I read this years ago and having watched again the movie 'based' on the book with Jackie Chan. I must admit that this book as I recall was dry, dusty and a little on the slow side. However the premise behind it was fascinating and drew me in even as a child.
However ultimately if I were picking the book or film to enjoy I would go with the much altered film. Simply because it is quite humorous in its slapstick, family centered way. (Even if the critics canned it as being unrelated to the book in any shape or form. I still liked it...)