Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.
I'm not sure how to review this book without spoilers in every other sentence, so I'm just going to spoiler tag the entire entry.
I can't say I loved this book, in the end, or even that I really liked it as much as the 4 stars would indicate. I loved parts of it, where the writing was so compelling that it immersed me in Pi's experience and I could feel his sensations and emotions and see through his eyes. There were parts that were so interesting that my curiosity and desire for more towed me through great chunks of boredom. Throughout the shipwreck section of the story, I was amused by the way Pi would offer an explanation almost immediately following my conscious thoughts about the implausibility of some story element, as though he were actually telling me a story and reading my disbelief on my face. So it engaged my interest and emotions for three days, and that was enough to overcome the rest and pull it up to four stars.
Part 1 drew me in as Pi explored several religions, comparing and contrasting them. I was touched and amused at the scene where his many religious teachers met together and condemned one another for lies and heresy, exposing some of the ugliness of organized religion, while poor Pi could only see the beauty in each faith and wanted to embrace them all. Still, I grew impatient for the story to move along.
Part 2 was uneven, and at times seemed endlessly tedious. I was able to overlook the gaps in logic with Pi's earnest but still implausible explanations, because I liked him and wanted to believe.
Part 3 left me disappointed. The endless sea journey terminated so abruptly that I checked my ipod twice to see if I'd missed a section. The Japanese investigators seemed like caricatures. The narrative shift to recorded transcript felt too flat in comparison to the richness of the first two thirds of the book. The entire third part felt contrived and tacked on, like the author lost interest in the story and just wound it up quickly so he could go off to dinner, or something.
This was the audio version, borrowed from my public library via Overdrive. It used two different readers, to poor effect. One read the "author's" voice, and the other read Pi's voice. Like the story itself, it fell apart in the final third of the book, where the narrator was unable to successfully switch between the voices of Pi and the investigators, and the accent of one would bleed into the accent of the other for the first few words, leaving me struggling to distinguish between who was speaking.