I loved Life of Pi. I'm sure you did too, and that that's why you're thinking about getting Beatrice and Virgil. I thought this book was even better. If you're reading these reviews, then you know by now that the ending of this book is shocking and sad, and that such endings are not for everybody. Perhaps I, having read those other reviews in advance, was inoculated from the shock of that ending, even as I spent the entire book in suspense, knowing that something awful was going to happen before it was over. Perhaps as a result of this forewarning (or perhaps not), I found the ending as brilliant and satisfying as it was disturbing and horrifying.
Prior to that ending, as even the harshest critics of the book here seem to agree, Yann Martel writes throughout with the same beautiful, flowing prose that made Life of Pi such an achievement. It is the audio-equivalent of a page-turner, every bit as much as that earlier book was.
Finally, I also want to praise the pitch-perfect performance delivered by Mark Bramhall. I normally feel that the best that a narrator of an audiobook can aspire to accomplish is simply to stay out of the author's way. But Bramhall narrates with such perfect emotional resonance, endowing each character with so much life and personality, that I believe that anyone who reads only the text version of this book will have missed out on the full experience of it.
I liked reading to this book. However I had it set to the second speed most of the time. While listening and reading at the same time at actual speed, I kept getting too far ahead of the reader!
I really wanted to like this book, I loved the Life of Pi, but it was so incredibly slow going that I just couldn't get into the groove of it. The subject matter is presented in such a bland way in the beginning, that it's hard to find a reason to continue, and the narration is less than inspiring.
Even though the same mode of strong symbolism is carried through on this book by the author of the wonderful Life of Pi, it does not have the same draw early on. It is a little difficult to stay with it for the payoff. Having read Life of Pi, I did stick it out and was glad I did but it was clearly not nearly as compelling as Pi.
This is the first audible book I've ever deleted. The violent imagery is not what I expected from the writer of the Life of Pi. The "story" is disjointed, goes nowhere and is just dark & disturbing. I don't recommend this title to anyone.
It was a Holocaust parallel (they keep reminding you), but it was pretty week. A couple of animals that were stuffed had a story to tell through a taxidermists voice. As Simon says' "I guess I just don't get it". What was the point of the torturing of animals? Yes, the Holocaust was gruesome, but this had no redeeming value. A lot of boring background work for 50 minutes of interest, but still a poor ending. Not one of my favorites.
Readers who became fans of Yann Martel through reading his earlier works, The Helsinki Raccamatios and The Life of Pi will be eager to take this journey, but should be warned. We've come to expect the twists and surprise syntheses of his stories. Much of Beatrice and Virgil does similarly entice us forward through a dreamscape seemingly pregnant with metaphor. And yet, this story satisfies on no score of its promise.
This is not an indictment of the violence and seeming nihilism; we need not demand happy endings. Life can suck. Very well. We are happy to engage any reaction to this, from stoic to the prophetic.
Rather, our dissatisfaction is that B&V never collects on its investment. It wanders hither and yon, leading to an abrupt ending, a suckerpunch lacking any revelation of import or meaning. Perhaps Martel meant to lead this work through such fragmentation and alienation as a matter of art, part of the Waiting for Godot riff on the apocalyptic. But on the whole the effect suffices neither art nor meaning. The vignettes are classic Martel, but they relate to no storytold whole. Instead of wabi sabi, the text is just shoddy. There is no pensivity, nor implication to connect, no zen transmission in this koan.
The cataclysmic in life, the daemonic dimension which stripes the land of the Shirt, indeed suffuses us with the bile of fey alienation. Martel is right to investigate this incommunicability of Hell's estate using kabuki gestures: the trembling moment of fierce and indifferent death, a list scratched in donkey fur. But we are disappointed that the vision of this text never dilates outward toward the greater view which Martel historically was so skilled at intimating. It left us to finish the work of the author in our imaginations, embarrassed by his gimmicky insult, rather than pondering and savouring implications.
Rather than whine through his protagonist that readers can't grok, Martel might profit/prophet better by condescending less.
This is an awful novel! If it wasn't for the brilliant narration of Mark Bramhall I would have stopped listening to the book after the first hour!!! I waited, and waited, for an exciting middle to ending but was highly disappointed in both!
I had to bail on this book. Couldn't stand the boredom........the writer goes on and on and on.