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80. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (1864)
Dates: 7/14/20 – 7/15/20 (1 day)
Plot: After deciphering a message left in an ancient book, a professor, his nephew, and a guide head to Iceland where there’s a hole to the center of the Earth.
Experience Before Reading: This seems to be a story most people are somewhat familiar with – myself included. There’s exciting things inside the Earth, but I couldn’t tell you exactly what was there until I actually read it myself.
Takeaway: As an adventure lover, I was really looking forward to this book. Yet it left me incredibly indifferent. I’m neither upset to have read the book nor am I grateful I took the time to read it.
I have read other Jules Verne stories in the past (and will be re-reading them in the future). But this one just didn’t do it for me.
I know I always go on about how characters are written, so I won’t spend too much time unpacking this – but these characters aren’t very relatable or attachable. The quirky scientist, the skeptic boy, and the stoic Icelandic hunter. I don’t know how inventive that was when the book was published, but to a modern-day ear, it’s been overdone. For that reason, I’m not going to be too critical here.
SPOILERS AHEAD: Almost a third of the book is about the preparations for the journey, which includes a trip to Copenhagen and then a long journey in Iceland. The funny thing about it is those are two of my favorite places in the entire world. Reading about them in this setting felt a little funny. I was eagerly awaiting the actual journey that I just didn’t care about the train ride to Zealand or the voyage on the ship through the North Sea.
Although, I will concede that these drawn out parts did make the world seem realistic and plausible. There was careful attention to Victorian-era science that I appreciated. The tools they use to monitor their surroundings and the “calculations” they do seem realistic. Obviously as they get deeper and deeper underground, the science falls more and more apart, but I can set aside my convictions for a bit. But how they exit their subterranean journey…
Anyway, I appreciate the imagination and creativity it took to craft this story. The concept of ancient eras still flourishing today is surely worthy of a book. But even so, it was lacking somewhere and I just can’t quite put my finger on it. Has anyone read this book? I want to know other’s opinions on it… am I missing something? I want to love it, I really do.
Would I Recommend It?: Probably not.