Based on the true story of Alexander Selkirk, who survived alone for almost five years on an uninhabited island off the coast of Chile, The Mysterious Island is considered by many to be Jules Verne’s masterpiece.
“Wide-eyed mid-nineteenth-century humanistic optimism in a breezy, blissfully readable translation by Stump” (Kirkus Reviews), here is the enthralling tale of five men and a dog who land in a balloon on a faraway, fantastic island of bewildering goings-on and their struggle to survive as they uncover the island’s secret.
Public Domain (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
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"Wonderful novel, mediocre translation"
I was excited to see an audiobook of The Mysterious Island, one of my favorite novels by Jules Verne. Berny Clark does a good job narrating the book. I'd love to give it five stars, but unfortunately the producers decided to use a mediocre 19th-century translation that renames three of the characters and cuts some of the main points from a certain life story that forms the climax of the novel. (If you haven't read it before, I won't say anything more than that; just remember, when you get to this point, that Verne's original text is far more radical politically than what you're listening to.)
At least it's a mediocre translation and not a completely bungled one, unlike the "standard" version of 20,000 Leagues under the Sea or the "Hardwigg" version of Journey to the Center of the Earth. The story (apart from some of the political shading) is intact, and the story of this resolute band of escapees and their skin-of-their-teeth survival on the island has always been, for me, a compelling and gripping one. My three stars for the story are directed at the translation, not the original. I wish a different translation were used, but I'm glad to have it.
"Everything from nothing!"
It isn't very often that I finish an audiobook and walk around with a grin from ear to ear, chuckling. This book really grew on me and it was so much fun. I really enjoyed the characters and miss them now that the book is finished.
First, what this book isn't. Do not expect a-thrill-a-minute pace, do not expect sea monsters, vampires, or zombies. Do not expect political correctness--think of where we were in the 70's, 1970's, that is.
What this book is. It is a very well-done, old-fashioned survival tale. It is an all-male adventure that includes and all-knowing engineer and his African manservant, a seaman, a reporter, and a young teen boy. In addition, there is the indispensable dog, Top, and the orangutan, Joop, who wears a dinner jacket in his role as servant. The guys are stranded on a Pacific island after escaping imprisonment of sorts by the Confederates during the Civil War by stealing a hot air balloon and blowing away in a hurricane. They crash land with nothing but the shirts on their backs, but no matter, they have an engineer with them! This book is not a comedy, by any means, but is genuinely funny and I wonder how the excellent narrator could keep from laughing. Somehow he did keep from laughing and turned out the best possible narration for this book, narrating with total seriousness.
This book is a gem that takes a little patience to get a feel of where it's going. Once you do, just sit back, take it easy, and enjoy it. And just when you think you have figured it out, you will be hit with a twist that will make it ever more enjoyable. That is assuming you have not read EVERY review and particularly the one by the person who just has to, oh-so-innocently, include spoilers in their reviews.
You got nothing to loose and a lot of listening fun if you get this book!
"A look back of almost 150 years"
I have always enjoyed the novels of Jules Verne. While not a scientist by training, his writing includes enough technical detail (perhaps too much, at times) to make the story very believable. What I enjoy is being able to listen or read stories from this era. I feel it is important to keep the story in context. Although published nearly 20 years after the U.S. Civil War, Verne does a good job of portraying the public face of civil behavior at the time. The caring yet always appropriate relationship between the main characters does not fit well in a RAP society where caring has lost its meaning to many.
Having said all that, Verne's story lines can become tedious when he does into detail on botanicals and phylogenetic classifications. Even so, that is his style and his work influenced many scientist.
As for Mr. Clark, the narrator, I felt he did an admirable job considering that Verne's writing (originally in French), is a struggle in translated works.
I read this book several times in the past and was curious how it would work as an audio book. I enjoyed it -- more than I thought I would.
"What a story!"
Even though it invokes something of the true story of Alexander Selkirk, thought to be the model for the character of Robinson Crusoe, The Mysterious Island is a creation quite unlike other castaway tales. The plot is a fantastic one from the start, as four men, a teenage boy and a dog escape a Civil War prison camp in Virginia by way of a balloon that is promptly blown thousands of miles by a hurricane, dropping them on a remote and unknown island in the Pacific. These learned, professional fellows fall from the sky without so much as a pocketknife, but within a few months apply their talents to create a thriving little community. Their feats of chemistry, botany, seamanship and engineering conquer one challenge after another, almost without effort or misfire, and their little group is unfailingly courteous, cooperative, and brilliant. There is never any dispute over leadership that would eventually afflict most mortals.
The “mysterious” aspect of the island is an unknown and invisible helping hand, and it steadily swells in the background from minor coincidence to the near-supernatural. No spoiler here—it is a terrific and engaging story.
A few words about the translation, even though it’s not a specialty I know much about. This one is quaint and stilted, a kind of period piece with elaborate, flowery dialogue on every occasion. On the one hand, it can at times use overly simplistic language. But at other times, it almost seems the translator has selected a few of the most complicated and impressive words possible from the thesaurus, and then used them to death. The verb “expiate,” for instance, in a variety of conjugations, must appear more times in this book than in all the other literature of the 19th century combined.
Perhaps it’s true to Verne’s intentions and his times. Maybe it’s more authentic. But it would be interesting to hear this amazing story written in a more accessible and conversational, and therefore less distracting style.
"Great For It's Day"
When you read something written in 1874, then you have to keep in mind, when it was written, the culture at the time and if Science Fiction, the knowledge at that time. There is no doubt in my mind that at the time this was written it was one of the best if not the best story you could obtain. Even reading it today as a 54 year old man, it brought back the wonder and the adventure I felt as a boy, going out and playing in the woods and pretending to be on a mysterious island. As a young boy the movie Mysterious Island was my favorite next to The Wizard of Oz.
The 60's movie and the book have very little in common. There are no giant birds, no girls, etc. If you buy the book, then you need to be ready for long sections, where they tell you step by step how to make gun powder, bricks, ovens, etc.
There is a lot that can be criticized about the book, which is fairly common for novels of the time period. The engineer is a perfect man, his knowledge is total, he is calm at all times, he is a great leader, etc. So many things just fall into place, such as one of them just happens to find a corn seed in the lining of his coat, one of them mentions they could really use a beast of burden and the next day two show up at there doorstep, everything they make or attempt comes out perfect, never a mistake. The ending is a super cop out of a miracle. It also bothers me that there are no women, that of these five men, none are married, don't seem to have families and never once miss anyone from home. Anytime someone is given up for dead, you can expect some miracle to bring them back to life. I believe this to be typical of 19th century adventure novels.
The book has a whole is very interesting, there are some really good parts, some intense parts and as long as you don't expect it to compete with modern writing then it is an enjoyable read.
The narrator was good for this type of book, I am not sure I would want him to read something which involved lots of emotion.
"It's Verne. What do you expect!"
Like all of Verne's works. The dialog shows it's age, I find that charming rather than bothersome. Verne was a visionary, and I rate 'Mysterious Island' among his best. If classic literature is your thing, you will love this.
Berney Clark's performance was right on the mark. I would definitely listen to him in the future.
"My All Time Favorite Book!"
What else can I say? I love Jules Verne and most especially The Mysterious Island.
"Fascinating, wonderful adventure novel"
This is one of the best books I've listened to on Audible. The first couple of hours were a little slow but once the castaways began to build their civilization the book just took off. It's 19 hours long but don't let that put you off --- it's packed with action, mystery and humor. I found some of the later parts of the book quite touching and even a little sad.
The length of the book and its 19th century language will mean it's not for everyone but since it's only $1 to buy it's definitely worth a try. Highly recommended.
"My favorite Verne Novel"
I love this novel of Jules Verne. It's a long, detailed novel with much natural history and Verne's fascination with the technology of the times. The audio edition lets you focus on the drama and not get bogged into the details.
Cyrus Harding can do anything--even create nitroglycerin and forge iron and steel tools on an island where they didn't even have a penknife. How he solves the problems of being marooned on a Pacific island with practically nothing always makes for an exciting story.
Have not heard Berny Clark before but I love his performance--not keen on "Pencroft" and the gruff voice but other than that, I just love how he reads this book.
Five Men Against Nature --but their worst enemy is Man.
I love this book so much, I listen to it before bed almost every night.
"Builds and builds to a great read!"
I would put this book securely among the top ten I've listened to.
I could easily compare this book to other classics like The Swiss Family Robinson, Robinson Crusoe, and Journey to the Center of the Earth by the same author.
I most enjoyed the "big reveal" towards the end. Honestly I did not see it coming though looking back I probably should have.
I would not really use the word moved but I thought the cavern named Granite House was in my minds eye spectacular.
This book is written back before instant gratification was the norm. Due to this expect a slow start that familiarizes and endears the reader to each character and truly makes one empathize with the whole crew. I love the execution and can honestly say I felt as if I were there on the island with them. Don't be surprised if in the reading you meet me there!
"in the words of Pencroft, Hoorah!"
Yes, yes and yes again, I loved this book and couldn't put it down.
Any thing involving pencroft and food!
Try it, you'll love it!
Some very interesting practical solutions expressed in this story, of how to survive in those circumstances.
Fantastic story and narration, the kind of book that makes you want to hear more of it once you reach the end.
"I am delighted"
I read the book immediately after I finished 20 000 leagues below the sea, and I found the same narrative style as well as similarities between the characters.
If you enjoyed the previous book this one is a must read.
The narrator is just perfect, impersonating each character, and trying to dramatise at the climax moments.
Really good book couldn’t stop listening to it, it would keep me up all night
Narrator really makes the book come alive
"Good at points but sometimes dull"
i wanted to like it and if you like lots of chemistry read it, but its not a thriller. Some people will find it fascinating, but as I say I got a bit bored at times.
"A great book"
Well written and beautifully read.
Imagine a 19th century version of The Martian!
An uplifting story about a struggle for survival and the deployment of science to do so.
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