• The Mysterious Island

  • By: Jules Verne
  • Narrated by: Berny Clark
  • Length: 19 hrs and 31 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (2,485 ratings)

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The Mysterious Island

By: Jules Verne
Narrated by: Berny Clark
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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
Overall
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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.

61 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!

37 people found this helpful

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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.

21 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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.

15 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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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.

7 people found this helpful

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Can't recommend it

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.

6 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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

My All Time Favorite Book!

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

4 people found this helpful

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My favorite Verne Novel

Would you consider the audio edition of The Mysterious Island to be better than the print version?

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.

Who was your favorite character and why?

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

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.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Five Men Against Nature --but their worst enemy is Man.

Any additional comments?

I love this book so much, I listen to it before bed almost every night.

4 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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    5 out of 5 stars
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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

  • Overall
    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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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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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  • 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.

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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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • crochetdiva
  • 04-11-22

Classically wonderful

It's such a long time since I read this book the first time around, I forgot just how great this story it. I was transported back to my early twenties, and was just as engrossed as I was then. Brilliantly narrated by Benny Clark.

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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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  • Martin
  • 08-17-22

Mostly great

A little long, and a little bit racially insensitive at times, but great ending. performance was great.

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  • Sionnach Cathain
  • 06-01-22

A classic tale read very well

Jules Verne was a master of his era. This is an adventure tale of man verse wilderness. Of good and bad and the grey space between. I say adventure but a word of caution it is slow one. There is a great deal of technical detail with a healthy dose of philosophy as well. Many may struggle to get through the science and possibly find some of the ideas and ideals to be dated. Treat this novel as it deserves, a classic piece of literature from a bygone age that can still speak to us today. I couldn’t imagine a better narrator for this story. Thank you Mr Clark, your delivery was impeccable, and your performance brought the characters to life.

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  • Michelle Mason
  • 02-06-22

Great novel

not something I would usually read. After the first couple of chapters, I wondered if I should proceed. I'm so glad I did. Well narrated and interesting characters. The end was surprising.

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  • Gerowyn
  • 02-03-22

extremely engaging

although this book starts slowly it is extremely engaging and very engrossing I highly recommend this book and am currently on my 2nd play through and will listen to it again.

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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.