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Publisher's Summary

Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 2002

Pi Patel has been raised in a zoo in India. When his father decides to move the family to Canada and sell the animals to American zoos, everyone boards a Japanese cargo ship. The ship sinks, and 16-year-old Pi finds himself alone on a lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra with a broken leg, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger.

Soon it's just Pi, the tiger, and the vast Pacific Ocean - for 227 days. Pi's fear, knowledge, and cunning keep him alive until they reach the coast of Mexico, where the tiger disappears into the jungle. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story, so he tells a second one - more conventional, less fantastic. But is it more true?

A realistic, rousing adventure and meta-tale of survival, Life of Pi explores the redemptive power of storytelling and the transformative nature of fiction. It's a story, as one character claims, to "make you believe in God".

©2001 Yann Martell (P)2002 HighBridge Company

Critic Reviews

"A story to make you believe in the soul-sustaining power of fiction and its human creators." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)
"If this century produces a classic work of survival literature, Martel is surely a contender." (The Nation)
"You've read it, right? No? Oh, God, hurry up. Life of Pi is wonderful." (Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

Best audio of the year for me

Audio books are a different experience from reading. I find that I tend to forget what I listened to, perhaps because I am usually working out, pulling weeds or doing some other painfully mundane task while I listen to my book. The Life of Pi was an exception.The images so vivid, the story so entertaining ,the character, Pi, is enchanting. I had to go on the web to read about the author. I expect this will be my favorite read for the year. Try it. You will enjoy the ride.

91 of 92 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Perfect, period.

If you are like me, I am very hesitant to use my credits--they are like gold. I want a good return for my purchase. So, if you are at the stage where you want to read other listeners' reviews to confirm your desire to purchase this book--STOP and just hit "ADD TO CART" now. You will NOT be disappointed. This story is so well written, so rich, that I started to believe it was a true story! Honestly, I checked! This book has it all--humor, despair, hope, and an unbelievable uniqueness. You have not heard this story before, it is not a carbon copy book. It is truly something special! Plus, the narration of this book is perfect. I have listened to Jeff Woodman before and was SHOCKED to realize (later) he was the narrator. I pictured a young Indian man, not a skinny white guy. 10-stars to you, Jeff! He made the book even more magical.

95 of 98 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jeff
  • Austin, TX, USA
  • 11-09-03

Despite myself, I loved this book

A few minutes into this book I began to worry that I had wasted my purchase on an uninteresting, navel-gazing, mystical study of relativistic, religious pap. The writing seemed clear enough the narrator's voice was just fine, but I had to force myself to remain interested. The story-within-a-story structure seemed to indicate that a deeper level was still to come, so I suspended my skepticism in order to really buy into the main character and his flashbacks and childhood memories. Soon I was almost fascinated by this young man and where he was headed, and I found myself in a kind of disappointed state of shock when the story abruptly changed, slathering me in the kind of plot-driven action that I had been craving in the earlier chapters. But I soon became so absorbed in this new plot that the other became a faraway memory-- the earlier flashbacks now became my own as I tossed in the book's new drama. From this point on I was riveted. I squirmed with a real desire to join Pi in his dilemma, and I reacted to his every decision and thought as if my own. At the end of the book, after an odd and unsettling ending, I had to admit that I had been hooked, had struggled, and had been reeled with resistance into a layered, colorful, and fascinating world that I could never have entered on my own. Only the best of authors can pull this kind of thing off, and I glowed for days afterward. As a matter of fact, I've been inspired to write my first and only review of anything-- this one-- so read this book and stick with it; it's worth it.

219 of 229 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Amazing to listen to

This is a wonderful book to hear read. I have never been moved to write any type of review but this proves there is always a first! The book carries the listener away on a journey that touchs one deeply on many levels. This is not religious proselytizing but a lesson learned by a young boy in the power of believing. I really look forward to listening to this book over and over. Do yourself a favor, sit back and take the journey!

56 of 58 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story


What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said. I'm sorry I waited so long to listen to it. Bought it years ago and couldn't bring myself to pick it up. Purchased this in a $5 sale and held onto it for months. Delighted I finally gave this book the time. Incredible tale of a boy who sets upon a multi-categorical religious quest. One of my top 10 favorites of all time.

31 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Amie
  • Halethorpe, MD, USA
  • 05-13-05

Love is Unbelievable - ask any lover

What a beautiful book. I am left at the end not feeling sure of what really happened, but with a strong idea of what I wish had been the truth. Pi and Richard Parker are painted so clearly I grew equally attached to both characters, and the relationship between them is heartwarming and shocking.

The narration is excellent as well, and drew me in so completley that immediately upon completion I wish to start the book over from the beginning.

This is the most fascinatingly brilliant book I've read in years.

43 of 45 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Greg
  • San Clemente, CA, USA
  • 04-08-04

Greg, surfer from socal

I have listened to about 30 audiobooks in the past two years and this one is arguably the best. Compelling story, beautifully written and by far the best adaptation to an audiobook because the reader catches so much of the essence of the narrator. I believe that the reader made this book better than the written word can possibly cover because he puts such a perfect emphasis on the narrator's emotions. It is a far fetched tale, but stay with it, it is well worth the trip.

39 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A Great Great Book

I waited more than a month to write this review to see if I would still feel the same...I do. This book is destined to be a classic, and the audio version is possibly better than the printed one. The reader does a perfect job of bringing Pi to life. This book will make you ponder life, religion, and truth. When you are finished with this fictional novel, you'll undoubtedly have a fresh perspective on reality. I recommend it whole-heartedly.'ll not regret it.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • J. Hall
  • Merrimack, NH USA
  • 08-22-03

A great example of what an audiobook can be!

Unlike some audiobooks that you feel are being read to you, the reader of this, Jeff Woodman, really has you believing he is the person telling the story, and he's telling it straight to you! No work of fiction is going to capture everyone's fancy, but for me this was a remarkable work that I've recommended to many friends already, and will share with my boys soon.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Possibly my #1 recommended audiobook

I have been listening to audiobooks for over an hour/day for over 4 years and Life of Pi is one of the most magical blends of "narration" (what should be called reading), writing, and spiritual adventuring I've ever experienced. The Alexander McCall Smith books, the James Herriot books and the Harry Potter series (which I hope that Audible will be able to afford some day) are similarly blessed with perfect reading, but the strength of this novel is in its writing and story. I think that it works better in the story-telling realm, and is one of the few books that I've found a better listen than a read.

WARNING: I am a Comparative Literature scholar, so I was excited and delighted by literary devices that may put off other readers. However, I truly believe that anyone who can just relax and listen to the story develop (for example, the reviewer listening while driving as opposed to the listener who needed more out of the story sooner than it was given) will feel that they have experienced something even greater than a good read.

56 of 61 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Sandra
  • 12-17-06

Nice as Pi

First off all thank you Jeff Woodman for the great narration of this audio book. I often listen to the books I download on my dull motorway journey to and from work.Sometimes I listen while taking a bath, others on lazy Sunday mornings in bed. It didn't matter where I listened to this book because I was always where the author wanted me to be,which in this books case from about half way through is floating in a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal Tiger for company.This book describes the feelings both mentally and physically of being a starving survivor so well that I could feel my own stomach rumble and feel the heat of the sun on my own parched lips.I'm not so sure about the first fifty or so chapters that tell about Pi's school life,life as a Zoo Keepers son in India and of his devotion to religions and God, but I really enjoyed this listen and the twist at the end that certainly gets you thinking what was true and what was the mental defence a starving brain puts in place to save ones sanity.

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Matt Gibson
  • 10-21-07

The secrets of survival, tigers and bananas...

I'll keep this brief: This is a good book, wonderfully read. The narration has exactly the right level of dry humour, and truly makes you believe in the stalwart, surprising character of Pi Patel.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kirstine
  • 01-06-13

Unlike anything else!

This book is impossible to categorize! Fantasy, adventure, blood-curdling violence, indomitable human-spirit, truth v. fiction, religion, humour, natural history, animal behaviour: it has it all! I think listening to the book is better than reading it as there is an awful lot of details about sorts of things that are a bit boring, especially the first part of the book, but if you're doing something else it just flows in one ear and out the other. In the end I enjoyed it and I thought the reader was good. I went to see the film after I'd listened to the book. The film is a visual feast and a much sanitized and softened version of the savagery of the book.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Marcus
  • 05-07-12

Good listen

I liked this audiobook a lot. It does take some time to get used to the narration which sounds a little computer generated in the beginning, however that enhances the story when you come to understand the logic of it. The story is highly original and although it is not always clear where its going the ending makes it all worthwhile. It is one of those stories that is more impressive after you sit down to think about it than when you are immersed in it. It also has to be one of the only books I have read whereby after having finished it going back to chapter one feels like a continuation rather than the beginning again.
There are many who have said that this book strengthens their faith in God, but for me it confirmed my cynicism of all religion. People will take from it what they will which is the the strength of the completed book. Books that make you think about life and the world get high marks from me and this is such a book.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Tom
  • 06-09-11

A must read for so many reasons

Life of Pi is as enjoyable as it is thought provoking. It's an absorbing, engaging story I'd recommend to anyone. I had to listen to it at every opportunity. I even volunteered to wash up and clean the whole kitchen just so I could have it on in the background!

Jeff Woodman was the perfect narrator, I was amazed that he was able to produce an accent that merged Canadian with Indian; I felt I was listening to Pi Patel telling me his story.

It's wonderful, download it!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Nick
  • 03-25-09

Enigmatic and fascinating

The reader's voice took a little getting accustomed to but the story is well worth the praise and attention it has received. The narrative which brushes always against the surreal and plays it against the commonplace brutality of real life reminds the reader of the great Mervyn Peake. It touches a very real nerve in the human psyche and is highly recommended.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Mikey
  • 12-13-13

An exciting story, but with a touch of repetition!

Would you try another book written by Yann Martel or narrated by Jeff Woodman?

I enjoyed the accent played by Jeff Woodman and think Yann Martel did very well to come up with a storyline for someone stranded on a lifeboat for months on end. It seems a daunting task to come up with a plot that won't lead the listener to become bored after a few hours of listening, but I think the author succeeded in keeping the listener's attention and interest throughout.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Not particularly exciting or surprising, as expected really.

Was Life of Pi worth the listening time?

Yes. It has urged me to seek out the film on DVD.

Any additional comments?

Life of Pi is a good listen. I would recommend this book to friends, it firmly places you into the shoes of someone experiencing hunger, thirst, loneliness and the desperate will to survive against all odds. This book has it's gory moments (not distasteful, the right amount too, not over the top) but vital to the theme and well executed by Martel. <br/><br/>At times I found myself a bit bored as the story is set primarily on a lifeboat in the middle of the vast ocean. However, I found that I was not bored for too long as the author came up with some good twists and even gave plenty of interesting facts animals.<br/><br/>An entertaining book not for the feint hearted!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Laurel
  • 04-20-09

Affirms the power of storytelling

Unlike some listeners who found the first third of the book a little slow I enjoyed it from the beginning ? with its witty observations and asides on people, animals and religion. The tale of survival had me enthralled ? it is insightful, lyrical and descriptive though perhaps it drags a little toward the end and becomes rather too fanciful. The ending cleverly draws all the elements together and makes you think about the role and importance of storytelling long after the book is finished. The excellent choice of narrator enhances the enjoyment of the novel.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Peter
  • 06-23-10

Strange and interesting

I enjoyed this book, but not quite as much as I had hoped. Because of its reputation and award, I thought it would have more depth, and maybe I missed any metaphors or spiritual message, but to me it was quite a straightforward though beautifully told story.

The character of Pi was engaging and the strangeness of his story makes it compulsive listening, just because it is so different to anything else I have read. The depiction of Richard Parker, the oddly-named 450-pound Bengal Tiger that Pi finds himself sharing a lifeboat with is superb, as are the exploits on the boat.

A memorable listen, well read and recommended.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Emma J
  • 04-13-13

Adventures at High Sea...

I found this to be very enjoyable listen an the speaker sounds just like the older actor in the film, the narrator speaks so well that if you close your eyes you could be sat right next to Pi an Richard Parker the tiger ,wishing him more adventures. I believe I've heard Life of Pi three or four times and will continue to listen to it. I would recommend it to anyone who likes adventure stories...

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sam French
  • 04-08-15

Simple but exciting

I read this book after watching the movie. While the movie captures many of the essential moments quite wonderfully, and adds some unnecessary Hollywood romance, the book expresses much more vividly the internal journey of Pi through this adventure of a lifetime.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Toni
  • 01-08-17


What did you like best about Life of Pi? What did you like least?

I really wanted to get into this book and have been meaning to read it for a long time, but I could not. I didn't even finish it. Maybe I need a hard copy to try again???