Most of the books I read are by comtemporary writers so after finishing ‘The Book Thief’ I decided to give one of the ‘classics’ a whirl.
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Seas tells the story of Dr. Aronnax, his Conseil and a harpoonist called Ned Land.
Being an expert on sea life Dr. Aronnax is called in to help the government after several ships suffer damage at the hands of some type of marine creature.
Following an encounter with the beast that sees them seperated from their ship, the three are eventually picked up by Captain Nemo and taken prisoner aboard his submarine.
That is where the real journey begins.
This book was published in 1870 and this is a translation from French, so obviously the style of writing seemed a little clunky at times.
My main problem with the book was that I don’t really have an interest in fish or marine life, I was reading it for the story.
And the problem was, at times, the book bombards you with details of the fish they found and saw on their journey. Even going into so much detail as to inform the reader about what family each of them belong to in the sea world.
Without wanting to sound patronising, I’m sure this was brilliant in the 1800′s but if I wanted that level of detail I’d pick up a text book about fish or watch Blue Planet and the like.
The story itself is fairly slow and takes a long time to build towards the last quarter, which suddenly sparks into life.
I found myself struggling to motivate myself to read the first 3/4′s of the book as it was so slow but then couldn’t put it down for the last 100 pages or so.
Perhaps this was intentional on Verne’s part – the first part of the book deals with the groups incarcaration and adjustment to the slow lifestyle.
Or maybe not, either way it made for a frustrating read.
The characters were brought to life though, with only the impatient Ned Land occasionally jarring with some of his dialogue.
Captain Nemo was as mysterious as expected but had a human side I never anticipated, which was a nice surprise.
I also felt the ending was a bit of a cop out to be honest. I won’t spoil it for you by going into detail but it certainly smacked of a small child telling a massively elaborate story and then concluding by saying ‘and then it was the end.’
I would’ve liked a little more closure from the conclusion but overall this wasn’t too bad a read, as long as you’re happy biding your time waiting for some action and are happy skim reading several pages of fish descriptions between story passages.
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