I re-read this for my 2014 reading challenge. The category was "relive the magic", so I picked this because I remember liking it when I was younger. Now, I would recommend to kids because I enjoyed it more the first time I read it.
Now, my problem with this book is that it's not a timeless adventure. Many scientific facts are outdated and the female characters' roles let you know that it was written in 1864, like this part:
'What, Gräuben, you mean you aren't going to advise me against an expedition like that?'
'No, my dear Axel, and I would gladly come with your uncle and you, if it weren't that a girl would only be in the way.'
That was so disappointing. I thought she was going!
And I know it's fantasy and science shouldn't be an issue, but still, I couldn't help being distracted thinking "that's not true!" several times, at least until this quote came along:
'Science, my boy, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.'
I had to give Jules Verne some credit then. He tried to be as accurate as possible when it came to science and you can see that in the explanations mid adventure.
As for the characters, they were sadly flat. Professor Lidenbrock was the most interesting to me, but wasn't developed at all. He is the typical mad scientist, in a good way. He is so driven by the adventure that you can't help being interested in it too. On the other hand, Axel is not your typical main character. He is a coward and weak, always being saved and always complaining. It was okay at first, then it got a little annoying. I mean, if someone tells you you're going to the center of the earth through a volcano, you are allowed to be reluctant, but once you are almost at the center and all your theories have been disproved, accept the fact that you were wrong and celebrate the discoveries. Finally, you have Hans, the most robotic man alive. He almost never spoke. Throughout the whole novel he must have said 10 words, but without him the others would have died for sure. It would have been so interesting to see him as a developed character, maybe through conversations with Professor Lidenbrock (as he was the only one with whom he could have talked to), but he was only used as a tool for survival.
A lot of people complain because they never reached the center, but that didn't bother me at all. It just made the adventure more "realistic", if that makes any sense. They tried and saw some pretty incredible things, but still leaves you wondering: what's really in the center then? What would've Jules Verne picture for the center? And that's one of the things I liked the most about it.