Review: Captain Nemo

Captain Nemo
Captain Nemo by Kevin J. Anderson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Captain Nemo is a swashbuckling tale about Jules Verne and his most delightful and adventurous character, André Nemo. The novel actually has a very interesting concept in that the two men are friends, one inspiring the other with his exploits. I could tell that it was decently researched, but the writing and overall presentation of the plot left me feeling very bored at times and mildly frustrated with repetitive character traits.

One of the key aspects of this story is that André Nemo, a character who thrives on thrill-seeking and wanting to experience adventures in his simple life, ends up having said multiple grand adventures due to life throwing him one curveball after another. His best friend and closest confidante, who also desires to have such experiences, ends up staying back and following the path that is laid out for him by his father. As much as Verne craves the same sort of excitement that Nemo does, he is always too frightened to take the steps necessary to make these things happen, which in turn leaves him feeling envious and a bit bitter.

This creates a really good contrast between the simplicity that is Verne’s existence and the complexity of Nemo’s. However, the character development that strings the reader along falls short, feeling mundane and horridly predictable. I also felt that the chemistry between the characters was at times uncomfortably forced. During the downtime between Nemo’s ventures, the storytelling reached an excruciatingly slow pace. It took everything I had not to skip pages to reach something that wouldn’t make me fall asleep.

Another element that I disliked about the novel was the ending. Because of the monotony in this book, I knew what the ending for Nemo would be eventually. What I didn’t expect was the abruptness of it all. One minute he’s having a moment of self-contemplation, trying to figure out the meaning of his actions unto this point and the next he’s reaching the chosen climax and ta-da “the end.” I felt that the point of the ending was maybe because the author got tired of writing the story and just wanted it all to end, almost as much as I did.

Stagnant storytelling aside, I really did enjoy the adventures. Those scenes were written with great detail and action that was actually very fun to read. The portraits in my head as I read those particular scenes felt like a movie-reel. It’s just sad that it came and went in bursts.

This may have not been the best book I have read in a long time, but it wasn’t a bad book either. Captain Nemo is not a book that I could see myself reading again, at least not for a very long time. If you are a fan of Jules Verne and his stories, then it may be worth checking this novel out as it was fascinating to read about his stories coming to light, but it’s not a must-read by any means; three and a half stars at best.

View all my reviews