Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
A voyage for buried treasure spells trouble for cabin boy Jim Hawkins, who finds himself in the middle of a mutiny with some of the nastiest pirates to ever sail the seven seas.
Review: When I was a young, classics-obsessed bookworm, I read Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I expected it to be creepy. Instead, it was boring. Very, very disappointingly boring.
After that less-than-thrilling reading experience, I was hesitant to try more Stevenson books. Then someone offered me a copy of Treasure Island for free. You can’t pass up free classics, right? I took the book, put it on my shelf for six months, and then finally got around to reading it.
And . . . it was very, very disappointingly boring. Seriously, the most interesting part of the book is the annotations left by the kid who owned my copy before it was given to me. Judging by the kid’s margin-scribbles, she was deeply unimpressed by the story and by the essay questions her teacher assigned. Her pirate doodles are pretty adorable, though.
Anyway, on to the story. The novel is narrated by Jim Hawkins, a teenager who finds a treasure map that once belonged to a pirate who died at his parents’ inn. Jim and a few other people acquire a ship and a crew to take them to Treasure Island. They want to dig up the treasure. Unfortunately for them, their pirate crew mutinies. Chaos and death ensue. It’s up to Jim to save his friends without losing his treasure. Treasure Island was first published as a serial in a YA magazine during the 1880s.
“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!” – Treasure Island
Compared to most classics, the plot of Treasure Island moves very fast. There’s a lot of action and danger. The book is short (about 150 pages), so it’s a fairly quick read.
If the book had been longer, I wouldn’t have finished it. This might be a case of “It’s not you, book, it’s me.” I’ve never had much luck with novels set on boats. Probably because I don’t care about boats and don’t have a huge desire to learn about them. There are so many ship-related words in this story that I often had trouble picturing the action scenes. I just didn’t know what the author was talking about, and constantly putting the book down to Google boat images is distracting. This is totally my fault, not the book’s. If you’re an expert in 1700s-era ships, you might love the setting.
I had a hard time following the pirates’ dialogue. I always got the gist of what they were saying, so I was never confused for very long, but holy crap, pirates ramble on and on. Get to the point already!
“The captain has said too much or he has said too little, and I'm bound to say that I require an explanation of his words.” – Treasure Island
This story was originally written for children, so the plot is simple, but it’s too simple for my liking. It’s obvious that the pirates are going to mutiny. I knew that Jim would save his friends. It’s obvious who has the treasure. I questioned why I was reading the book at all.
Treasure Island wasn’t for me, but I’m glad I read it because it’s part of western culture. This story has influenced many of the modern adventure novels I read and loved as a kid. I’m grateful for that. It’s also helpful to know the origins of “Long John Silver.” It’s more than just a restaurant where you can buy mediocre fish and chips. #TheMoreYouKnow
“It was Silver's voice, and before I had heard a dozen words, I would not have shown myself for all the world. I lay there, trembling and listening, in the extreme of fear and curiosity, for, in those dozen words, I understood that the lives of all the honest men aboard depended on me alone.” – Treasure Island