Book Review: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Posted December 30, 2015 by @Angelized_1st in 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge, Back to the Classics Book Challenge 2015, Books, COYER Going Back to Basics, Entertainment, Reading Challenges / 0 Comments

Book Review: Treasure Island by Robert Louis StevensonTreasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Published by Kingfisher on September 15th 2001
Genres: Fiction, Classics, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
ISBN: 9780753453803
Buy on: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks

The most popular pirate story ever written in English, featuring one of literature’s most beloved “bad guys,” Treasure Island has been happily devoured by several generations of boys—and girls—and grownups. Its unforgettable characters include: young Jim Hawkins, who finds himself owner of a map to Treasure Island, where the fabled pirate booty is buried; honest Captain Smollett, heroic Dr. Livesey, and the good-hearted but obtuse Squire Trelawney, who help Jim on his quest for the treasure; the frightening Blind Pew, double-dealing Israel Hands, and seemingly mad Ben Gunn, buccaneers of varying shades of menace; and, of course, garrulous, affable, ambiguous Long John Silver, who is one moment a friendly, laughing, one-legged sea-cook . . .and the next a dangerous pirate leader!

The unexpected and complex relationship that develops between Silver and Jim helps transform what seems at first to be a simple, rip-roaring adventure story into a deeply moving study of a boy’s growth into manhood, as he learns hard lessons about friendship, loyalty, courage and honor—and the uncertain meaning of good and evil.

“Fifteen men on the Dead Man’s Chest Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! Drink and the devil had done for the rest Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”

I’ve been wanting to read Robert Louis Stevenson’s Classic, Treasure Island, for years, but kept putting it off. Partly because I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to the hype. However, being a fan of Starz’ series Black Sails, I was curious about the characters and what happens to them later on. Having watched a couple of seasons of the popular cable show, I was familiar with the characters, and can see how they got from where I’ve seen them to how they’re depicted in the novel.

I enjoyed Long John Silver, but didn’t particularly care for the other characters. Not that they were badly written, but the writing style took a while for me to get into. Not only that, but I wasn’t really invested in any of the characters, and never cared who survived. While a colorful character, Silver isn’t the main character. The main character of the story is a young by named Jim Hawkins, who winds up sailing away from home in search of treasure. If you are looking for an action adventure story, this definitely fits the bill, though I thought the story dragged a bit in places.

“For thirty years,” he said, “I’ve sailed the seas and seen good and bad, better and worse, fair weather and foul, provisions running out, knives going, and what not. Well, now I tell you, I never seen good come o’ goodness yet. Him as strikes first is my fancy; dead men don’t bite; them’s my views—amen, so be it.”

Overall, I enjoyed Treasure Island, but not enough to claim to love it. It was a nice pirate adventure full of interesting, shady characters, but never really sucked me into the story. Stevenson’s writing was good, but I felt that the conclusion was a bit too neat for my taste. While descriptive, I never got invested in the world these characters inhabit. However, I can see why Treasure Island is considered a classic, and would recommend it to readers interested in reading classic literature.

About Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis (Balfour) Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, and travel writer, and a leading representative of English literature. He was greatly admired by many authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling and Vladimir Nabokov.

Most modernist writers dismissed him, however, because he was popular and did not write within their narrow definition of literature. It is only recently that critics have begun to look beyond Stevenson’s popularity and allow him a place in the Western canon.

On December 3rd, 1894, he died of an apparent cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 44.


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