by Jules Verne
Reviewed by Victor Todorov (15 years old. Bulgaria)
What happens when a rich man who believes in the extraordinary, a valet who is looking for a peaceful life and a bunch of gamblers get together in one place? Guess…a bet of course! What could be more interesting than a bet in which travelling, money, chases and the most exciting thing, an adventure, are involved? During the following few minutes you will read about the book Around the World in 80 Days where Phileas Fogg and his valet Passpepartout go around the world in 80 days. At first sight everything looks normal, but when you read on the cover that Jules Verne is the author, you forget about a peaceful journey. When Jules Verne is involved, you have to prepare yourself for a big dose of adventure, excitement and a lot of funny moments.
In the beginning, Jules Verne takes us to Savile Row, London in the distant year of 1872. The main character is Phileas Fogg; he is a modest man. There is nothing interesting in his personal life. No one knows whether he has been married or not, but no one can deny the fact that he is filthy rich. In the very beggining, Phileas hires a new valet, Jean Passpepartout, a man who has been on a lot of journeys, who has had enough adventures in his life and who is looking for a break at last. How in the world could this poor soul know that a peaceful, modest and calm man like Phileas could be such an adventurer? The ‘real’ start of the book comes immediately after their meeting – the bet. It is pretty clear that when a group of gamblers gets together and start arguing about something it is inevitable not to start a bet. That is how our main character gets involved in a journey where four thousand British pounds is on the line. From now until the last page of the book the reader will not be able to stop reading; the thought ‘I cannot wait to see what happens next’ will occupy his mind.
As in most adventure books, the main characters have a purpose and someone is trying to stop them. We get introduced to Inspector Fix, who wants to arrest Phileas for robbing a bank. Boom! Came out of nowhere, eh? If you still are not impressed, listen to this: the inspector is going to follow Phileas and Passpepartout everywhere they go! It is interesting how the inspector, who wanted to arrest Phileas, suddenly becomes his friend and how they get through tough moments of the journey. (I cannot say much about their friendship, because it is complicated.) The inspector does not have any problems with Phileas, but the others are convinced that he should be arrested. So, the inspector is both a friend and a foe to Phileas. You can learn the details about them and how they became buddies in the book; I will not try to retell the whole story.
The whole book is filled with funny moments: for example, when Passpepartout has to be an acrobat on stage, or when he has to find a way across the ocean (because the ship, where his master is, has already left), or how Phileas and Passpepartout have to go through India on a very expensive elephant transport and many, many others.
During the journey, among all this chaos, Jules Verne remembered to find a place for a love story. What a romantic way to meet your loved one – saving her from being sacrificed to the gods according to the customs of her Indian tribe. Well, it is Passpepartout that actually saves her life, but it is Phileas she falls in love with – that is not important. The important thing is that there is a love story which ends happily.
Are all these adventures: Inspector Fix’s chase, the journey to Bombay, the expensive elephants, the rescue mission at the Valley of the Ganges and all the others worth the effort and the trouble? Does Phileas win the bet? Does he get married to the Indian princess? I cannot give you the answers to these questions because I want you to find out for yourself. I would like you to read this book and to find out all about the adventures of Phileas Fogg and his valet Passpepartout. I am convinced that neither I, nor anyone else, can tell you about the characters and the adventures in a better way than Jules Verne did. Around the World in 80 Days is a masterpiece in the adventure genre and belive me, it is worth reading.