Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Author: Herman Melville
Price: 11.85 USD
Pages: 608 

Synopsis ( a bookstore):
“Call me Ishmael.”
Thus begins one of the most famous journeys in literature—the voyage of the whaling ship Pequod and its embattled, monomaniacal Captain Ahab. Ishmael quickly learns that the Pequod’s captain sails for revenge against the elusive Moby Dick, a sperm whale with a snow-white hump and mottled skin that destroyed Ahab’s former vessel and left him crippled. As the Pequod sails deeper through the nights and into the sea, the divisions between man and nature begin to blur—so do the lines between good and evil, as the fates of the ship’s crewmen become increasingly unclear....
Melville’s classic tale of obsession and the sea, one of the most important and enduring masterworks of nineteenth-century literature, Moby Dick is a riveting drama, exploring rage, hope, destiny, and the deepest questions of moral truth.

I looked at this book like someone would look at a 50 mile hike. It's terribly large and there were so many pages. I had heard such terrible things about this book ranging from my father to people who had taken the class in earlier years to simple rumors. Everyone knows of this book and how treacherous it is. Whenever I so much as say Moby Dick I get a huge groan from anyone complete with an eye roll. However, when I actually sat down to read it and emptied my mind of any prejudices, I was very surprised. 

The first line of the book is "Call me Ishmael." It's just such a simple yet welcoming sentence. I love the complexity of the characters in Moby Dick for one thing. We are soon introduced to Queequeg, the cannibal. Ishmael learns that even though he may be a cannibal, he's one of the most selfless people he's met. Queequeg soon becomes my favorite character just because he takes care of the people who mock and scorn him. He's a role model for everyone even though he may be perceived as barbaric. Then there's Starbuck, who's first mate of the Pequod. Yes, this is the same Starbuck that the coffee company is named after. I thought that was a really cool fact. He's the careful sailor who cares about safety more than pride and revenge. He tries to persuade Captain Ahab from sailing into obliteration, with no avail. Captain Ahab seems like a madman most of the time, but there are episodes where he seems so human and so raw. Melville does a fantastic job of portraying different sides of each character. There isn't one character that can simply be labeled "good" or "bad." You feel so torn about each one because you know they are capable of good things. 

Melville does this writing style where he writes about a really exciting event, such as the whale hunt, and then he transcends into five chapters about the whale head. For those of you who don't know what this books is about, I'll go into a quick summary. Ishmael is the main character and he was forewarned not to choose the Pequod. He meets a motley of characters and things are hectic while the boat owners are in preparation for the voyage. He does not meet Captain Ahab but hears how great of a man he is. When he does meet Captain Ahab, he sees an older man with a wooden leg. His leg was torn by Moby Dick and Captain Ahab is vengeful. He stops at nothing to get his revenge, which includes putting the crew in great danger. He manipulates his crew. Ahab has many opportunities to stop being so hubristic but does he take them? What? There's a prophecy involved? Who in the world is Fedallah? What happened to Pip? You'll have to read to find out. 

This book is so great because of how relatable the characters are. Even though we probably don't know a whaling captain, we probably do know an obsessive boss or friend or family member who stops at nothing to get what they want. We probably sometimes are impulsive and do things that we regret, like Ishmael. Plus, after you read this book, you'll know so much about whales. I already know the difference between the right whale and the sperm whale. So give it a chance because afterall it is one of America's greatest novels. 

Rating : 4/5


  1. That was on lovely review Y.Ahn!
    'Call me Ishmael' is one of favourite start-lines...most of my favourite writers have books that start with a line like that. Riveting from the beginning!:)

  2. Thanks Talitha! I really appreciate the positive feedback

  3. And wham ! Why the hell I did not hear so much good about this fun book ?
    Large you say ? *groans* !
    But this review was superb :) totally wow !

  4. Thanks! It was super daunting when my English teacher gave this to us. But if you skip a few chapters about whale heads and such, it's a really great book!

  5. Thanks :) When my English teacher assigned this to us I was super daunted. But if you skip a few chapters about whale heads, it's a superb book!

  6. Sorry this was me too.... I am still trying to figure out how to use this new comment system!

  7. I love this book!! Now I want to re-read it again. And this was a spectacular review. The very fact that you personalised this review in your first para makes the review and the book all the more loveable and inviting. That's why i say, if the book didn't connect you, you can't make it connect to others. Loved this.

  8. Thank you so much! I really enjoyed this book even though I thought I didn't. Moby Dick is one book that just calls out to be related to.


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