Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Book 9 of 2015: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

The fifth week of the Reading Challenge (a book with a number in the title) didn't take much work to pick. I have a couple of books on my shelf with numbers in the title but they're either midway through a series that I didn't want to read out of order, or the first in a series that I wasn't ready to start reading yet. Plus I'd committed myself to reading the 'classics' so I went searching on Amazon and Project Gutenberg for something that might be suitable.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne fitted the bill pretty nicely. And it was an old book that I'd never read before. Perfect.

This is the story of Pierre Aronnax who, along with his manservant, Conseil, and harpoonist, Ned Land, join an expedition to find and kill a mysterious creature which has been terrorising the waters around the world. When they finally track it down they learn that it's not a narwhal as they suspected, it's actually the Nautilus, captained by Nemo, whose intentions for his submersible are not all scientific.

I read Around the World in Eighty Days several months ago and really enjoyed it, finding the sense of humour in it had aged very well, so I really looked forward to starting 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It struggled to find it on Amazon as a free download, so purchased an edition with illustrations for the grand sum of 40p. It was only after I'd done this that I found it on Project Gutenberg and realised I could've gotten it for free instead.

As it happened, I read an awful lot of this book on my phone while I was out the house, thanks to Project Gutenberg. It meant that I got through the first half of it very quickly (just two days). Though after that I slowed down quite a bit during the second half and it took me the rest of the week to finish it off.

As with Around the World in Eighty Days, I found Verne's style quite funny. I guess you could almost describe it as being sort of deadpan and there were moments that I read and found funny though it was unexpected. I wasn't sure if I was finding humour in things that weren't, or if they were intended to be taken the way I was reading them. It made it an enjoyable read though.

The one thing that was a little bit lost on me was all the descriptions of fish and specific details of marine life. It wasn't quite to the degree of Moby Dick but I felt like it was approaching it at times.

One of my one complaints about this specific edition I read was that the illustrations were all clumped together at the end. If I'm buying a copy for the illustrations, I expect the illustrations to be in the actual text. I reached the end and then found pictures which referred to things I'd read about over two hundred pages before. It was weird and kind of pointless. At least buying this edition did teach me that you can download copies of books from Project Gutenberg and even get them in the right format for reading on your Kindle.

Having read this I'm now planning on reading Journey to the Centre of the Earth at some point. In fact, I've enjoyed the two Verne books I've read so far so much that I'd like to get them as actual book-books at some point.

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