A book has started off on the wrong foot for me when 20 pages in, it tells me that it is "indeed, a story to make you believe in God".
The next 50 pages were no less irritating, as the narrator attempts to laud the idea of zoos, arguing that animals have more freedom being confined to a zoo, and saying that if animals "could choose with intelligence, it would opt for living in a zoo". This is a baseless argument, as animals can't
choose with intelligence, as they are wild animals evolved to live...in the wild. He then offers the equally flimsy argument, posed as a question: "Would you rather be put up at the Ritz with free room service and unlimited access to a doctor or be homeless without a soul to care for you?" Well, when you frame it like that, sure, I choose the Ritz. But how about if the question is posed like this... "Would you rather be put up at the Ritz with free room service and unlimited access to a doctor, and never, ever
be allowed to step foot out of the Ritz until the day you die, or would you rather take your chances living a life on your own outside of the Ritz, and go where you please?" Now, the answer is probably different. Fifty pages of shoddy philosophy, riddled with logical fallacies, and all for the purpose of making an analogy between religion and zoos. Now, I agree that the two are similar, but for the completely opposite reasons the narrator does.
At this point, I was ready with a 1-star review.
Then came the main bulk of the story. It was entertaining, although at points it tended to lag. A story of survival on the open seas, with the main character using instinct, reason, and ingenuity to stay alive on lifeboat with a tiger. A little far-fetched, but a touch of magical realism never hurt anybody, so hey, why not.
At this point, I agreed that the 1-star might have been jumping the gun a little, and I was ready to bump it up to a 2-star review.
Then came the end of the book. I can't say much without giving anything away, so I'll just say that the end was solid, and pulled the book up easily to 3 stars, if not 3.5.
So, did the book make me believe in God? Not in the slightest. In fact, as my brother said it would, it actually reaffirmed my worldview with respect to religion. I'm not sure that's the interpretation the author was hoping for out of the reader, but that's what I got out of it. That, and a fun story.