So, get this: a zebra, an orang-utan, and a tiger are in a lifeboat….

It’s a compelling set-up for “a story that can make you believe in god.” I wouldn’t go quite that far, but Yann Martel tries his darndest. There’s a fine line between confident and glib, between poetic and flowery, but he walks it well, telling his very improbably tale with panache and wit. Two-thirds through, when the coast of India had long vanished and the book had become a gritty survivor’s tale, I began to wish there were more characters, but that’s nitpicking. Ultimately, I like the voice better than the story — and maybe that’s enough.