Life of Pi - Yann Martel Also on A Book With a View.ETA: About rating: These are probably the truest three stars I've ever given. More often than not, I give three stars to a very flawed novel I liked despite myself. In this case, I really just "liked it". It wasn't "meh", but it simply failed to stir me any further. Life of Pi is one of those books which read as whatever the reader wants them to be read as.Religion is often brought up when discussing Life of Pi. One might think it would not appeal to atheists. Agnostics, even more - main character pities them even more than atheists. Interestingly enough, it might not appeal to devoutly religious, either, for similar reasons.I was not sure what to define Pi's religious views as; I settled for kathenotheism, and it fit with my impression of Pi. Kathenotheism is related to Hinduism; Pi merely adds non-Hindu gods to his pantheon, to be praised as supreme when their turn comes. He was exposed to Hinduism first, so the notion of monodeism and historical and cultural significance it has for us are foreign to him. It's not as revolutionary or profound as it might sound.I'm not fond of being preached at, but I didn't feel it in this book. Maybe because I looked at Pi as a character, someone with his own way of thinking, his own virtues and flaws, rather than omniscient narrator that is supposed to impart words of wisdom to us. To me, his religion was simply a part of his character, not a subject to be judged as absolute right or wrong. How you will feel about it will depend on how you approach the book. But even those who feel annoyed by this facet of Pi might find satisfaction in the ending - one of the endings, that is.Theme that interested me much more than religion was nature. First, nature in the zoo - first time I heard good things said about the zookeeping, truth be told. Then, nature in the extreme conditions - survival on the boat with the danger within and without. Still, in both cases, we are presented with contrast of animal, primal, brutal, instinctive nature versus human, principled, civilised, controlled nature. However, as the time goes on and conditions become more extreme, we can see the expected degeneration of human into animal - but there is also a moment when animal becomes human. Third part toys with the limits even further - depending on which ending you go with. This exploration of nature is, appropriately, naturalistic. Which, while effective, might not be everyone's cup of tea. Brutality, gore and bodily waste might disturb those of delicate sensibilities.The ending(s) is what I loved about this book the most. It confirmed my first impression that this book is more open to interpretation than attempting to impose a single opinion. The point of the entire book is here. And keep in mind that whatever you hear about the ending from other people, it's their choice - what the ending will be for you will depend on yours. I cannot and I will not say any more, because the journey is as important as the goal here, and there is no point in discussing them separate from the rest of the narrative so far.Narrative, however, is what I found problematic at first. At first, I saw it as first-person-limited with stream-of-consciousness. But it's not entirely true, because there is a scene with Pi's parents where Pi is not present, and there is no way anyone but parents would know how the conversation went. It has a purpose, but I don't think it was necessary - it underlined rather than gave something new. I know the form is practically nonexistent these days, but it felt rather clumsy.Likewise, I didn't feel that the interruptions by the interviewer were necessary. Yes, they gave us more info about Pi, but none of it was really necessary to appreciate the story. Were they supposed to represent a journalist’s commentary? If so, why was a good chunk of Pi's story left uninterrupted? Surely the journalist would have some commentary on the survival drama. Didn't want to break the important part of the narrative? Don’t break any of it. ‘Interviewer's’ view of the Pi could have been put in the prologue and maybe the epilogue. Uneven distribution of the commentary was worse than its constant presence would have been. Yes, I realise this book was supposed to be divided in three parts; the part with the commentary being the first part, the one about Pi's childhood. But Pi was presumably telling this second part to the same person, connecting to the story about childhood. If the author was going for 'authentic' record, these two parts should have been consistent - in my opinion, at least.Still, shaky narrative techniques aside, the prose itself was very good. It was descriptive and rich without sounding like someone showing off what they learned in the creative writing class. Of course, combined with stream-of-consciousness, this creates a slow pace which I personally don't mind but I understand a number of readers consider problematic. Consider yourself warned.I’d recommend it to people who prefer literary to genre fiction, but those among them who like to take things at face value rather than examine author's motives. People who enjoyed The Old Man and the Sea might like it. People who enjoyed The Big Wave might like it. So might the people who liked The Red Tent. Fans of Paolo Coelho and Anthony de Mello. These suggestions are not so much about themes as the "feel" of the book. Because, really, impressions are what it is about, not facts.Is this review ambiguous? So is Life of Pi. I felt that painting it with my impressions would be misleading. You must decide what you want it to be: a fable, a parable, an eye-opener or a cliched "pearl of wisdom".I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.