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Classic fiction that takes us to a mesmerising world under the Earth's surface
on 31 October 2016
"As long as the heart beats, as long as your body and soul keep together, I cannot admit that any creature endowed with a will has need to despair of life"
I thought this book was brilliant and superbly well written by Venre as I will summarise below.
It follows 3 main characters:-
1) Professor Lidenbrock: a scientific genius who does not know when to quit even when the odds are less than 1% of success.
2) His Nephew, Axel: our narrator - written in a similar way to Conon-Doyle's Sherlock Holmes or Leroux's - Joseph Routabille stories. The insider following and reporting on the bizarre genius of the main character. He is also highly intelligent but worries a bit too much. He is the more human/ emotional character is this death defying adventure.
3) Hans: Our trusty hunter, servant, side-kick who is quiet, composed and saves every-ones life about 3 times.
I analysed this book as having 3 divisions in the way the story was created and therefore progressed.
To begin with - decoding a bizarre cipher, establishing the plot and the build up to the mission ending up in Iceland.
Secondly, a quite sombre, despondent and slow segment about our gang penetrating the Earth via volcano and happenings in the seedy under-passages in the worlds crust. One scene truly stood out for me here which raised the tempo. Axel finds himself lost from his crew with no rations, no light - really know hope. This scene was harrowing and claustrophobic as a reader we obviously put ourselves in that nightmare scenario. That was gripping.
Finally, about the last 40% is all full of over enthusiastic energy and vigour and it is great. Superbly paced narrative at this point including scenes of seeing fighting prehistoric monsters, being lost at sea in unbelievable and intense electric storms and if that all wasn't fun enough - to conclude they get rip-roaringly catapulted out of a volcano!! The book has some great set pieces.
For some people I can see it is not an easy read. It is very science-based and used so much specialist language that it could put people off. I have said previously that wish wasn't an issue to me as I believe the effort you put in to a book rewards the overall outcome. I am not a scientist but if I want to be in this world I have to adapt, enjoy and sometimes even learn the relevant terminology to get in to the characters minds.
The first 2 sections I mentioned were 4 star. The final section is 6 star - hence the review. It is reminiscent of Conon-Doyle's adventure tale The Lost World but instead of Professor Challenger and friends going up a formation/ mountain to find an amazing world, Professor Lidenbrock and chums do the opposite and go down.
I will hopefully read another of the Extraordinary Voyages books soon and hope they follow in the same vein.