says hi.”

    Good post and great review my friend. 🙂

    • TBM says:

      Thanks for reading with me. I was hesitant to read this on my own and you helped. Just knowing I wasn’t alone and would have someone to talk to. And if I run into Richard Parker in Mexico I’ll tell him “TG says hi, dude!” I totally expect to see him one day.

      Loved your review. I added the link to my post. Thanks again and we should do it again.

      • The Guat says:

        Thanks! And I agree it felt good to know I had someone reading it with me too. If you have another five months and want to pick up another book let me know. 🙂 I’m still waiting on the paperback version of A Woman Lost. I’m poor and Kindle-less. But maybe that can be our next book 🙂

      • TBM says:

        I happen to know the story of A Woman Lost inside and out 🙂 And the paperback version is being formatted as we speak. But let’s choose another story. Nothing too large, but something totally awesome. I may have to think and check out goodreads. What genres do you like? And take all the time you need. I’m never in a rush. Ask my partner who is constantly saying, “Will you stop meandering and keep up!”

      • The Guat says:

        I like dramas, underdog stories, romance, crime thrillers. All kinds of stuff, but not too fond of science fiction. Let me know what you think, or if I find something I’ll let you know 🙂

      • TBM says:

        I’ve been in the mood for crime thrillers. I recently read The Big Sleep and loved it. My review will be out soon–I keep saying that, so don’t hold your breath.

  17. Caroline says:

    Your warning made me skim your review. Sorry but I wanted to read it before watching the film.
    The premise didn’t really appeal to me all that much but then I got it anyway.

  18. The book didn’t appeal to me at all, but there was so much hoopla, we finally went to see the movie. It is visually stunning, but the ending? Oh noooooo, say it isn’t so. I’ll take Richard Parker any day. Magical realism works for me!

  19. samokan says:

    It’s been a long long long time since I read the book but I still remember my reaction towards the end. I also did not want to learn the “truth” of what really happened in the boat. Have not watched the movie yet, I have to read it again before watching it. 🙂

    • TBM says:

      Oh man when he started telling the truth I was shouting, “Nooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I wonder if there are any clues to the “truth” if I read it again.

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