Reviews of Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864)
Quick summary: Not one of Verne's better ones.
After reading "Around the World in 80 Days" and "20,000 Leagues Under the Seas"* (both of which I completely enjoyed) I was a little letdown by this one. The story telling is good but the story itself is a little predictable and seems rushed.
In some ways it's like 20,000 Leagues...without Captain Nemo. Like that book it has three main charactors: A scientist, his assistant and a strong man (there's a fair amount of difference between the strongmen but they're both interesting men in their own ways). The ending is very much like 20,000 Leagues in that [SPOILER ALERT] the author takes the cheap way out of having to explain things by allowing the narrator to become unconscious. [END OF SPOILER].
Here's why it seemed rushed: A fair amount of the book (the first 39 out of 45 chapters)takes us a little ways into the journey distance-wise. [SPOILER ALERT] Then they fall down a well and clear thru to the other side of the planet. [END OF SPOILER]
*From gutenberg.org where you can download this book for free: The French title of this novel is Vingt mille lieues sous les mers. This is accurately translated as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the SEASórather than the SEA, as with many English editions. Verne's novel features a tour of the major oceans, and the term Leagues in its title is used as a measure not of depth but distance.