Book Reviews, Project 4

Journey to the Center of the Earth – Book No. 18

This book review is a part of Reading Week. To read more reviews, click here!

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.

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Book Reviews, Project 4

Treasure Island – Book No. 2

34. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883)

Dates: 1/28/20 – 2/1/20 (4 days)

Basic Plot: A boy finds a treasure map on a faraway island. He goes to find it with some help – but who can he trust?

Experience Before Reading: Honestly, not really any. I didn’t know if it was about castaways or life in the tropics or pirates. But I’ll be damned if I didn’t know about the Vegas hotel.

Takeaway: I have a confession: I actually had to do a bit of research before writing this part. This book contains so many tidbits of modern perceptions on pirates: the parrots, the black spots, the x marks the spot, and of course all with a yo ho ho and a bottle of rum. With the cook on board named Long John Silver, I began to wonder just how much of our stereotypes were directly lifted from this book?

And from my research came the conclusion: So much. So so much.

Honestly, this is such a fun and simple read I just ate it up. Told (mostly) from the perspective of the cabin boy, it maintains a slight coming-of-age story arc that as a student is always relatable to me.

So why then only a 9/10? Well, dear reader, is anything ever perfect? I’m only 2% of the way through my literary journey and there’s plenty of other books that could usurp it as a favorite. (Oh, and also sometimes the seafaring vocabulary got the best of my little imagination and I had no idea what was going on.)

Would I Recommend It?: Each and every day of the week.

Abbey’s Review

Dates: 5/6/20 – 5/8/20 (2 days)

Plot: A young boy uncovered a treasure map to a far away island. He embarks upon a perilous journey to uncover the treasure as the crew begins to turn on each other.

Experience Before Reading: Muppet Treasure Island is something I vaguely remember, but I didn’t really know what to expect. Jacqueline read this one first and told me it was pretty good though.

Takeaway: This was a fun read! The characters were vibrant, and it’s was packed full of so many pirate references that I sometimes had to pause to take stock of what thing meant. I had no idea Long John Silver was a character, and honestly I’m not sure how I missed that. Either way, I still will never eat at the fast food Long John Silvers – regardless of if he was a good cook in the story.

Would I Recommend It?: If you are looking for a fun and easy read I’d definitely recommend this. I don’t think it is a life changing book, but I actively enjoyed reading it. I was a big fan of Doctor Lively, mostly because any man who has a snuff box filled with Parmesan cheese is worth knowing! My only question is, did Ben Gunn ever get to eat that cheese?

Who got it right? Have you read Treasure Island? Share your thoughts with us down in the comments below.

Read our next review: The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

Click here to see our full list of 100 classic books

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