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Book Review: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (5 star review)

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

written by Jules Verne

394 pages // published in 1869 // science fiction, nautical adventure


French naturalist Dr. Aronnax embarks on an expedition to hunt down a sea monster, only to discover instead the Nautilus, a remarkable submarine built by the enigmatic Captain Nemo. Together Nemo and Aronnax explore the underwater marvels, undergo a transcendent experience amongst the ruins of Atlantis, and plant a black flag at the South Pole. But Nemo's mission is one of revenge-and his methods coldly efficient.

My Review

5 Star Rating

There's so denying it, I enjoyed reading Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. In some ways, this fact surprises me, as it does have some dry moments... but really? It is an amazing, thrilling seafaring adventure that you just can't get anywhere else. It's worth a read (and I could see myself reading it again one day).

Just listen to what Captain Nemo has to say in invitation to see the underwater sights...

“Let me tell you, professor, you won't regret the time you spend aboard my vessel. You're going to voyage through a land of wonders. Stunned amazement will probably be your habitual state of mind. It will be a long while before you tire of the sights constantly before your eyes. I'm going to make another underwater tour of the world....”

Reader, ask yourself what wouldn't you pay to be a part of this grand voyage? Now let's put it this way... Would you give up all rights to ever leave the ship again? To be trapped, not unlike a prisoner, on a submarine that will show you epic sights never beholden by any other eyes? Well, Professor Aronnax isn't given the opportunity of choice, but fate lands him (and his two companions) on the Nautilus, with strict instruction that they will never become landlubbers again.

To make it all the more worth the sacrifice of dry land (and the society of people), we soon arrive in the Captain's library... and it's gorgeous! Just you wait, dear reader, it's one of those gobsmackingly amazing libraries that just may be worth dying for.

For a book originally published back in 1869 (nigh upon 150 years ago), Jules Verne sure had a handle on our modern amenities. Whether the elements he included in this novel where from scientific knowledge, or just imagination... he hit the nail on the head many times. Verne fully understood the capabilities of a ship that runs on electricity (and all the 'little things' that electricity improves in our lives).

Also included in the story are a small handful of far-fetched ideas of sea creatures and some terrifying monsters. The sci-fi elements continue; it's pretty thrilling. There are even a few really scary moments where I was desperately scared for certain individuals' lives. Then there are moments of Victorian wittiness to relish in, and other unexpected fun bits... like taking a nap during an underwater 'hike', or just deciding willy-nilly that you're going to visit the South Pole tomorrow.

“'But the sun--'
'The sun isn't enough, Conseil. Can it restore heat to a corpse?'
'Not that I've heard.'”

Note to the discerning/Christian reader: The belief of Creationism is ignored. The scientific methods that are employed in this book disregard Biblical time periods. Also, I didn't find much of any foul language in the book, just once – it mentions the names of mother-of-pearl colors, two of which use a word I certainly didn't expect to see.

There is at least one epic battle (maybe two), where much slaughter takes place. It's a bit gruesome. So if you have to skim, I won't blame you.

Now then, yes... there is a lot of (what some readers may call) 'boring' content, where the science mode is turned on so brightly that it could feel like you're reading a textbook. Honestly, this didn't bother me in the least; I ate it up. I'm pretty sure I picked a few new facts about undersea life too!

Overall? Wow. What an expedition that was for me to experience through the pages of a book. I'd happily go through it all again too.

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This is book #4 for me in the Back to the Classics 2018 challenge.
[CATEGORY: Classic in Translation]

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  1. I enjoyed this one much more than I thought I would, too. It's pretty suspenseful in parts, and I enjoyed trying to figure out whether Nemo was a good or bad guy until it was finally revealed.

    1. Barbara,
      I know! 20,000 Leagues was so much fun to read (for me). I can't wait to try another of Verne's books soon.

  2. haven't read it, but sounds fun