This is the second Jules Verne novel I have read and it is superior to the first, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. While it does not have quite the same strengths as 20,000 Leagues, it lacks a character as compelling as Captain Nemo and is not quite as inventive, it does not have the same tremendous faults either.
Journey to the Centre of the Earth is fairly well paced. It divides into three sections. An initial section where the tunnel the the centre of the Earth is located and traveled to, a middle spelunking section, and a final section where the Underground World is discovered.
Even though it does show a fascination with Science, it is really more fantastic than 20,000 Leagues. It shows the early tropes of this genre with giant mushroom forests and forgotten dinosaurs and underground seas. Not a great deal happens in it, however. If you compare it to At the Earth's Core by Burroughs, it is a bit boring and shows a peculiar lack of interest in the more intrinsically dramatic stuff.
However, it is marvelously inventive. Verne's breathless enthusiasm carries it forward and makes it seem plausible and it moves without becoming bogged down. Verne's strength is in inventiveness and one is inclined to think that his weaknesses are everything else, but here these weaknesses don't seem to matter very much and the wonder of the Journey and the environments move along without bogging down.
Despite the fact that Verne can almost be allergic to exploiting dramatic possibilities, the book comes across as a fun exploration. In the future Underground Worlds were never to seem so inventive (Tolkien aside) because they all ripped of this book so much.