Thursday, December 30, 2010

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne


When a strange creature is spotted in numerous locations all over the globe, an American ship is set out to investigate and kill the creature that is starting to threaten ships in every ocean.  On board that ship is a French professor, Pierre Aronnax.  Through a series of events the professor discovers that not only is the creature a submarine, but ends up on that same submarine for a trip around the world.

As with, Journey to the Center of the Earth, this was a work by Jules Verne that I had always wanted to read, but never got around to it.  I'm glad I've read this one but I'm not really sure how often I'll be pulling it out.

For me, this book seems to be a strange combination of scientific journal, travelogue, and adventure story.    The story actually starts off in such a way that I was hooked from the beginning, the pace is fast and the writing style zips you along from page to page.  Where I ran into problems with this book is the science part of it, I really don't know how accurate all the scientific terms describing oceanic life are, but what I do know is that they take up multiples pages at a time and I tended to find myself skimming those sections.  The professor goes into great detail describing all the different species he sees out the gallery window as they are traveling through the waters.  When he isn't describing them, he's talking about them with his assistant who ended up on the submarine with him.  I know it's probably me, but I could have used more action and less description.

Where this books shined for me, were the action scenes.  Even the scenes where Captain Nemo leads the professor out of the Nautilus for jaunts on the sea floor are fascinating to read and I found myself wishing I was there to see everything for myself.  Thankfully there were enough of these segments to keep me reading the book and in a way they felt like rewards for plodding through all the other stuff.  Even the scenes that weren't very long captured my imagination.  Remember the giant octopus scene from the movie?  In the book it only takes up 2-3 pages but is so intense that it's what most people know about the book.

After I was done reading it, I was better able to understand why so many people love this story.  Now while I enjoyed it, I'm not one that loved it.  For me the descriptions were just too much for me and the characters were a little one dimensional and never really developed beyond where they are introduced to us.  Even with that though, I'm happy I read it and will probably do so again, but not anytime soon.

3 comments:

Lydia said...

The descriptions are overwhelming (I'm one that loves this book and the following two as well btw).

The best advice I have the next time you make your way through it is to google the images being described. It really adds an entirely new depth to the book and it always astonishes me that Verne could write with such scientific knowledge without having the resources available that we have today.

Staci said...

I've wanted to read at least one of his books but never sure if this will be one that I would actually finish!

Heather J. said...

I love the old movie version but have never read the book. I do love Verne though (in spite of his wordiness) and I'm hoping to read this one at some point.