Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Moby-Dick – Book Review


Author – Herman Melville

A review of Moby-Dick

I’ve wanted to read this book for years but that was in the days I’d rather do anything else beside read a book.  I had the mentality of “Oh that seems like a good story to read about it would be fun” and of course I never did until now that is.  As I read this book I was told by a few people that noticed that they read the book back in school, most times pre-high school.  I was a bit surprised, I never even knew of anyone, personally, that read it until I was.  I’m glad I did read this book even though it was a struggle at time over the three weeks it took me.

Facts! – This book has many of those regarding whales.
I’m going after this aspect first because it read like a textbook a bit too much for my liking.  There are plenty of chapters that are worthy of being in an encyclopedia about whales but the ‘cetology’ section takes the cake.  Now the factual information given in this chapter is educational no doubt and I know more about whales after reading it than I ever did but did it have to drone on page after page.  My eyes fought to stay open as hard as the harpooners did against the whales on the open sea through those sections.  I would have rather had those parts of the book cut out and placed in an appendix in the rear compartment instead of being thrown promptly about wherever they landed throughout the book.  This story begged to have a flow to it but constantly got sidetracked by facts.

It’s about Moby-Dick right?
Now the story was solid and I enjoyed it most times but what I didn’t expect was Ahab and Moby-Dick being in so little of it.  After reading the book I’ve come to terms that it was written well and my initial doubts were rendered moot.  If you read this for the first time you might be someone like me and all you know about this book is Moby-Dick and Ahab.  I thought it was about a man who would stop at nothing to get his whale and it was but not as I first thought.  The first half of the book hardly has anything to do with either of them and gets so cluttered with facts you wonder if it’s worth grinding through to the end, I’ll set the record straight and urge you to finish if you’re already half way. 

The Story
The finale of the book is why it has gained so much popularity since the 1920s.  I know it was written in the 1850s but only 3,000 copies sold in roughly the first 70 years.  I’m guessing folk’s post 1920 had more patience to finish this book because before that nobody liked it much.  I’m not making this up it’s actually on the back dust jacket of the book!  The last 100 pages or so reads the best aside the first 100 pages or so.  I don’t know if its coincidence or not but those couple hundred pages are practically all story as opposed to the 500 or so pages in between that spilled whale facts all over the place clouding the story with precious ambergris.

Wrap Up
If you like whales I’ve no doubt you’d rather find this book amazing.  I, myself have always liked aquatic life and sea adventures so stomaching the bland portions was easier for me.  I won’t say it’s my cup of tea in general but there’s enough in this book that tickles my interest to help me through it.  If you’re someone who hates textbook reading then do yourself a favor and avoid this book, you’ll just kill yourself trying to get through it.  All books are meant to be read, but some by a select audience and I’d put this book in that category.  You’ve probably read reviews of how boring and stupid this book is or what a perfect masterpiece it is already if you’re reading my review anyway.  I’ll clear it all up for you by saying it’s neither, it’s a solid read, it takes time and patience and if you have those you’ll be fine if not read something else.