Saturday, December 27, 2008

Life of Pi

Life of Pi by Yann Martel is the story of a young man from India, Pi who finds himself in a lifeboat in the Atlantic Ocean with only a tiger as a companion. When Pi's zookeeper father decides to move to Canada, the whole family finds themselves on a Japanese cargo ship with the animals they are selling to American zoos. When the cargo ship sinks, Pi finds himself alone on a lifeboat save a few animals who happened to swim aboard. Eventually, the only two remaining are Pi and a male tiger. Pi must learn not only how to survive while being lost at see, but how to master a tiger so as not to be eaten himself. Another interesting component to the story is that Pi considers himself a Christian, a Hindu, and a Muslim. He has many thoughts about God and religion that anchor his survival in difficult times. A few times the narrative can be monotonous as Pi explains what he exactly he has to do to survive. Read this book if you like stories steeped in thought, if you enjoy survival stories, or if you're interested in knowing if Pi survives and how. I give it a 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Son of a Witch

Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire is the second book in The Wicked Years. After the Wicked Witch of the West was killed by Dorothy's accident at her castle, Liir is left behind wondering if Elphaba was truly his mother of if he is destined to never know who his parents were.  Several years later he is found alone, practically dead by a traveling party and is returned to the Mauntery where he was born. Unconscious and unaware of his surroundings, Liir is put into the care of a young novice who barely speaks but beautifully plays a strange instrument. As she plays for him, he relives the memories of his life from the day of the witch's fateful death to his injury that led him to this point. As more of Liir's life is revealed, the politics and religious tensions of Oz are brought forward. This wonderful second book in the series brings up more questions for the reader. Is fate a real force? Does our upbringing or our parentage matter in who we will become? What is identity and what decides it? Is there really a purpose in trying? This book was a fantastic follow up to Wicked and made me want to pick up the third, A Lion Among Men. Read this book if you read Wicked, if you love retold stories, or if you love a book that makes you think and leaves you wanting more. I give it a 9 out of 10.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Wicked by Gregory Maguire is the story of The Wicked Witch of the West. The story begins on the day Elphaba is born to a Unionist minister and a once heiress to the seat of Eminent Thropp of Munchkinland. Elphaba was cursed from the beginning as she was born with green skin. The story follows Elphaba's life as her family grows, adding a sister and a brother, and then shrinks, losing a mother. Elphaba enters college an outcast, but soon develops a passion for the understanding and rights of Animals, animals that have the power of thought and speech. Once she begins to understand that the Wizard of Oz has some dark plans for Animals, and eventually all of Oz, she takes on a mission against the man and his absolute power. Looking into this life of a well-known literary character beyond the surface of what we've been told about her begins to bring about deep, perhaps unanswerable, questions. What is good? What is evil? Who should have power? Who is right? Who is wrong? Are there really only the good guys and the bad guys? This book has taken a beloved children's story and turned it's history into a thought-provoking adult literary jewel.  Read this book if you're interested in questions about good and evil, if you like retellings of classics, or if you enjoyed The Wizard of Oz and want to learn more. I give it a 9.5 out of 10.