Sunday, May 31, 2009

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne

The plot is split into two halves: first is the hunt for a mysterious and deadly sea creature, and then an adventure on Captain Nemo’s famous submarine, the Nautilus. The early part is exciting, even though because of the book’s fame the reader already knows the sea monster is really the Nautilus. Once the narrator is on board the sub, the excitement fades quickly. The ship travels around the world, visiting sunken ships, underwater forests, and battling giant squids; this half of the book felt more like a collection of short stories than a cohesive narrative. Some of these vignettes dragged on too long, and the catalogs of sea creatures were interminable. The conclusion was a deus ex machina that I found quite unsatisfying; disappointing for such a promising start.

One thing I found fascinating was that there was no villain in the book, no mission to accomplish, no quest to complete. Everyone has a sense of honor that governs their actions, and there are no one-dimensional characters. Nemo kidnaps the narrator and his party, but did so to save their lives. Ned wants to escape, but doesn’t hesitate to join the crew to fight off attackers and returning the weapon he used when successful. This depth makes the story more interesting, even in the slow parts.

First Sentence:
The year 1866 was signalized by a remarkable incident, a mysterious and inexplicable phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten.

1 comment:

Angela said...

Jules Verne is the true master, and commander of science fiction. You need to start collecting all the classic Jules Verne books like I do.

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