20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
By Jules Verne
Halcyon Classic Series
A classic science fiction tale. How could I not love this? Maybe I should rephrase that. How could I love this? Because truthfully, I wanted to love it, but didn’t. I didn’t hate it. I never stopped reading but I more or less meandered through and even skimmed a few passages.
Ships are reporting strange sightings of a creature in oceans across the globe. Theories abound about what this strange creature could be and it’s Professor Aronnox, a French marine naturalist, who comes up with the best theory. He believes it’s a huge narwhale attacking ships. He takes to sea on the Abraham Lincoln with a crew of skillful men to destroy it. The crew finds the supposed whale and sets about trying to kill it. Unfortunately, the ship is attacked and the Professor and his manservant, Conseil, are thrown overboard with the ship’s harpooner, Ned Land. The three get picked up by the Natulis; the underwater ship that was the means of the crash and is the Professor’s supposed narwhale. Upon meeting Captain Nemo, they’re told they will not be allowed to leave, and with few options left to them, reluctantly, settle in for the ride. The Professor and Conseil take better to their confinement than Ned, finding the trip an amazing study in nature almost willingly enjoying the sightings and underwater expeditions. Ned, however, wants his freedom and will stop at nothing to once more set foot on dry land.
There were times I felt bombarded. There are lists and lists of fish with their classifications. There are lists of grasses with their classifications. There are long paragraphs about ocean depths and temperatures. There are long paragraphs about pressurization. There are long paragraphs where nothing much happens. It was these times when I felt myself drifting off. There are redeeming parts to this story — the underwater expeditions hunting sharks and exploration of an underwater volcano — where I found myself fascinated but those parts didn’t last long. Also, Captain Nemo, while a mysterious figure, is in parts slightly too mysterious for me. I know we only see him from one point of view and he’s supposed to be this mythical person but why, even if you’re a marine naturalist fascinated by the things you’re seeing, would you want to stay onboard the ship of a man obviously so depressed and manic?
Another problem I had was the extreme use of the exclamation point. They! Were! Everywhere! I was annoyed but then mostly it made me laugh. I stopped heeding them somewhere around chapter seven but toward the last few pages, they popped back up making me happy to see the end in sight.
I thought I read this book but what I remember about this story actually came from an old movie I watched years ago. My memories of the story were movie based and I had certain expectations that weren’t fulfilled. But that’s all right. While the story wasn’t what I was expecting, it was a decent read and I’m glad I stuck it out to the very end. Exclamation points be damned!
As a note, the cover isn’t the one from my book. I couldn’t find that cover and this one is much more interesting.