So while doing this LOST reading challenge I have learned something about myself. I enjoy books that tend to be heavy in nature. This is the opposite of how I am natured and I find that interesting. I have friends who read a lot but are careful not to read things that are depressing or too intense because they tend to take on the mood of whatever they are reading. I don’t think I do. And when I say I enjoy books that are ‘heavy in nature’ I don’t mean super sad. I mean like, characters finding themselves in circumstances so far out of their control, cataclysmic-natural disaster-meltdown situations, that they are forced to rise up, buck up or whatever up and SURVIVE! That just gets me all invested and interested and it sets my mind to wondering…”How would I have handled that? What would I have done? Is it possible to come away from that or recover from that?” You get my point. Well, that’s the kind of stuff I like to read and that’s what I got with The Survivors of the Chancellor by Jules Verne.
You may recognize Mr. Verne as the author of more well-known books like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Did you know that he is considered one of the founders of the Science Fiction genre?? I didn’t either until I read up on him a little after reading Survivors. I believe he wrote this one before he got into any “other-worldly” stories because this one is all based in normal, (fictional), reality.
The novel makes it’s appearance on LOST in Season 4. Regina, someone from the freighter that we don’t really know, is seen “reading” the book as she is guarding the door to the room where Sayid and Desmond are being held. It is brought to her attention that her book is upside down. She just looks all spaced out and afraid. A little while later, we see Regina wrapped in chains and she just walks off the side of the freighter into the ocean. Never to be seen again. Creepy.
The Survivors of the Chancellor begins with a group of people, (8 passengers and 20-some-odd crew members), who are on board the Chancellor, a cargo ship sailing from Charleston, South Carolina to Liverpool, England. (I think I am right about that, it has been a while since I read it). One of the passengers, Mr. Kazallon, is the narrator and we get his story through diary entries. I love this because that makes the chapters short. Short chapters are my favorite kind. In my opinion, a good writer can find a good place to break in the story without exhausting the eyes and brain of, me, the poor reader. Short chapters are my friends. And lets face it….I’ve got to get up and fix dinner, or go to sleep, or do something other than read this awesome novel, so short chapters make me happy and keep me coming back for more.
Back to the people on the boat, they face every hardship you can imagine on their voyage. Fires, an insane captain, (yikes), shipwreck, sharks and starvation all conspire to put an end to everyone on board. There are several that don’t make it. As I read, I found myself wondering about how I would respond if I were there with them. I would like to think that I would be in a constant state of prayer. Other than a couple of comments from a few passengers, I didn’t get the notion that anyone prayed. Even when their circumstances were in the deepest depth of despair, I don’t remember anyone praying. Doesn’t everyone, even unbelievers, pray when they are at that point, just to at least give it a shot? I mean, you are about to die…what can it hurt? Their circumstance was so desperate that it even had me questioning my physician friend about the nutritional value of cannibalism. I won’t go any further on that subject in the story except to say this….responses from the passengers ran up and down the spectrum and it was interesting to see who was willing to go there, who was not, and how bad things had to get to convince so many that there was no longer any choice.
Things end well, as they do in most good stories. I was amazed at all they had survived. I know, it was make believe, but I really felt I could have been there. And yes, I did ask myself THAT question and have thought about it several times since I finished the book. Could I ever be a cannibal?? Would I insist on it to spare the lives of my children?
The story has really stayed with me. I read it on my Kindle. (You can too if you have one, it is free). But now I have a copy on my bookshelf. It was that good.
I give this book 5 stars…..4 for it’s awesomeness and grippingness, plus 1 for having no sexuality or any extreme profanity.
Thank you, Mr. Verne. I loved it.
***All images from Google Images***