By: Jules Verne
Axel is a young geologist and nephew of the famous Otto Lidenbrock, a renowned professor and eccentric scholar.
One day while waiting in his Uncle’s house, Lidenbrock charges through the door and beckons Axel to his study. The young man soon discovers that the professor is in possession of a document that will send them on a journey only one man has ever dared take. Such a journey promises to shake the scientific community to its core if they can only survive long enough to tell their story.
Thus begins the tale of two men’s journey to the center of the Earth.
I rarely ever read the introductions of books mostly because I don’t find them interesting. Harsh, I know, but I’m just being honest. However, I read the introduction to Journey to the Centre of the Earth because this is a classic, and I just wanted to see what was said. I’m glad I did. The introduction is from the editor of the Arcturus edition in which the editor openly admits that the book is a relic of its time. The story is filled to the brim with scientific inaccuracies and the fact that this was noted to me at the very beginning means I don’t feel like I can detract points from the story for containing faulty logic. It’s 155 years old. That says enough.
In fact, the inaccuracies make the story more comical because, as an educated reader, you will know the premise of the story is completely absurd. I suppose I found that mildly charming in the beginning, however, by the end of the book, the charm had worn off. That being said, I do not want to discredit the points where Verne actually teaches the reader about real-life scientific discoveries. He discusses how coal is made and the eras where certain prehistoric creatures lived. The author spends so much time talking about rocks that you might feel a little crazy by the end, so there is plenty of scientific jargon to take in. The author likely went this route to make his story sound more convincing, but the sheer abundance of these additions made it mind-numbing at times.
Verne also justifies everything that takes place in the story through a Sherlock and Watson dynamic between the professor (Sherlock) and Axel (Watson). Axel asks Lidenbrock something and the professor will, in turn, respond with an answer that makes Axel sound like an idiot for questioning him. The answer is always some obvious conclusion that any intelligent and scholarly individual such as Lidenbrock would be able to deduce. The reader is supposed to be struck dumb by his genius. Spoiler alert, I wasn’t and you wouldn’t be either.
The one place I really want to give the book credit is how Verne was more focused on the adventure than the destination. This book has short (sometimes very oddly named) chapters that keep the reader in suspense and the pace consistent. There isn’t ever really a dull moment in this book, as there shouldn’t be for such a perilous journey. I appreciated that.
One final note, I thought I would read Journey to the Centre of the Earth to take a step away from science fiction and give you all a review on something else. Imagine my surprise to discover that this novel is considered early science fiction. What can I say? I’m magnetically attracted I guess. The most interesting aspect to me about how the story is written is how most modern science fiction is written in third person, past tense. This book is written in first person and switches between past and present tense. Oddly enough, it works because of the way Verne organizes the story. Kudos to him for being a pioneer, I guess.
Overall Rating: 3.5
P.S. Hans is the real MVP of the story.
P. P. S. You will probably get tired of Lidenbrock calling Axel “My boy.”