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The Adventures of a Special Correspondent Paperback – July 6, 2010
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Jules Verne is a great author. He can write very well, and his characters are fairly unique. His humour, however, is very droll, and this particular book tries to utilize this humour in a showcase manner. In my case, that is why this book is a failure, because the subtle humor does little to pass the time while waiting for the "adventure" to begin.
The book begins with our special correspondant beginning a trip on the transcaucasian/transasiatic railway traveling from Turkey to Pekin (Peking nowdays). Along the way, the correspondant takes notes as to the passengers and stops at each town visiting the historical sites and commenting on the peoples. His notations are very elaborate, and really, I felt like I was having a geography lesson for most of the book. The book has certainly educated me better as to the history of the Uzbeks and the Turjeks, and told me a little bit about the natural flora in the Gobi desert, and taught me a lot about the Caspian Sea. A few slightly cute things take place along the way to break up the monotony somewhat.
Then, for a change of pace, almost exactly 3/4 through the book, a more adventurous plot twist occurs, after having met all the characters on board, and the story continues. This doesn't sound like too bad a premise, and I guess it wasn't, really. The book is pleasantly written, and pacing seems okay. I just found most (not all thank goodness) of the characters which were somewhat unique to be rather boring, and the adventure was condensed and uninspired.
Jules doesn't forget to give a shout out for 'Around the World in 80 days' with a character trying to get around the world in 39 days (a more realistic accomplishment at the time of the writing). I really felt like this book felt like the screenplay for some early color movie because the humor and the plot seemed to fit really well with that time period. I don't mean this as a compliment.
I really think that this book ought to be required reading for the historical insight into the railway, but as to the story, I found it only mildly amusing. This is not the kind of book I find entertaining in terms of works of fiction, and for such a purpose, this book is entirely skippable.