Monthly Archives: March 2013

“Life of Pi” by Yann Martel

“Life of Pi” is so beautifully written, that I was halfway through the book before I realized that Martel’s masterpiece is in fact, fictitious. According to Los Angeles Times, this book is “a story to make you believe in the soul-sustaining power of fiction.” Wow. Thank you Los Angeles! Way to ruin it. Until that point, I had devoured every last detail, and accepted it without question. I was really quite disappointed in the world when I learned that Pi and his adventure are not real. I liked to think that there was someone out there who loved every religion, and made them all a big part of his life, while most pious people can only handle one religion. I thought Pi’s open heart and ready mind was inspiring, as well as what he survives later in the story. I desperately wanted it all to be real, and I was never going to doubt its credibility until my mother brought up the subject and felt inclined to dash my faith in humanity.

I think the part of the book that really made me believe it was the introduction, which is from the perspective of the author and tells the story of how he found Pi. I’m pretty sure it is cheating to lie during the introduction. Introductions are not supposed to be part of the story; they are supposed to be real, and boring and scholarly. If Martel wanted to start the story before chapter one, I’m pretty sure that is what people call a ‘Prologue’ not an ‘Introduction.’ So he was sneaky. I think Martel wants readers to believe in Pi’s adventure, and he accomplished exactly that.

After I was finished feeling betrayed I realized how genius Martel is. The story he told is entirely fictitious, but I hung onto every single word. I think it was all of those little details that most writers never even know about their characters that convinced me. Those little things like the three religions, a name like Piscine Molitor Patel, and the nickname that resulted. They are so outrageous, that I thought that they could be nothing but the truth. Even though it is a fictional work, it is funny how much it tells us about the crazy and real world around us. I beg to disagree with the Los Angeles Times, because this book does not make me “believe in the soul-sustaining power of fiction” but “the soul-sustaining power of” reality. I am sure that I was not the only one who believed that the story was true, and it shows us that even though this adventure did not happen to Pi, everyone can see it happening. We wouldn’t put it past fate, or destiny, or chance or whatever you’d like to blame it on, to set a little boy adrift with a tiger. (Oops… spoiler alert) I also learned that “Don’t judge a book by its cover” applies to more than just the cover art, but to the reviews and summaries on the back cover. In my mind, I would have never categorized this book as fiction, as the Los Angeles Times did, and I also would have NEVER given “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” a good review, like its back cover did. (you knew it had to be referenced at least once.)

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“An Abundance of Katherines” by John Green

In “An Abundance of Katherines,” Green writes yet another phenomenal fictional story with an enticing plot full of twists and engrossing characters that are easily relatable. Green has an extraordinary ability to create personalities that every teenager will find an attribute to relate to. He introduces the main character, Colin Singleton, very subtly though manages to make him a sophisticated character. I think Green successfully reveals the thoughts that run through Colin’s exceptionally complex mind through third-person view. Furthermore, the use of footnotes throughout the novel helps to reveal hilarious and random thoughts that enter Colin’s mind, making this novel all the more better to read.

A major theme in the first quarter of this novel was that as a part of one’s struggle to identify himself, one may experience various emotions in his teenage years. Colin wants to matter in the world, as first revealed in chapter 2, when he tells his friend Hassan, a “rather fat, hirsute guy of Lebanese descent” (8) about being dumped by Katherine XIX. As a result, Colin attempts to formulaically solve his relationship problems, believing that there is an equation to everything. Because of this, I begin to feel pity for Colin. He feels that the only way to prove why he has been dumped a number of times is through discovering a mathematical equation. He evidently lacks self-confidence, social skills, common sense, and the ability to connect on an emotional level.

To find this “equation,” Colin embarks on a road trip with Hassan. Although I greatly enjoy reading the humorous moments that occur on Colin and Hassan’s road trip, I sometimes think that the plot is a little unrealistic. It was interesting that Colin’s parents even let their child prodigy son who has just been dumped for the 19th time to leave for the entire summer with Hassan, who seems like a pretty unreliable person considering he would rather stay at his parents’ house to watch TV than to attend college. Not only is Colin heading on this road trip as an emotionally unstable teenager, but he and Hassan have no direction in this trip.

I think simply the fact that Colin is leaving everything behind for the summer just to try and forget about a previous relationship is very unusual; however, this is what piques my interest and makes me want to continue reading as Colin and Hassan embark on many more adventures.

~Yifan Mao

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The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I’ll start this post with a confession:  I saw the movie before reading the book.  Usually I don’t like doing this, and this is no exception, but it’s okay.  I can manage.  I wonder if the questions that the movie presented are answered in the book. So far, I’ve found the novel to be enticing and relatable.  On page 2, Chbosky writes, “I need to know that these people exist”.  I found this quote very provoking, because it alludes to Charlie’s lack of trust in people, likely due to a previous experience.  He is imploring the person he is writing to be trustworthy, to not let him down.  He needs the reassurance that there are “good” people in the world, even if he has had much interaction with “bad” people.

From the movie, I know that there is an issue with Aunt Helen, but the book delves in to the role she played in his life, and how she was ‘corpulent’.  I am wondering what it is that happened to her that Charlie was so curious about.

Another quote I found very interesting was that of Bill, ” ‘Charlie, we accept the love we think we deserve’ ” (24).  I agree with this statement; it goes along with being friends with people that have similar levels of self esteem.  We love people whom we think are like us, or are valuable to us.  I’m not sure why Charlie’s sister thinks she deserves to be hit, however.

This is sure to be a quick read, and I am going to exercise the most self-restraint as possible when trying to not read ahead.

~Casey

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