I grew up reading Verne, 20,000 Leagues being an early favorite, but unfortunately, as important a figure as he may be in literature and scifi history, I don't think his writing holds up. I've revisited Verne a few times over recent years and though I love Nemo etc. I can't enjoy him now. His novels are, and it pains me to say it, better in an abridged version. This one in particular just goes on far too long and slowly and belabors events. And the narrator didn't help either, very slow and monotonous. I finished it, but I cheated and put the playback speed up to 2x.
Only in a tangential way is this book a sequel to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I enjoyed this book, but would not tell someone to put it on their bucket list. To some extent, it is like Robinson Crusoe, but there isn't much plot as far as the reason they end up on the island. It is somewhat like Pitcairn's Island, except the latter is based on a true story and has honest-to-goodness conflicts, human relationship problems, while in this story everyone gets along so well that it is not at all believable. No one is a slacker, no one is argumentative, no one challenges Harding (who I understand was really named "Smith" in the original). Interestingly, there is also never mention of a woman - not a mother who is missed, not a wife, lover, sister, nor do the men (except at one point at the very end when the whole purpose of bringing a wife would be to populate the place) ever mention wishing for female company (not that I am looking for objectification of women, as would often be the case in reality, but face it, even the song "There is Nothing Like a Dame" would be a more realistic picture). So Verne gets to show off his knowledge of science and engineering, and how someone very resourceful might be able to rig up all kinds of things on a desert island, and it's not that they don't face some adversaries to move the story along, but it doesn't have much depth. And then quite towards the end, Captain Nemo is revealed (which is not a surprise to anyone who knows ahead of time what this book is about, which is likely if you are checking out whether you should listen to a 19th century book). Without telling the readers of this review exactly what Captain Nemo's involvement is, let's just say he does some very positive things and what redeems this book is the question that he asks on his deathbed of Harding, after the details of Nemo's life are filled in: "now that you know my history, your judgment!”. Harding is very diplomatic. After all, without Nemo, they would not have survived. But (as anyone who read 20,000 Leagues knows), Nemo also caused the death of many people in sinking the frigate the Abraham Lincoln, and, certainly, there was a better way to deal with that situation. He was merciless. And this question is what redeems the book, because though Harding is diplomatic and replies wisely, each of us can consider whether Nemo is a hero or a villain, and consider a complex character like Nemo (as one might consider a complex character like Napoleon, who also might have wanted to bring enlightenment to countries that could use it, but was responsible for the deaths of so many in this endeavor - on a scale much larger than Nemo's, of course). The value of such a question is not just to consider how to judge others, but even more important, how to judge ourselves, how to set our own moral compass. The book has value for discussions of this nature. The completion of the narrative of Captain Nemo is valuable for this discussion - a character to refer to when trying to grapple with good and evil as embodied by a person.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It was very long - split up into 3 books but worth every word of it. In fact I probably will listen to the whole story again. It's too bad Hollywood butchered it when they made a movie out of it.
Really enjoyed this book, very interesting and exciting. Kept me interested from beginning to end. Would highly recommend it.
Great story, excellent narration, fun characters, interesting events, nice tie in with 20000 leagues, has all the makings of the classic we expect. I highly reccomend this book.
My ten year old son and I listened to the full 19 hours! Our first audio book; we loved it. Especially the latter half. I found the reader easy to listen to and enjoyable as the story can be extremely descriptive and scientific at times. We can't wait to start another Jules Vern.
The level of effort and research that Jules Verne poured into this book leaves the reader craving much more than what most modern books offer. I haven't been this entertained with a book for a very long time. Wonderful performance and an edge-of-your-seat story, with a satisfying ending. I would highly recommend this book to any and all.
Mysterious island reminds me of the book Hatchet written 100 years before. Castaways survive on an island through their ingenuity with plentiful description of how they make things livable. How they grow crops, make a home, raise animals, and even harness electricity to a certain degree. My only criticism with it is that sometimes the description of their invention is too much. Some parts would make a good survivalist guide by themselves. Overall I enjoyed it.