Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Book 5: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

TITLE: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
AUTHOR: Jules Verne
STARTED: February 20, 2017
FINISHED: April 29, 2017
PAGES: 499
GENRE: Fiction

FIRST SENTENCE: [From the preface] Many of Jules Verne's novels involve the sea: adventures on remote islands, voyages in quest of people and places, and the exploration of its depts in Vingt mille lieues sous les mers.

[From the novel] The year 1866 was marked by a strange incident, an unexplained and inexplicable phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten.

SUMMARY: [From BN] An American frigate, tracking down a ship-sinking monster, faces not a living creature but an incredible invention — a fantastic submarine commanded by the mysterious Captain Nemo. Suddenly a devastating explosion leaves just three survivors, who find themselves prisoners inside Nemo's death ship on an underwater odyssey around the world from the pearl-laden waters of Ceylon to the icy dangers of the South Pole . . .as Captain Nemo, one of the greatest villians ever created, takes his revenge on all society. More than a marvelously thrilling drama, this classic novel, written in 1870, foretells with uncanny accuracy the inventions and advanced technology of the twentieth century and has become a literary stepping-stone for generations of science fiction writers.

THOUGHTS: This book was enjoyable and easy to read, but it took me forever to finish. First, I did bother to read the introductory material about Verne, his life, and his writing. The essay was long and the footnotes were many - but I loved the context that gave the story. Second, this was an annotated version so there were footnotes in the actual narrative as well. I read them too.

But what about the story itself?

I was not reading this to see any illusions or to better understand Verne's version of sci-fi. I read this book for the story itself, and I thought it was really good. Verne's narrative is high-interest adventure mixed with science. It was thrilling to see all the places he took his characters. The author infuses large amounts of actual science which made the story all that more believable.

In addition to the story, Verne's writing style (possibly aided by a good translation) is incredibly detailed in vivid. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when the Nautilus in trapped in the arctic ice and the crew is suffocating. I actually found myself holding my breath and panting along with the characters.

The only reason I don't give this book a more glowing review is because all of the non-main characters are set-pieces and they read as such. There's no emotional connection or anything, so all the crew feel like theatre props.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

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