From the publisher:
“‘The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides.’ Scientist Pierre Aronnax and his colleagues set out on an expedition to find a strange sea monster and are captured by the infamous and charismatic Captain Nemo and taken abroad the Nautilus submarine as his prisoners. As they travel the world’s oceans, they become embroiled in adventures and events beyond their wildest dreams. Visionary in its outlook, Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a legendary science fiction masterpiece.”
It took me some time to get into this book at all & had to pressure myself to read it at times. The two major problems for me were the extensive digressions into marine biology (the references to the different organisms for the most part might as well have been in Swahili for all that I could picture what was being described and I had no desire to spend ten times as long reading to look them up), and the heartlessness of both narrator and protaganist when it came to dealing with the animals they encountered (often killing just because they could). Verne seems to share this heartlessness (even viciousness) when he describes the slaughter of the whales in Part II, chapter 12 for example. Also, I don’t particularly like most seafood, so all the meal descriptions just turned me off (lol).
Aside from that, the book was fairly interesting, probably more so for the original readers who had no experience (even vicarious, on-film ones) of diving or submarines. The wide use of electrical light and power must have seemed almost unbelievable at the time. This is why I like reading Victorian sci-fi so much; it’s fun to go back in time to see how much what they imagined has actually happened in real life.
I liked the supporting cast characters, Conseil and Ned (a Canadian of course), even with the latter’s obsession with hunting, much better than the two principals.
Leaving the story of Nemo a total mystery was rather sneaky on Verne’s part. I believe there is a prequel (or sequel?) that explains things, but since I didn’t particularly like Nemo, I’m not drawn to read it.