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Publisher's Summary

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.

What listeners say about The Mysterious Island

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

54 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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!

33 people found this helpful

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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.

12 people found this helpful

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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.

11 people found this helpful

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Now I understand

Now I understand why this is a classic. How the hell did he predict cold fusion back in 1874? Splitting hydrogen and oxygen from water? crazy. He also totally plugged his earlier boom 20,000 leagues under the sea at the end of mysterious island. So read that one first maybe?

4 people found this helpful

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Absolutely Incredible

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.

3 people found this helpful

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My All Time Favorite Book!

What else can I say? I love Jules Verne and most especially The Mysterious Island.

3 people found this helpful

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a master of story telling

I feel sorry for the authors of this century and last century because it's a hard feat to write better than Jules Verne.

2 people found this helpful

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Oldie but a goodie

My god Jules Verne is amazing. Started a bit slow for me but totally made up for it. Such a great book.

2 people found this helpful

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Totally enthralling story

If you could sum up The Mysterious Island in three words, what would they be?

Exiting, intriguing, addictive

What other book might you compare The Mysterious Island to and why?

Like Swiss Family Robinson, but more focused on the science. The relationship between the characters is familial and supportive and inspiring.

Have you listened to any of Berny Clark’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, I haven't. Would love to try!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, it is too long for that, but I did listen in large time shares, say 45 minutes to an hour at a sitting.

Any additional comments?

Can't believe I haven't read this before. Very underrated, should be mandatory reading along with Swiss Family Robinson and Robinson Crusoe.

2 people found this helpful

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  • G. Stewart
  • 07-20-15

in the words of Pencroft, Hoorah!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, yes and yes again, I loved this book and couldn't put it down.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Mysterious Island?

Any thing involving pencroft and food!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

Any additional comments?

Try it, you'll love it!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Steffi
  • 06-30-15

Capital!

Fantastic story and narration, the kind of book that makes you want to hear more of it once you reach the end.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Botty
  • 01-16-15

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.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeremy
  • 01-16-13

Great

Really good book couldn’t stop listening to it, it would keep me up all night

Narrator really makes the book come alive

2 people found this helpful

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  • M
  • 11-27-18

A secret sequal that's really a prequal

If you are a already a Jules Verne fan you will spot early on the probable presence of a character you already know from his other books. But don't worry this book isn't about him. It's a great story of surviving on ones whits and engineering absolutely from scratch with some real moments of suspense and danger along the way.
As for our mysterious character (Who I will not name despite it being really obvious from very early on) What looks like being a Sequel is in fact far more interesting as a prequel as we learn of the early life of one of Verne's greatest creations. I would even go as far as to suggest that as origin stories go it has much potential for some great (possibly steampunk) fanfic.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Patricia
  • 07-10-15

Brilliant

Some very interesting practical solutions expressed in this story, of how to survive in those circumstances.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Stephen
  • 06-24-21

An all-time classic

one must remember that Jules Verne was an educated man and at the time that this was written the United States and England were at the dawn of "modern" science. This book celebrates the passion for education and the investigation of new things through the words of both Jules Verne and the hero of the adventure Cyprus Harding.

This book is a perfect reflection of both the attitude and the dedication to study that our ancestors of the time help in the highest regard, which defined a society that was both well educated and morally rich.

Some might argue that these opinions are somewhat biased and seen through rose tinted glasses other the romanticism of the past, however the values that our ancestors held in the highest regard are so sadly lacking in our "modern-day" society.

The narrative of this book dwells largely on the scientific study of flora and fauna and touches deeply on the natural sciences, which only adds to the charm of the adventure of a group of men, escaping from the terrible effects of the American Civil War only to grind themselves marooned on an unknown island hundreds of miles from civilisation.

These men were what we would term today as "old school educated", armed with practical knowledge which allowed then to survive the terrible and hostile environment that they now found themselves in.

Armed with that knowledge and applying it practically to their current situation allowed them no only to survive but to colonise their small island, building small manufactories and going beyond basic survival to establishing a proper civilised community.

The prodigious fauna does, in some places, over-step the boundaries of possibility, but it displays the fantastic passion that the people of that generation felt towards society. The importance of learning all aspects of the sciences and the practicality of survival.

This adventure rates very highly to anybody who has the imagination to let themselves be immersed in the society of that erase, open their minds to the infinite possibilities and the great hopes of the people of that time period and to live through every success and tragedy of this group of people who pulled together in the common fight for survival.

It is a great pity that the passions and hopes of our modern-day attitudes and education are not so profound, and we have lost that which we were given so long ago... a desire to learm and to further ourselves for the good of all.

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  • Zeus
  • 04-07-18

Awesome narration!!

The narration was so good that it Made the story more interesting, worth it, great job:)

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • 11-01-16

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.

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  • peter
  • 10-03-16

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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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-21-19

AMAZING!!!!!!!

Engaging to the very end! Amazing story. Amazing science. Amazing narrator. Amazing characters. New Favourite.