Book: Journey to the Center of the Earth

"Journey to the Center of the Earth" by Jules VerneIt was a secret message by an ancient alchemist, found on a crumbling scrap of parchment. And if Saknussemm was right, then every theory about the molten core of the earth is wrong. Professor Otto Lidenbrock has to learn the truth. So Lidenbrock, his nephew Axel, and the Icelandic hunter Hans clibm down the cone of an arctic volcano and into…

A realm of awesome mystery, weird beauty–and deadly peril. Where vast caverns and endless mazes lead to an underground ocean, living fire, and prehistoric mosnters. But where any wrong turn, any misstep, can leave the explorers trapped forver in the enternal darkness of a planet-sized tomb…

Buried alive at the heart of the world…

Can I just say that whoever wrote that synopsis has a serious love affair with ellipses? Also, I know that Otto Lidenbrock and Axel are the original names of the characters in the book; but would it hurt the publishers of this particular book to read their edition and find out that the characters have been renamed Professor Von Hardwigg and Harry/Henry, respectively? Why do I say Harry/Henry? Because is a number of cases, the Professor starts calling our protagonist Henry istead of the established Harry.

That gripe aside, I have this to say: I survived the Journey to the Center of the Earth!

Okay, other than the fact that I just want say/write that, that statement is a bit truish. When I started reading the book, I didn’t know it would be this tedious. My experience with classics have been spotty, having been bored to death by Wuthering Heights, but completely enjoying the Sherlock Holmes stories. I remember also liking A Little Princess, but can’t recall much of the classics I’ve read–in their actual-novel format, I mean.

Journey to the Center of the Earth has us seeing events through the cowardly eyes of Axel, also known as Harry and Henry in the version I’ve read. And it takes us more than half the book before we actually do any journeying to the earth’s core. Sure, the title does say “to the,” so it involves the journey from the start. And in all fairness to the novel, the journey to Iceland is actually more interesting than the actual journey to the center of the earth. Seriously. From the time they enter the crater, there’s nothing much to read but Axel’s complaints and whining.

We get random bits of information about minerals, temperatures–and other science-y, academic stuff while our protagonists are journeying, but for the most part, it’s just Axel complaining about never getting to see his bethroted again, about his regrets at not trying to stop his uncle from endeavoring this quest, and his constant questions about how they’re going to leave once they reach the center of the earth. When your own hero doesn’t want to do the journey, how the hell are we (the readers) supposed to want it too?

And when interesting things start happening in their journey, we get a few accounts of it–before our main protagonists faints! The only time we get to see actual heart-pumping action from our protagonist is when he gets chased by a prehistoric crocodile, and the prehistoric version of a gorilla. And that turns out to be a dream.

Early on in the book, our protagonists establishes that the novel is a recount of his experiences–which means he’s already survived the journey. But there were instances in the book where I wished he would perish so we could latch on to the Professor or the Icelander instead. I cared more about them than I did the cowardly Axel!

I have two more classics in my to-be-read pile, and I’m really hoping they’re not as boring as this one.

Then again, I could just be an uncultured barbarian. Check out what other people have to say about the novel:
Becky’s Book Review
SFF World
Shona’s Book Shelves