I tried reading The Jungle on my own as a self-propelled venture to explore the greatest or most important novels of the 20th Century.
Now, I found this book in a book store, and was intrigued by what I read about it from other sources. (Internet, the always trustworthy quotes on the ostentatious special anniversary sleeve, etc.)
It wasn't until I actually tried reading it, it was then that I had passed the figurative event horizon: I got caught in the maelstrom and lost the Falconer. (Purely puerile melodrama... ^_^)
I was surprised, unpleasantly, to find no dialogue in this book. I found myself reading through the first chapters actually waiting for the characters to develop themselves, and not have Upton tell me about them, or infer or interpret their actions and feelings, etc for me. (First rule of writing: Trust in your work, trust in your readers.) I found there to be no way to attenuate my ennui from having my hand held throughout the story of jejune characters and their sub-standard living and working conditions, save the occasional tour through the slaughterhouse. But even that was absent of lyrical and rhetoric minutaie that could have captured my interest and sustained me long enough to finish this whole story. And it's a little frustrating when the author insists on telling you "You can't help but humanize these pigs." I'm pretty sure that we could have done that ourselves, without your sprinkling your metaphor cliffnotes. (PS: The addition of Cliffnotes, or explanation of your own works is what lowered the initial intrinsic value of T.S. Eliot's Wasteland. But that was before Upton's time, so it's not HIS fault.)
To all those that perpetuate the "historical significance" of this book: WE GET IT! But believe me, this is no "Uncle Tom's Cabin." (And even that was a gross over-exaggration used to blanket a finite dissection of Pharisee-esque and, as far as economic afairs are concerned, irrational Southern slave owners.) I do agree that everyone in high school should read this, if not for anything but to prove that you can write something so artless and jejune containing nothing more than puerilely acerbic glutting and still be considered a great success and important figure in the history of the great benefit of future American generations. (At this point I would like to point out that I have said the previous statement with a facetious undertone. I'm not sure if you could tell, but if you liked this book and found it helpful throughout the book, then: Your welcome! ^_^)
To summarize, reading this book was like watching a cheap horror movie that was a collaborated attempt by both Michael Moore and Michael Bay: cheap story filled with glutting into the Socialist agenda where you try and look past it for the macabre pot-of-gold at the end of this oil-stain rainbow, but are ultimately disappointed when you realize that there is as much substance to this story as any Michael Bay or Michael Moore film, and definitely worth only a minute fraction of the amount of time you would spend watching either of their films.
IF you do happen to enjoy either of those ingenuous Pharisees, then you will definitely love this book.
You've been warned.
PS: If you do want to see a movie with the same Socialist propoganda, but with alot better gore, watch George Romero's Land of the Dead. Slightly more entertaining.