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.
I actually listened to this as an audio book on the way to and from school. It was a fun book to listen to, and I loved hearing about the adventures on board the Nautilus.
Parts of the story are engaging and interesting, such as the journey to Atlantis, the volcano, the vivid descriptions of marine life, the South Pole and the squid to name a few. Others, disinterested me and I kept finding my attention slipping while listening. I also found parts to be too technical such as measurements and calculations relating to the Nautilus. The plot is a bit weak at times, but consists of a trip around the world while calculating escape.
The best part of this book, in my opinion, was discovering what people in the 1800s thought was at the bottom of the ocean. If you think we know little about the ocean today, they knew even less back then. Verne depicts an underwater world filled with vicious predators, sea bears and underwater forests. They didn’t know what was at the South Pole either, and what they thought seems strange today, but was logical back then. I don’t wish to spoil it because finding out what they thought is part of the fun of the novel.
The origins of Captain Nemo and his crew remain a mystery. We do not know their nationality or anything about Nemo’s past. At the time, reader’s would have wondered if maybe the Nautilus did exist and if Captain Nemo was still out there, bent on revenge. Arronax could easily be a real scientist along with his faithful servant Conseil. Ned, the strong willed Canadian is also an extremely believable character.
It seems to me that Verne was a bit of an environmentalist with his strong messages against whaling, over fishing and killing for fun. The story contains a hidden message of working with nature, and taking only what you need.
20 000 Leagues Under the Sea is a great story and I can see why it has lasted as a classic. Recommended.