The young Jules Verne and his best friend Andre Nemo stow away on a ship bound for the high seas, but Jules’ father catches Jules and forces him to come home in total disgrace. Nemo goes on to have all the adventures, battling pirates, fighting sea monsters, being shipwrecked, ballooning across Africa, and so on. Jules is left to turn these real life tales of his friend into his popular novels.
Author: Kevin J. Anderson
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: 11/11/11
Genre: Adventure/Historical Fiction
My Chosen Format: Paperback
My Rating of ‘Captain Nemo’: 4 out of 5
As far as the cover goes, it didn’t really knock me for six, but I didn’t hate it either. It gets across Nemo’s love of tinkering/building. The blurb seemed kind of hashed together by someone who was bored and simply had to slap something down. Nothing too inspiring.
Like (I’m assuming) 99% of the people who have picked up this book, I am a huge fan of the works of Jules Verne (20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea and The Mysterious Island being my two favourites). My love for Verne’s works and, Captain Nemo most of all, was what caused me to do a double-take when strolling past this in the library. I grabbed it, borrowed it then and there, and scurried off home to crack it open, feeling like I had discovered a long-lost work by the author himself.
Kevin Anderson did not disappoint me in that daydream. His writing style throughout this piece makes me think back fondly to the Verne novels. Throughout the entire story he drops in characters from Verne’s works (not in the actual situations they appeared in the books for the most part, but you still get that little smile crossing your face when the name ‘Ned Land’ or ‘Passepartout’ crops up).
The story itself revolves around two best friends (Jules Verne and Andre Nemo) and their shared love of a fellow friend (Caroline Arronax). The novel depicts Jules as a bit of a coward who would rather travel in his mind and from the comfort of his desk than in real life and it paints Andre Nemo as a brazen adventurer that can turn his hand to solve most any problem.
Nemo’s skills at solving problems become invaluable as he finds himself in greater danger with every passing adventure (all of which his good friend Jules uses for his own gain in writing adventure novels).
We meet our main characters when they are just boys and stay right with them into their forties, so you truly get to ‘grow up’ alongside the boys, and girl in Caroline’s case. As enjoyable a read as it is as an adventure story (or series thereof) it’s equally enjoyable from a human element. You get to see a whole range of emotions as far as personality development is concerned. It isn’t a spoiler to say that you witness Nemo go from a fun-loving child into a dark, brooding individual (it’s literally describing him as such on the cover). Verne also goes through a wide range of changes as he grows from boy, to teen, to man.
In a sense, I felt as though I shared in the successes of both boys/men throughout their lives and that made me feel like I was getting more bang for my buck (which was only 25 pence due to a late return at the library).
As with all of my reviews, it isn’t all praise and high-fives. There were negatives, obviously or the score would have been a 5 out of 5. I felt the story tended to drag on in places and that certain aspects felt shoe-horned in or wildly unbelievable at other times. I know, it’s fiction, and therefor mostly lies. But I still expect my lies to be believable ones.
Another negative is that I felt, although the ending was good and what I expected/hoped for, it still left a few questions unanswered. Questions that, due to basic human emotions and desires, should have been hinted at if not answered.
All in all, I found Captain Nemo to be an enjoyable read, if a tad long, despite what the varying reviews say about the book. As with most things, one person’s cup of tea will be unpalatable for the next reader.