In 2010 Barack Obama wrote a letter directly to Martel, describing Life of Pi as "an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling."
Brian Bethune of Maclean's describes Life of Pi as "[a] head-scratching combination of dense religious allegory, zoological lore and enthralling adventure tale, written with warmth and grace". Master Plots suggested the "[c]entral themes of Life of Pi concern religion and human faith in God". Reutter said "So believable is Pi's story telling that readers will be amazed." Stephens added that it "achieves something more quietly spectacular." Smith contradicted them both by saying that there was "no bamboozlement [t]here."
Stephens summarized Life of Pi as a "story about a sixteen-year-old polytheist who survives 227 days on a lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger."