Book Review: The Mysterious Island

Awhile ago, Johnny, one of the Element youth guys asked me during our Bibliopolis time if I had a copy of The Mysterious Island. I had never heard of the book (gasp!), and when I asked him where he heard about it, he told me his small group leader Denny (class of 2013 from Gracepoint Berkeley church) told him that he had to read it. Always on the hunt for new voices to feature on the blog, I shamelessly asked him to write a review. And he did!


mysterious_island-coverIn 8th grade, I read a book called The Mysterious Island, by Jules Verne. I wanted to read it because I had also read Around the World in 80 days, Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by that same author and thought it was good stuff. I actually don’t remember too much of the content now, but the book did have a partial influence on my college major and career path.
The book is set during the American Civil War and has five dudes and a dog from the Union army who escaped, as war prisoners, if I recall correctly, in a hot air balloon. They land on the eponymous island and now they have to find a way to get back to society somehow.
The main character is the balleringest civil engineer and through his ingenuity, he’s able to find systematic ways to find and cook food, create nitroglycerin to blow up granite and use it to create space in a granite cliff behind a waterfall so that they can have a fortress to protect themselves from wild animals. He somehow makes a telegraph on this deserted island and is able to determine where they landed as well. On the island, they also encounter an orangutan which they adopt as their pet. And all the while, of course, mysterious things keep happening on the island, where the stranded characters suspect there is someone else on the island.

So, in a nutshell, in just one book, you get a cool civil engineer, a pet monkey and five guys trying to survive on a deserted island in their manly, engineered waterfall-guarded granite fortress. Too good. So come college applications, what does a 17-year-old who did OK in math and physics and knows nothing about what engineering really is about end up doing? Apply for civil engineering programs and aspire to be just as ballering. BOOM. Books change lives, folks. Read on!


I don’t know about you, but that was pretty much the balleringest book review and plug for reading I’ve read this year! 🙂

Have you read The Mysterious Island? Or any other Jules Verne book? I confess I haven’t, but this review bumped The Mysterious Island up my To-Be-Read List.

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