It starts with the finding of a journal by an old scientist, which inspires our narrator's uncle to go on a journey in search of whether it is possible to reach the center of the Earth.
I was really excited when I started this. I had loved Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea when I read it this summer, so I knew I was going to be in for a Vernian treat. I've also been teaching a small science-fiction unit in my sophomore English class, and since I talk a lot about Verne, it was fitting that I read one of his novels.
I had to force myself to read this one. Perhaps it was the timing-with school stuff piling up, random drama elsewhere, me being distracted from reading-but I really didn't feel this book calling to me from my nightstand. By the time I finally finished it, I realized that there were a lot of things that I wanted to happen in the book that didn't. I expected the narrator to be like the narrator in Leagues, smart, educated, and determined. Instead, I had a whiny boy who complained almost the entire time they were on the journey. Say what you will, but if the main protagonist isn't interesting, then the book won't call to you.
I also struggled with the believability of this one. I was fine with all the science, etc that was presented in Leagues. It made sense, and it translated well to modern time. Everything here, didn't. I didn't buy that they could climb down miles into the Earth with no change in temperature, or that there would be a cavern in the middle of the earth with a sea-complete with sea monsters. I think that when this was published, people would have bought into that aspect of the book. It just didn't come across as powerful or as magical in modern times. We know that the middle of the Earth is molten and extremely hot, so that logical sense of myself couldn't buy into the magical qualities of the land below ours.
I also felt the book lacked just a little something to draw me in. There was a great sense of wonder in Leagues that wasn't here. This might connect to the horrid narrator, but nothing was presented in that mystical sense that I so admired in Verne's other book.
By the time I finished, I was just grateful to be done with it. This is just a book that didn't come across right to me as a modern reader, but I do see how it could have inspired many when it was first published. I think that acknowledging there might be other worlds out there would have drawn people in.
It just didn't work for me.