Book Review – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

books, reviews

Rating: 3 out of 5.

How do you feel about audiobook dramatisations? I’ve listened to quite a few on Audible over the years and I think they’re quite fun. Although, you do lose something from the original source material. It’s basically the halfway point between a book and a film, right? You don’t get the full story but you still get to use your imagination a bit. On the plus side, it does mean you get distinct characterisation and it does help to sell the story. It also offers some production value that helps the with atmosphere and setting the scene. However, is it okay to listen to a dramatisation and not the unabridged version of the book? I don’t know and I’m not actually going to discuss that in this post. What I am doing is reviewing Audible’s original dramatisation of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea because I needed to find something quick to listen to.

Audible’s adaptation of the novel is only about 3.5 hours long, so it’s pretty clear that the story has been massively condensed. It also feels pretty rushed. I guess that’s always going to be a consequence of editing down the original novel to just a few hours. You don’t actually get much time to experience the adventures that the characters go on and you don’t really get to know the characters. The narrative just rushes by really quickly and it’s all a bit of a blur. For the audiobook, the story has also been changed from the original. I wouldn’t say that these changes are particularly bad but I don’t really see what they added.

However, I think this was a pretty decent dramatisation. The cast was all good and I always enjoy listening to Adrian Lester. He did a good job in the role of Captain Nemo but it was just so underwritten. It was more doing the best he could do rather than doing something great. Considering Nemo should be a memorable figure, I don’t think he really registered a great deal here. Still, he’s a great actor and has a very good voice. I could listen to him read the phone book and it would be engaging.

Though the story may have been a bit underwhelming, the actual production was pretty good. It felt a little episodic like the original book even if that would have spent more time on the individual episodes. It was a pretty easy book to listen to and it certainly kept me entertained at work. Something an unabridged version probably wouldn’t have. If I had one major criticism of the format it would be the huge gaps between each section and the music. It felt like someone was trying to create cliffhangers where there weren’t any. Still, that’s a bit of a trend with Audible these days. They love a bit of a musical break.

As a listening experience, the dramatisation was pretty good. It was like a classic radio play and it was a bit of fun. It did a fairly good job of cutting down the story into an accessible chunk. Did I love the changes? Not really but I also didn’t hate them. Could there have been a better way to adapt the book? Probably but it also wouldn’t have been a length that I could have finished in an afternoon at work. Maybe I’ll pick up the original book some time but, given it’s length, I find it unlikely. So, this will have to do.

3 thoughts on “Book Review – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

  1. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is on of my favorite books. I don’t know who the narrator is but I listen to an audio of this book which was pretty good. It capture the exactment of adventure.


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