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4.3 out of 5 stars389
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 5 September 2014
This is a great, engaging read and appealed especially to my scientific/engineering tastes.

The plot finds 5 ballooning fugitives (and 1 dog) washed up on an uninhabited Pacific island. Thankfully, the 5 castaways basically comprise the ideal desert-island-survival-team. They're all very intelligent and have complimentary skills/knowledge which, when combined with Cyrus' (The Engineer's) seemingly infinite scientific knowledge, allow them to create a very complex, and comfortable, environment for themselves by utilising the island's -suspiciously diverse- range of natural resources.

Verne was writing at a time of enormous public scientific interest and part of his intention with the book was to educate and inform, aswell as entertain (kind of like an early, French BBC). As a result, he takes time to explain the logic behind the science, even going as far as to show mathematical working for how to estimate the height of a mountain using trigonometry. I found this quite interesting but other's may find it slightly tedious. Considering today's reliance on machines\gadgets to perform these tasks, I couldn't help but remember my high-school maths and suddenly, seeing it applied in this practical, exciting manner, caused me to regret not having taken this subject more seriously. As such, this book would make fantastic reading for teenagers with even a fleeting interest in maths or science.

It's certainly not a dry science lecture disguised as a novel though. There is plenty of school boy action and adventure (pirates, boat building) and a subtle, intriguing mystery to the entire island that kept me enthralled to the very end.

As another review mentioned, this is the complete antithesis of Lord of the Flies. Where LOTF explores man's true inner nature, TMI ignores the aspect of social structures or primordial instincts (excepting one cast-away who quite obviously suffers the mental effects of isolation, but the deeper causes of this are not explored here) and focuses just on the practicalities of survival.

Undeniably, it's an optimistic book with the belief that science could provide a solution to anything -capturing perfectly the general Zeitgeist of the time. It's appeal to modern audiences will be more for the nostalgia of a time when the idea of an undiscovered island (in pirate infested waters) was conceivable and bold, brave hero's of the industrial age (like Cyrus) could create fantastical works of scientific engineering.
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on 3 October 2012
I was originally put off by the length of this book, but both the author (Jules Verne) and the price (£0.00) made me give it a read feeling that I would have at least lost nothing if I did not enjoy.

The language, despite being written a long time ago, is very easy to pick up and follow. Nothing too heavy to put a casual reader off (I would not have thrown 5 stars its way if that were the case).

After reading through I can honestly say I feel bad that I had such pleasure for nothing. It is a lengthy read, but the length is justified. Every page makes the story strong and makes the reader's enjoyment all the more full.

The characters are well fleshed out and every one of them is different enough from every other to make the group truly enjoyable to read about. Jules Verne has a talent for making you deeply care about his characters, praise their victories and genuinely feel fearful of turning the page when you know a failure is coming.

I would highly recommend reading 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (another Jules Verne classic) as this does have a tie in to that title that will make far more sense if you are familiar with the aforementioned work and its characters/events.

I don't think this title got the fame it deserved, I only hope people continue to read it in the modern day. For it is a title that truly deserves a wider audience.
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on 4 December 2015
Long and dated. Five heavily stereotyped castaways whose fight for survival is pitted against the readers ability to plough through a long and repetitive book. Why is there a need to explain the difference in the northern and Southern Hemisphere seasons at the mention of a month? 'It was June, that equates to the month of January in the northern hemisphere', 'it was now the beginning of May, the same as the month of December in the northern hemisphere'. I get it Jules I understand. The five characters, a faithful and simple minded sailor, the 'errol Flynn engineer', 'the ridiculously cleaver boy', 'the laconic reporter', 'the negro' free to choose his own way but so greatful for the engineers kindness he enslaves himself. None of the characters developed into any one I felt an affinity with or actually cared about. They all irritated in equal measure. Things didn't improve when Ayrton arrived and the book became overwhelmed with religious penetance. The whole book felt unbalanced 80% of it covered 3 years of mealtimes and the last 20% covered 6 months of pirates, volcanic eruptions, captain nemo and not a moment to soon rescue.
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on 10 September 2012
Although a very good story about survival, the almost super-knowledgable!! Cyrus Harding is too good to be true. Nothing but NOTHING is beyond this man`s ability to create. I almost expected him to build a helicopter from twigs and rocks and fly them all away. If you can ignore the impossibilities of his skills then this is a very good read although the ending could be guessed halfway through.
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on 28 April 2012
Saw the film years ago as a youngster and because I've a Kindle link I thought it would be good to read the book.
I note this etext was originally prepared by Anthony Matonak, updated by David Widger with extensive proofing by Trevor Carlson. However, I've noted passages from other versions of this novel varying slightly in textual content so I do not know how acurate a translation this is. It's also unfortunate that the paragraphing and chapter starts are rather clumsy. If there is one thing this copy needs it's the map that shows the topography of the island. Apart from these points I'm enjoying the read.
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on 4 August 2012
This adventure is like a famous five story for adults! It is 5 if you exclude the dog Top, who are marooned on an island. The dog's abilities, by the way, are a very essential asset to the group. They are lead by an engineer-come-genius Cyrus Harding, a kind of Leonardo Da Vinci (but less well known) sort of character. There is also a sailor, a journalist, a loyal servant and a young scholar. Two more additional complex and interesting characters are later added to the story and also a group of murderous pirates. It is more than a little far-fetched in terms of what the group achieve with the resources they have at their disposal. For example, installing a lift in their cave (I ask you!) when surely the ladder would have been itself an achievement in real life. If you can cope with this tendency then the reading certainly offers enjoyment. I was very pleasantly surprised by how a master author maintains the tension right to the last pages, great stuff!
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on 26 November 2013
At times I struggled with this book and nearly gave up reading it several times. To the modern reader the writing is stilted and shows little, if any, emotion. The scientific explanations of what the engineer was achieving are long winded and too complicated for an ordinary person to understand and quite honestly, unbelievable. Lots of Latin
names for flora and fauna.
However the story is simple. During the American Civil War,prisoners escape in a hot air balloon and crash land on an unknown island in the Pacific. There they set about creating a habitat, cultivating food and making life easier for themselves with the aid of their leader, engineer Cyrus Harding. What he achieves is beyond believable for a castaways.
When in dire need at times, something always mysteriously appears or occurs to come to their aid.
It was worth persevering but I must admit I did jump whole paragraphs at times.
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on 7 January 2013
I enjoyed reading this because it is an adventurous romp about survival on a deserted island, and contains enough suspense and mystery to keep me reading. I found Verne's lengthy descriptions too detailed for my taste as indeed were his detailed scientific accounts of how the survivors were able to manufacture so many goods using the raw materials at hand. It is amazing what these fictitious men are able to do for themselves, and I don't know if the science is accurate, but it is impressive. I found myself skim reading some of the scientific descriptions in order to get on with the action part of the story. I found it a good read and was always keen to get back into it. I especially love the fact that I was able to download and read this classic tale free of charge! I gave it a four instead of a 5 because of the long descriptions which I ended up skim reading.
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on 28 February 2014
I read this while on holiday on the island of Lanzarote, another volcanic island, and also I think where some filming took place for the film of the book. Omar Sharif played Captain Nemo, bought a house on the island, and lost it in a card game! That aside, I enjoyed the book more than I expected. I managed, just about, to keep up with the many scientific details about how the castaways managed to build up a functioning 'colony' from a start of having nothing (with some help from the mysterious protector). It made a riveting tale, and without any female/romantic element! It made me care about the island, and the ending left me rather sad, but satisfied. A real Classic.
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on 17 February 2013
What a fantastic book! As this was my first Jules Verne novel i will be sure to read more of his work!!!!!
I won't go into detail as i'm sure you all know what it is about. It's written very well, i did struggle to understand it at the beginning as it's quite old fashioned but i picked it up. This book left me wanting more and i couldn't put it down. Honestly though i was a little disappointed in the ending [ in a way i wished that they had a way of getting home to bring people back to the island instead of the island being destroyed. Jup shouldn't have died either. I loved finding out who the helper was. Such a surprise!]

Can't wait to read this again 5/5!!
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