29 December 2010

Starting with a disastrous balloon escape from the American civil war, a plucky group of travellers get stranded on an Island. Through pure ingenuity and sheer determination, they make themselves nearly every luxury and item they could want. Starting from the bare rocks, they have a hydraulic elevator, copper cabled telegraphs, running water, glass windows and explosives. They also eat their way through a whole menagerie of game, being sure to name and classify each one as they go.

All of this, and there is additional excitement from Pirates, Volcanoes and even an appearance from one of Jules Verne’s other most Brilliant and fantastical characters.

The book was in places a page turner, and I could feel my excitement rising like a little boy on Christmas day as the Islanders accomplished greater yet feats.

Of course - while I will talk at length, there are some parts of the book I will leave to the reader to find - no spoilers!

Get it for free!

The Kindle edition of this book is currently FREE! I read this on my kindle, which makes for quite a pleasant read and has led me into reading the complete works of Jules Verne on my Kindle. Since you can download the kindle app on most tablets and smart phones - this is a free read.

Characters On The Island

The main characters, aka the Islanders in Mysterious Island are given time to mature and some depth. Other characters are more incidental, and as such are given little time.

That said, bar the later arrival to the Island, the characters are not given much emotional treatment, and much of the dialogue is simply about solving one problem for the next. I don’t think it made them unbelievable, although Cyrus Smith had at times stretched this by knowing a few too many feats.

It also must be said that the intention of this book is clearly the high adventure and fun on the Island, and not an intense drama, so they are not perhaps given the intensity of characters in Wuthering Heights.

Was The Mysterious Island one of my favourites?

I think this is one of Jules Vernes best works, in my opinion better than 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It has less lengthy descriptions of fish for a start, and more cool inventions taking you through how they could be made from basics.

The best line ever

“Their iron and steel was still in the ore, their pottery was in the clay, their linen and clothes were still to be provided.”

More Brilliant books by Jules Verne

Jules Verne writes mostly about adventures on the high seas with mysteries and discoveries to unravel, or Science Fiction which is still very compelling to read so many years on. I’ve been reading the complete works of his on my Kindle.

Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea

Ok this book focuses a bit too much on the fish, and IMHO, not enough on the Nautilus. But it does chart an awesome submarine journey, and is definitely a great sci fi work.

Around the World in 80 Days

This adventure is good fun, finding out how for a bet, a relatively wealthy man makes his way around the world, suffering pitfalls, occasionally having to make things up, all the while being pursued by the law.

How about getting handy yourself?

What made The Mysterious Island so amazing to me was the ingenuity of Cyrus Smith. How could you learn tricks like his? Here are some suggestions!

Build, and make - learn and explore. Stuff like Make magazine, Instructables and even simply workshop classes or chemistry are ways to learn how to make stuff like Cyrus. After reading this, you will also view Tom Hanks “Castaway”character as a bit of a looser…

Mysterious Island - Tv Dramatization

Featuring Patrick Stuart

This rendering is actually quite poor, despite having some great acting. First - b-movie style monsters, from a 2006 film - awful.

Then there is the story. They’ve used the character names, and brought in some of the basic concepts - Captain Nemo, Cyrus Smith, pirates, Island Giants and a volcanic eruption. But they’ve left out the intrigue, the people surviving the elements and innovating and turned this into a basic action romp on an Island.

Frankly - if you’ve read the book - don’t watch this expecting a similar rendition. If you’ve not, you’d probably turn off the program within the first half hour as it just doesn’t do enough to be worth watching through.