Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, Kindle Edition, Dover, 1864, 240p.
Journey to the Center of the Earth is the first of Verne’s works that I’ve read, and although I enjoyed it, I won’t be running out to pick up another. I think because the ‘science’ that is used in this book is now so laughable, it doesn’t have that element of reality that I like in sci-fi or adventure novels.
There are plenty of things that I really enjoyed about Journey to the Center of the Earth, like all the talk of volcanoes. When I was younger, I was adamant on becoming a volcanologist. Sometimes to this day I regret the adults in child-me’s life for dissuading that career path. Yeah I know there’s no volcanoes in Australia. Do I care? Nope. It would have meant I got to travel. Anyway, I digress.
Journey takes the traditional adventure novel and pairs it with science fiction. The plot is essentially finding a way to the center of the earth, and then the journey to get there. What’s annoying is that the adventure is told in a narrative style, as having happened in the past. It leads to much of the story being told, not shown. There is little description, and hardly any build up to the thrilling parts. It’s not scary when you are told there was a rock slide – you need to have that rock slide described to you through illuminating words and description of what is actually happening to the characters. I suppose that means I’m not a big fan of Verne’s style in Journey, and I have a feeling that he continued in this same way in his other novels.
The characters were interesting, if a little sketchy. We had Professor Lidenbrock who I sometimes liked and other times loathed, and his nephew, the orphan Axel, who was the narrator for this story. I mostly hated Axel, I don’t like reading about cowardice in adventure novels, and Axel generally needed to be goaded into action and saved every twenty pages or so. Hans was my favourite character, but that could be because we know nothing about him. He was quite two dimensional, and I wanted to know more about him but was left hanging.
The ending was completely unbelievable, but the setting is somewhere I used to beg my Mum and Dad to take me during school holidays. They always said no. For good reason.
Overall, Journey to the Center of the Earth was not a complete waste of time to read, but it’s certainly not one of my favourite books. I’d advise fans of adventure and sci-fi novels give Journey a read, if only to see where their favoured genres have taken Verne’s work and made it their own.