Book Review: Journey to the Centre of the Earth


Published: 11/25/1864

Author: Jules Verne

Looking for a break from reading fantasy novels, I thought I would read a classic book. So I picked up Journey to the Centre of the Earth at the Reno Library used book sale. It took me about 25-30 pages before I realized that it was still a science fiction novel.  Sometimes I’m a little slow.

Axel*and his uncle find a coded message. Once they decrypt it, they discover that the message is instructions on how to get to the center of the earth. They almost immediately strike off for Iceland (where the instructions say to go), much to Axel’s dismay, who wants to stay with his new fiancée in Germany. They hire a guide (more of a Sherpa), Hans, and strike out to the caldera of a dormant volcano. They find the entrance to a system of caves that they hope will lead them to the center. Along the way they run out of water, encounter a thunderstorm (where they lose three days of travel), and lose most of their food supply.

Axel is the most defeatist person since Charlie Brown (or the other way, since this was written long before Charlie Brown existed). Every tiny little thing makes him want to turn around – it rains, he wants to turn around; they can’t find their way, he wants to turn around. It was a little annoying.

The science from 1864 is interesting, to say the least. Some of the science, presented as fact, seems seriously out dated now. I imagine that in 2168, they will look at the science fiction of today and scoff. I can see why Verne was so popular in his day, but now it just feels a bit dated. In addition to the whiney narrator, I would ultimately not recommend Journey to the Centre of the Earth outside of idle curiosity.

WWYT Rating: 6.0

Goodreads: 3.83/5

*The internet tells me his name is Axel, but he was called Henry in the version I read.


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