• Reviewed by Judah Bang

    The Survival of the Essex

    In the Heart of the Sea is a true story written by Nathaniel Philbrick and published in 2000. The beginning of the story is set in Nantucket off the coast of Massachusetts in 1820, in the end they are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in 1821. The whaleship Essex is under the command of a new captain. They head down the East coast through the Atlantic Ocean in order to kill Sperm Whales for oil, which they bring back to Nantucket and sell. The ship runs into many problems and they aren’t finding any whales. Finally when they get into the Pacific, they find more whales. At a port somewhere on the coast of South America an old captain tells them of a huge pod of whales out to sea, but he warns them of one whale. Thy head out to see in a last attempt to fill their haul with oil. They find the pod and go after them but something happened to the ship and it capsized. The crew that was left jumped in the boats as they watched there ship sink.

    The most interesting character in the book is Captain Pollard. Captain Pollard is the new captain for the whaleship Essex. The command was supposed to go to Owen Chase but he got denied the position. Pollard is an inexperienced captain and along the voyage makes mistakes that endanger the crew and ship. In a storm they lose most of their spare whaleboats and the ship nearly capsizes. Pollard also has a cousin on board the ship and he uses his position to help him with the crew. Pollard is the best character.

    The central conflict in the book is when the crew is stranded on the boats. After their ship went down, with only two whaleboats, they climb inside and survive without food or freshwater. After a while they come to a desert island and go to shore. Captain Pollard and a few others stay on the island hopping that a ship will come by and pick them up. Chase and the rest of the crew go back out to sea and are later picked up by a passing ship. Chase goes back to the island only to find that the crew that were left. The most conflicting part of the book is survival at sea.

    The central theme in the book In the Heart of the Sea is surviving against great odds. All throughout the story the crew of the Essex is faced with dangerous and deadly challenges. Some of the crew die and others survive. The greatest struggle is when they are stranded on the boats. They have to make gruesome sacrifice in order to survive while in the heart of the sea.

    I would give the book, In the Heart of the Sea, four stars. I would give it four stars because the beginning isn’t very exciting. After they left Nantucket the book picked up and more happened. I really liked how the story was told from the perspective of one of the crew and not the officers. Philbrick pays good attention to detail and describes things very well. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes emotional novels about survival and sacrifice. Thank you for reading my review of the novel In the Heart of the Sea, I hope you enjoy it.