While Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” is a hallmark of American literature, navigating this epic can feel like sailing against the wind. Arcade Sunshine Media’s $3.99 interactive version, “Moby Dick–A Digital Odyssey for your iPad,” augments the whaling tome with a host of features, from interactive maps to videos and photos, adding new insights and perspectives in an easily digestible format.
A digitally-enhanced and augmented guide through Melville’s masterpiece, Arcade Sunshine’s version offers entertaining additions such as an interactive glossary of whaling terms, a timeline of Melville’s life and archival video footage of an actual whaling expedition. The muted background only served to make the embedded media pop. We particularly enjoyed the colorful and interactive map of the journey of the Pequod, which helps the reader understand where in the world the ship voyaged, and what was happening in the story at that time.
Eight interactive themes appear throughout the Guide section of the app: Melville’s Life, The Story Origins, The Characters of Moby Dick, Voyage of the Pequod, The Cetological Chapters, Whaling Ships, Whaling as Industry and Literary Contributions. Swiping up reveals neatly organized and visually appealing rows of content options. Within a theme, you have four options: a video summary of the topic, photography with descriptive captions that further contextualize the story, featured media such as video or interactive items, and personal notes or tweets on that section. Overall, we found the app responsive and easy to navigate.
Of course, you also get a simple e-reader version of the text for your iPad, with two font type choices. You can keep notes as you read, or share your thoughts on specific passages via Twitter from within the app. A convenient tab for Book sits at the top right of every page within the Guide section, which allows you to easily toggle between the two. You can bookmark pages for returning to various sections. And, when you want to revisit the interactive components, a Guide tab sits along the bottom left.
The most significant part of the digital enhancements in this app come from a series of short films with literary professors John Bryant and Christopher Sten who discuss the themes, characters and impact of this American classic on history. The videos of these two experts from Hofstra University and George Washington University are shot on black background. Surprisingly, the educational nature of their talks isn’t condescending or boring. On the contrary, it helped to illuminate the traditionally ponderous cetological chapters that form the heart of the story.
So when your book club decides on this classic American tale of whaling and obsession, don’t groan with dread that you’ll be trapped in a world of blubber and sailing terms. This interactive iPad journey through “Moby Dick” is the perfect diversion, which will offer insight and fun you might not expect.