The Mysterious Island, by Jules Verne
This is about six Northerns prisoners that flee Richmond during the American Civil War. Their escape is done by balloon and brings them to an inhabited island lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
The book tells the tale of how these men survive. But this book has a strong thrilling appeal as some events occur. During more than 700 pages, the heroes – and the reader as well – want to know who is the mysterious benefactor that saves lives throughout the entire story.
The mysterious Island is the final part of a ” trilogy ” begun by the books Les Enfants du Capitaine Grant (English title : In Search of the Castaways) and 20,000 leagues under the sea
All books can be read as stories by themselves, but I strongly recommended you to read all the books in the correct order to have an improved reading experience of the Mysterious Island.
Indeed, we find back in this book some characters that appeared in the two previous masterpieces of Jules Verne. The two stories are also masterpieces and are great to read and read again.
Concerning the story itself, here is a short introduction. Upon the landing on the shore of the island, one hero is missing. The way he will be found, and the way he was saved from death is odd and can’t really be explained. This is the first event that will happen.
Others weird events will follow, and each time in favour of the heroes. Some force is acting in critical moments to save people or to improve the living of the six colons.
This makes the book look a bit like a thriller as the heroes want to know who is their saviour.
Meanwhile, these men are acting in such a way that they transform an island in a kind of paradise. This is done by a lot of hard work and the ingeniousness of their leader, the ingenious engineer Cyrus Smith.
When all set foot on what will become Lincoln Island, they lack absolutely everything. No fire, no tool, no weapon. But by tremendous amounts of work, ingeniousness and yes, a lot of luck, they will succeed in living in a somewhat comfortable way. So if you plan to go to an island without anything, please, read this book before.
The transformation of the island is important and all resources available are used. This shows the way of thinking in the XIXth century. Earth is good and can satisfy to all Mankind’s needs in a ample way.
To get back on the book, it can be said it is an adventure book as the characters are entangled in situations that are thrilling and there are very few pause in the course of events.
Jules Verne was writing books for children ( the main readers at that time for his books ) and wanted to teach many subjects such as biology, geology and geography. This is very well done as all along the book, the reader learns about animals, plants, rocks and many other things. For the curious and the thirsty for knowledge, this is a major plus for Verne’s books.
Moreover, the Nantes born writer was presenting state of the art materials and tools. Electricity is thus talked about in his book 20,000 leagues under the sea, as it had been discovered only a few years before.
Nitroglycerin is widely explained and readers learn how to produce this powerful explosive as it as been created only a few years before. His anticipation on various subjects like this one or the flight to the moon make that I truly enjoyed and keep on enjoying nowadays this writer.
To get back on the story that interest us today, Cyrus Smith, the main character, is so ingenious that he foresaw the fuel cell that’s operate via oxygen and hydrogen. Indeed, when asked what would be the main energy source in the future, he describes quite well this to-be invention and it is operating. Just amazing !
Of course, other things have been better studied since and some of Verne’s ideas proved to turn out wrong. But anyhow, he is one of the most renowned writer in anticipation and science-fiction. (albeit I rather see him in the anticipation style than pure science-fiction)
The end is just action-packed and the hidden force will be explained and talked about. The surprise when reading the explanations of all the events is excitingly great…
To conclude, I give a 18 out of 20 to this marvellous book and strongly recommend its reading to the curious mind or to somebody who wants to be thrilled in an original way.
Once again, be sure you read the two books above mentioned to get the full experience and enjoy even more the experience.
On a personal note, I went last year to the Jules Verne Museum, in Nantes, France, where the author was born and spent a large part of his life. The image in the introduction is a photo I took during my visit to this museum and represents the author.
I am waiting forward to read your comments on this book.
Related stuff :
The website of the Musée Jules Verne in Nantes, France.