Life of Pi (Movie Tie-In)

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"A story to make you believe in the soul-sustaining power of fiction."—Los Angeles ...

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Overview

MORE THAN SEVEN MILLION COPIES SOLD

New York Times Bestseller
Los Angeles Times Bestseller
Washington Post Bestseller
San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller
Chicago Tribune Bestseller

"A story to make you believe in the soul-sustaining power of fiction."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

After the sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a wounded zebra, an orangutan—and a 450-pound royal bengal tiger. The scene is set for one of the most extraordinary and beloved works of fiction in recent years.

Universally acclaimed upon publication, Life of Pi is a modern classic.

Winner of the 2002 Man Booker Prize

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Everything about Pi and this novel about him is unusual. To begin with, his real name is Piscine Molitor Patel and he was named after a swimming pool in France. Justifiably jettisoning that jeer-stirring moniker, the newly re-christened Pi embarks with his family on a cargo ship; only to find himself soon stranded adrift with an unlikely crew, consisting of an opinionated orangutan, a hyena, a royal Bengal tiger, and a wounded zebra. What transpires on this teenager's sea-bound rite of passage delights readers and will soon please moviegoers as well: Life of Pi comes to screens nationwide in a Lee Ang-directed Twentieth Century Fox film on November 21st. This movie tie-in paperback brings a Discover Great New Writers selection that has already sold more than seven million copies to new audiences.

From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR LIFE OF PI:
 
"Life of Pi could renew your faith in the ability of novelists to invest even the most outrageous scenario with plausible life."
The New York Times Book Review

"A story to make you believe in the soul-sustaining power of fiction."
Los Angeles Times Book Review

"A gripping adventure story . . . Laced with wit, spiced with terror, it's a book by an extraordinary talent."
San Jose Mercury News

"A terrific book . . . Fresh, original, smart, devious, and crammed with absorbing lore."
—Margaret Atwood

"An impassioned defense of zoos, a death-defying trans-Pacific sea adventure a la Kon-Tiki, and a hilarious shaggy-dog story . . . This audacious novel manages to be all of these."
The New Yorker

"Readers familiar with Margaret Atwood, Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje and Carol Shields should learn to make room on the map of contemporary Canadian fiction for the formidable Yann Martel."
Chicago Tribune

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594495130
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/2/2012
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Yann Martel

Yann Martel was born in Spain in 1963 of Canadian parents. Life of Pi won the 2002 Man Booker Prize and has been translated into more than forty languages. A #1 New York Times bestseller, it spent 104 weeks on the list and was adapted to the screen by Ang Lee. He is also the author of the novels Beatrice and Virgil and Self , the collection of stories The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios , and a collection of letters to the prime minister of Canada, 101 Letters to a Prime Minister . He lives in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Biography

Sometime in the early 1990s, Yann Martel stumbled across a critique in The New York Times Review of Books by John Updike that captured his curiosity. Although Updike's response to Moacyr Scliar's Max and the Cats was fairly icy and indifferent, the premise immediately intrigued Martel. According to Martel, Max and the Cats was, "as far as I can remember... about a zoo in Berlin run by a Jewish family. The year is 1933 and, not surprisingly, business is bad. The family decides to emigrate to Brazil. Alas, the ship sinks and one lone Jew ends up in a lifeboat with a black panther." Whether or not the story was as uninspiring as Updike had indicated in his review, Martel was both fascinated by this premise and frustrated that he had not come up with it himself.

Ironically, Martel's account of the plot of Max and the Cats wasn't completely accurate. In fact, in Scliar's novel, Max Schmidt did not belong to a family of zookeepers -- he was the son of furrier. Furthermore, he did not emigrate from Berlin to Brazil with his family as the result of a failing zoo, but was forced to flee Hamburg after his lover's husband sells him out to the Nazi secret police. So, this plot that so enthralled Martel -- which he did not pursue for several years because he assumed Moacyr Scliar had already tackled it -- was more his own than he had thought.

Meanwhile, Martel managed to write and publish two books: a collection of short stories titled The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios in 1993 and a novel about gender confusion called Self in 1996. Both books sold only moderately well, further frustrating the writer. In an effort to collect his thoughts and refresh his creativity, he took a trip to India, first spending time in bustling Bombay. However, the overcrowded city only furthered Martel's feelings of alienation and dissolution. He then decided to move on to Matheran, a section near Bombay but without that city's dense population. In this peaceful hill station overlooking the city, Martel began revisiting an idea he had not considered in some time, the premise he had unwittingly created when reading Updike's review in The New York Times Review of Books. He developed the idea even further away from Max and the Cats. While Scliar's novel was an extended holocaust allegory, Martel envisioned his story as a witty, whimsical, and mysterious meditation on zoology and theology. Unlike Max Schmidt, Pi Patel would, indeed, be the son of a zookeeper. Martel would, however, retain the shipwrecked-with-beasts theme from Max and the Cats. During an ocean exodus from India to Canada, the ship sinks and Pi finds himself stranded on a lifeboat with such unlikely shipmates as a zebra, a hyena, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

The resulting novel, Life of Pi, became the smash-hit for which Martel had been longing. Selling well over a million copies and receiving the accolades of Book Magazine, Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal, and, yes, The New York Times Review of Books, Life of Pi has been published in over 40 countries and territories, in over 30 languages. It is currently in production by Fox Studios with a script by master-of-whimsy Jean-Pierre Jeunet (City of Lost Children; Amélie) and directorial duties to be handled by Alfonso Cuarón (Y tu mamá también; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban).

Martel is now working on his third novel, a bizarrely allegorical adventure about a donkey and a monkey that travel through a fantastical world... on a shirt. Well, at least no one will ever accuse him of borrowing that premise from any other writer.

Good To Know

Life of Pi is not Yann Martel's first work to be adapted for the screen. His short story "Manners of Dying" was made into a motion picture by fellow Canadian resident Jeremy Peter Allen in 2004.

When he isn't penning modern masterpieces, Martel spends much of his time volunteering in a palliative care unit.

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    1. Hometown:
      Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 25, 1963
    2. Place of Birth:
      Salamanca, Spain
    1. Education:
      B.A. in philosophy, Trent University, Ontario, 1986

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

My suffering left me sad and gloomy.
Academic study and the steady, mindful practice of religion slowly brought me back to life. I have remained a faithful Hindu, Christian and Muslim. I decided to stay in Toronto. After one year of high school, I attended the University of Toronto and took a double-major Bachelor's degree. My majors were religious studies and zoology. My fourth-year thesis for religious studies concerned certain aspects of the cosmogony theory of Isaac Luria, the great sixteenth-century Kabbalist from Safed. My zoology thesis was a functional analysis of the thyroid gland of the three-toed sloth. I chose the sloth because its demeanour-calm, quiet and introspective-did something to soothe my shattered self.
There are two-toed sloths and there are three-toed sloths, the case being determined by the forepaws of the animals, since all sloths have three claws on their hind paws. I had the great luck one summer of studying the three-toed sloth in situ in the equatorial jungles of Brazil. It is a highly intriguing creature. Its only real habit is indolence. It sleeps or rests on average twenty hours a day. Our team tested the sleep habits of five wild three-toed sloths by placing on their heads, in the early evening after they had fallen asleep, bright red plastic dishes filled with water. We found them still in place late the next morning, the water of the dishes swarming with insects. The sloth is at its busiest at sunset, using the word busy here in a most relaxed sense. It moves along the bough of a tree in its characteristic upside-down position at the speed of roughly 400 metres an hour. On the ground, it crawls to its next tree at the rate of 250 metres an hour, when motivated, which is 440 times slower than a motivated cheetah. Unmotivated, it covers four to five metres in an hour.
The three-toed sloth is not well informed about the outside world. On a scale of 2 to 10, where 2 represents unusual dullness and 10 extreme acuity, Beebe (1926) gave the sloth's senses of taste, touch, sight and hearing a rating of 2, and its sense of smell a rating of 3. If you come upon a sleeping three-toed sloth in the wild, two or three nudges should suffice to awaken it; it will then look sleepily in every direction but yours. Why it should look about is uncertain since the sloth sees everything in a Magoo-like blur. As for hearing, the sloth is not so much deaf as uninterested in sound. Beebe reported that firing guns next to sleeping or feeding sloths elicited little reaction. And the sloth's slightly better sense of smell should not be overestimated. They are said to be able to sniff and avoid decayed branches, but Bullock (1968) reported that sloths fall to the ground clinging to decayed branches "often".
How does it survive, you might ask.
Precisely by being so slow. Sleepiness and slothfulness keep it out of harm's way, away from the notice of jaguars, ocelots, harpy eagles and anacondas. A sloth's hairs shelter an algae that is brown during the dry season and green during the wet season, so the animal blends in with the surrounding moss and foliage and looks like a nest of white ants or of squirrels, or like nothing at all but part of a tree.
The three-toed sloth lives a peaceful, vegetarian life in perfect harmony with its environment. "A good-natured smile is forever on its lips," reported Tirler (1966). I have seen that smile with my own eyes. I am not one given to projecting human traits and emotions onto animals, but many a time during that month in Brazil, looking up at sloths in repose, I felt I was in the presence of upside-down yogis deep in meditation or hermits deep in prayer, wise beings whose intense imaginative lives were beyond the reach of my scientific probing.
Sometimes I got my majors mixed up. A number of my fellow religious-studies students-muddled agnostics who didn't know which way was up, in the thrall of reason, that fool's gold for the bright-reminded me of the three-toed sloth; and the three-toed sloth, such a beautiful example of the miracle of life, reminded me of God.
I never had problems with my fellow scientists. Scientists are a friendly, atheistic, hard-working, beer-drinking lot whose minds are preoccupied with sex, chess and baseball when they are not preoccupied with science.
I was a very good student, if I may say so myself. I was tops at St. Michael's College four years in a row. I got every possible student award from the Department of Zoology. If I got none from the Department of Religious Studies, it is simply because there are no student awards in this department (the rewards of religious study are not in mortal hands, we all know that). I would have received the Governor General's Academic Medal, the University of Toronto's highest undergraduate award, of which no small number of illustrious Canadians have been recipients, were it not for a beef-eating pink boy with a neck like a tree trunk and a temperament of unbearable good cheer.
I still smart a little at the slight. When you've suffered a great deal in life, each additional pain is both unbearable and trifling. My life is like a memento mori painting from European art: there is always a grinning skull at my side to remind me of the folly of human ambition. I mock this skull. I look at it and I say, "You've got the wrong fellow. You may not believe in life, but I don't believe in death. Move on!" The skull snickers and moves ever closer, but that doesn't surprise me. The reason death sticks so closely to life isn't biological necessity-it's envy. Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can. But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud. The pink boy also got the nod from the Rhodes Scholarship committee. I love him and I hope his time at Oxford was a rich experience. If Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, one day favours me bountifully, Oxford is fifth on the list of cities I would like to visit before I pass on, after Mecca, Varanasi, Jerusalem and Paris.
I have nothing to say of my working life, only that a tie is a noose, and inverted though it is, it will hang a man nonetheless if he's not careful.
I love Canada. I miss the heat of India, the food, the house lizards on the walls, the musicals on the silver screen, the cows wandering the streets, the crows cawing, even the talk of cricket matches, but I love Canada. It is a great country much too cold for good sense, inhabited by compassionate, intelligent people with bad hairdos. Anyway, I have nothing to go home to in Pondicherry.

Richard Parker has stayed with me. I've never forgotten him. Dare I say I miss him? I do. I miss him. I still see him in my dreams. They are nightmares mostly, but nightmares tinged with love. Such is the strangeness of the human heart. I still cannot understand how he could abandon me so unceremoniously, without any sort of goodbye, without looking back even once. That pain is like an axe that chops at my heart.
The doctors and nurses at the hospital in Mexico were incredibly kind to me. And the patients, too. Victims of cancer or car accidents, once they heard my story, they hobbled and wheeled over to see me, they and their families, though none of them spoke English and I spoke no Spanish. They smiled at me, shook my hand, patted me on the head, left gifts of food and clothing on my bed. They moved me to uncontrollable fits of laughing and crying.
Within a couple of days I could stand, even make two, three steps, despite nausea, dizziness and general weakness. Blood tests revealed that I was anemic, and that my level of sodium was very high and my potassium low. My body retained fluids and my legs swelled up tremendously. I looked as if I had been grafted with a pair of elephant legs. My urine was a deep, dark yellow going on to brown. After a week or so, I could walk just about normally and I could wear shoes if I didn't lace them up. My skin healed, though I still have scars on my shoulders and back.
The first time I turned a tap on, its noisy, wasteful, superabundant gush was such a shock that I became incoherent and my legs collapsed beneath me and I fainted in the arms of a nurse.
The first time I went to an Indian restaurant in Canada I used my fingers. The waiter looked at me critically and said, "Fresh off the boat, are you?" I blanched. My fingers, which a second before had been taste buds savouring the food a little ahead of my mouth, became dirty under his gaze. They froze like criminals caught in the act. I didn't dare lick them. I wiped them guiltily on my napkin. He had no idea how deeply those words wounded me. They were like nails being driven into my flesh. I picked up the knife and fork. I had hardly ever used such instruments. My hands trembled. My sambar lost its taste.

Copyright © 2001 by Yann Martel

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10003.
 
www.hmhbooks.com

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 2514 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 2514 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 18, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    great

    Very well written. I enjoyed this story. would recommend.

    136 out of 178 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2012

    One of my favorites

    Originally had no interest in reading this but i could not put it down and it quickly became a favorite

    103 out of 122 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2012

    Nothing to say but fabulous. If you plan of going to college, th

    Nothing to say but fabulous. If you plan of going to college, this is a must. The plot is intricate and woven skillfully, and the final resolution is wonderfully Inception-esque and satisfying for the intelligent mind.

    Overall: Just go buy it already.

    85 out of 108 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Book to Make You Believe in God?

    Life of Pi is proclaimed to be a "book to make you believe in God". And for the discerning mind, it certainly can be. Yann Martel created something special in this book-- something greater than the simple plot (boy lost at sea with tiger on lifeboat), and more far-reaching than its main characters (the boy. the tiger.). Through the well-formed frame narrative, Martel forces us to decide, along with the characters, if fiction is worth believing.

    Beyond that, his writing is witty and poetic. I found myself laughing all through the book!

    59 out of 76 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2012

    There needs to be a max word count on reviews

    After looking over these reviews I have decided not to read this book. If you like a book, say so. You do not need to go on and on in detail about everything that happens in the story. B&N should prevent this kind of posting, or at least delete them.

    56 out of 165 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 9, 2010

    One of the most wonderful books ever.

    This remains one of my favorite books. It's one of the most moving books I have ever read and completely original. The author is amazing, combining certain aspects of himself with the character and keeping the book moving at a lighthearted but serious pace. It's dramatic and moving and it teaches you a lot about faith (you'll probably find yourself quoting this book several times a day). It is so touching- his style is earnest, wholesome and truly gets you to think about things.

    You'll love the character, you'll love the plot, and you'll love the powerfully simple insights made. It's beautiful and you will fall in love with the main character and be depressed when the book is over. Fear not, though, it's always there to return to on rainy days. :)

    53 out of 58 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    Clever, original, and a definite re-read

    I picked up Life of Pi after a good friend recommended I read the book. This book is one of the few books that I nearly read through in one sitting, and then later re-read at a slower, more leisurely pace.

    Yann Martel immerses his readers in an exotic, yet familiar setting of a zoo in India, and then takes you on a wild journey across the world.

    The key question that my friend asked to me to consider after I finished reading, and which I have posed to other friends that I encouraged to read this book, is which story do you believe - fantasy or 'reality'?

    37 out of 43 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    My Sweet Lord!

    One of the best books I've read in a long time! I highly recommend it. Martel's writing style is wonderful, and I firmly agree with the quote on the front of the book: "Life of Pi is a real adventure...It's difficult to stop reading when the pages run out.." I didn't want this book to end. I wanted to know more about Pi. LOVE THIS BOOK!

    32 out of 38 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2012

    Life of Pi

    I am in 8th grade and I absolutely loved this book. I thought Pi was a great role model, such a strong character. Anyone 13 and up must read this book, it gives you a new appreciation for life (and possibly a fear of boats!).

    25 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Very interesting read.

    I picked up this book on a whim before a vacation. Never hearing of Yann Martel I didn't have huge expectations for Life of Pi. I was dumb to think that way. Right from the begining Life of Pi blew me away. It is so original. The main thing I liked about it was how much you feel for the characters. You are gripped into the plot. Yann Martel is a great auther. All of his books make you think. Life of Pi examines life in a very unique way. I would reccomend this to readers the ages of 16+ because a couple scenes are pretty graphic and the way it makes you think can be pretty heavy.

    20 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2012

    Boring so far...

    Too bad you have to rate at least one star. This book was chosen to be read ovwer the summer as an IB student and i am at like chapter seven and i dont understand a word of it this story jumps from situation to situation, such as one minute he is talking about the zoo and the next minute he is talking about how he is teased at school, its just very confusing to me. But one thing is that one would need an extensive vocabulary to flow through this book with no problems.

    18 out of 77 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2012

    will have you thinking long after reading

    This book has changed me. This is a powerful story.

    17 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 6, 2008

    Life Of Pi

    Life of Pi is the story of a boy and his amazing adventure in the religious world, the animal kingdom, and the human civilization. It is a very interesting story of survival in the most impossible conditions. He is from India but the story does not begin there, it begins with an authors note explaining how he, the author, came across this man who told him that he would tell him a story that ¿would make you believe in god¿. Piscine was from Pondicherry, India, but this book is written in an interview way so he first recalls what he studied and how he felt when he first moved to Canada. Afterward Pi talks about his family, how he got his name, and his love for animals. Pi later tells his journey of his religious search in Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam and how he practiced all three. His father decides to move to Canada with the animals and their family because of the political actions being taken in India. When the ship they were traveling in sinks, Pi is left in a lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and a Bengal tiger. After time passes, only Pi and the tiger are left and they must endure many difficulties in order to survive.<BR/>One important event that happens in the story is when Pi talks with his biology teacher, Mr. Kumar. This is important because it is the first time Pi questions his religious beliefs, Mr. Kumar was an atheist. This makes him think about the different religions which lead him into learning two more besides Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. Another event that is important to the story is when he is thrown overboard by the Chinese when the boat was sinking. This part is important because, if it had not been for that act, Pi probably wouldn¿t have been able to survive the disaster. <BR/>This book is really detailed and graphic. It has many interesting facts and I liked the way the author wrote them in a humorous way. One example of that is when he is talking about how animals are territorial and how some people think that they are freeing them, when they really weren¿t. He gives the situation of someone going into your house and kicking you out the front door saying ¿Go! You are free! Free as a bird! Go! Go!¿ and how the people would respond to that. Life of Pi is an interesting book that anyone who wants to ¿believe in god¿ should read.

    15 out of 46 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2012

    Highly Recommend!

    One of those books you'll be thinking about for days/weeks/months after. I still can't decide what my thoughts are about the ending - I keep changing my mind when I think back on the story. Can't wait to see the movie

    14 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 18, 2012

    This book was a complete waste in my opinion. The plot was WAAAA

    This book was a complete waste in my opinion. The plot was WAAAAY too confusing and sort of contradicted itself. Correction: there really wasn't a plot. It was just some kid rambling about a bunch of animals (which may or may not have actually been there) on a boat with him tearing each other apart. And then there were a bunch of things that are physical impossibilities that &quot;supposedly happened&quot;

    14 out of 56 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2012

    TOUCHING & DISTURBING. Nature in a nutshell, including huma

    TOUCHING &amp; DISTURBING. Nature in a nutshell, including human
    nature. Beautifully written. I can't say that I have ever been more
    involved with a character and an animal with equal care and empathy. I
    hope the movie does the book justice, if it does, it will be an instant classic.

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 5, 2008

    Fun read

    People either seem to love this book or not care at all. I liked it a great deal and found it to be entertaining and thought provoking. I think that the degree to which you believe Pi's second story of his events is the degree to which you are a pessimist.

    13 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 6, 2012

    I Was Riveted From the Beginning

    I listened to this book on CD while driving alone from Phoenix to San Diego to spend a weekend by the sea with friends. But the whole time all I was there, all I was thinking about is how I couldn't wait for the drive home so I could get back to this book! It's a great story and it's told very beautifully.

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2012

    Did not really get it...

    I know the reviews were mixed on this book, and I really wanted to be one of the people who loved this book, but I just wasn't. I did not get the ending at all. I found many areas of the book dragging. Didn't like it at all

    10 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2012

    THIS BOOK SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!#!###

    HATE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    9 out of 64 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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