The Mysterious Island
is, in a sense, Jules Verne
to his more famous book, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The book begins with a daring POW camp escape by several clever people via Hot Air balloon. From there, they wind up on a deserted island, with approximately no possessions but their wits (a completely original theme). They, over the course of the story, explore the island, naming it Lincoln Island and make it an honorary state; discover their position on the map-surprisingly, it's unknown; build a giant cave-house; find a pet monkey; adopt a monkey; rescue a castaway; defeat pirates; and discover the mysterious Captain Nemo. Oh yeah-they blow up the island, as well.
There is an interesting paradox in the Mysterious Island : the book begins with Yanks escaping a confederate fort during the Civil War. However, in the original book, the ship that the hero sailed on before joining with Nemo on the Nautilus was the Abraham Lincon, and the story began in 1866. Yet, the characters know who Captain Nemo is. Indeed, Nemo is a combination of a cameo and a Deus Ex Machina, hiding from our heroes while saving them with medicine and guns, and then telling them of the fate of the island: it is volcanic, water is eating away at the core, and when the water meets the lava, it will all turn to steam and destroy the island (paging ILM).
If you do read the book (personally, I thought it was OK, but haven't read it for years), you'll notice a good deal of crap, as well as some interesting foresight. One character talks about, once coal is done with, powering manufacturing plants with water, but later talks about the moon being a dead star and the earth cooling down.
Should you read this book? Maybe. Get it at a library, though, and just start it. It's not the best book I've ever read, but it’s not the worst by any means.