Journey to the Center of the Earth was my most recent literature/book club read, and as part of my class, I get to write a review/analysis. Woo-hoo. I was a little leery of the book when I started since I’d tried reading it once before and couldn’t really get into it. Something about the style and the characters just didn’t click with me; I’m more of a Conan Doyle and Poe fan when it comes to 19th century lit. But this time, for whatever reason, I enjoyed it at least a little more. The humor actually starting coming though this time, and that definitely helped me get through it. Anyways. On to the actual review!
When an eccentric professor acquires an ancient book, a riddle on a spare piece of parchment tucked neatly within its pages leads him and his nephew on an unparalleled adventure. The unlocked riddle brings them to a remote mountain on Iceland, where they enter an extinct volcano on a daring quest to reach the center of the earth. They soon find themselves at a giant underground ocean where the laws of science are constantly redefined and prehistoric creatures are in abundance. But in the bowels of the earth, a shocking discovery pits the travellers face to face with their own terrifying past. -Amazon Summary
As I said, I liked Journey better this time around than I did last time, but there were still a lot of things that I hated. As far as good things go, it was funny; Axel made a lot of amusing little observations and smug remarks regarding his uncle. Also, it was a good example of early Victorian science fiction, and it can be a fun read for those of us who enjoy the style of that era. But Journey was nowhere near as good as The Lost World or Some Words With a Mummy. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why it’s considered a classic and required as literature when the rest of the early science fiction masters seem to be ignored. I didn’t see any moral dilemmas, character arcs, or noble plots typically found in books classified as literature. *shrugs* I don’t get it.
The plot was…rather disappointing. There was an obvious objective: reach the center of the Earth. But there was no clear point of resolution. No resounding “We did it!” moment. That’s problem #1. Secondly, it rambled all over the place with the characters seeming to completely forget about their previous objective and just enjoying the fact that they were miles underground. Granted, a loose plot is somewhat common with the writing of that era, but this was one of the more grating examples.
The characters were a bit better, but still not particularly likable. Lindenbrock seemed to have two sides; one being the utterly obsessed professor who gives no thought to anyone else and the other being the concerned, loving uncle. And he couldn’t decide which one he was, a fact that can be extraordinarily confusing for the reader. PICK ONE AND STICK WITH IT! Axel also seemed to have that problem since he waffled between curious scientist and freeloading nephew who can’t defy his uncle for fear of losing his position. The only character I actually liked was Hans and he said a probable total of 10 words throughout the entire book.
Also regarding the characters, there were no character arcs. No change in their personalities. No growth. Nothing. Now, this might have been alright with Hans (Hans is already perfect.), but with Lindenbrock and Axel, there’s a lot of room for improvement. There was so much potential with these characters, but Verne didn’t tap into it. It’s maddening! Absolutely maddening, I tell you!
Anyone else have any thoughts on this? Any redeeming points that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments!
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