Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Story of Captain Nemo, by Dave Eggers

The ever-versatile storyteller Dave Eggers has taken Jules Verne's classic Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and put a modern twist on it for young readers.  In The Story of Captain Nemo, young Consuelo gets to go on an adventure with his uncle, the famous oceanographer Pierre Arronax.  Together they will investigate the sinking of fishing boats around the world and the rumors of a giant sea monster that keeps bringing them down.

It's been decades since I read Verne's original story, so I can't authoritatively say how true to the story Eggers stays.  It's certainly updated to the context of today.  Eggers himself writes that this is not a "definitive distillation" of the original but a "personal and idiosyncratic take on it. . . . meant to intrigue a reader enough to bring them to Verne's inimitable text."  On that count, he succeeds.

It's a quick read, with some fun illustrations.  The sci-fi element is cool.  Just as in Verne's original, Eggers includes enough speculative science to be believable while emphasizing Nemo's mad genius.  The message of valuing human life above animal life while respecting the ocean environment fits somewhere between Greenpeace and a free market of the sea.  Killing humans on large-scale fishing vessels is not OK, even if they are depleting fish populations and destroying habitats.  But it's not OK to kill the offenders.

The Story of Captain Nemo is a satisfying and enjoyable reminder of the literary genius and scientific foresight of Jules Verne.  Pick it up!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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