Treasure Island (The Whole Story)

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Paperback, 1996

Status

Available

Local notes

Fic Ste (c.2 Annotated)

Barcode

572

Publication

Viking Juvenile (1996), Edition: New edition, 296 pages. $18.99.

Original language

English

Original publication date

1883

Physical description

296 p.; 6.96 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member ncgraham
When I was a child I would often peruse a little pamphlet my parents owned. It was titled Hand that Rocks the Cradle and featured “a select list of books to read to children.” Most of the commentary about the selections was straightforward and a little bit dull, but I’ve never forgotten what
Show More
Mr. Bluedom had to say about Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

WARNING: If you read this book you may not be able to enjoy any other book again because you will subconsciously compare it to the perfection of this book and always find it lacking.

NOTE 1: If you read this book and find it does not captivate you, then there’s no hope for you, and you may look upon yourself as a truly sorry case.

NOTE 2: If you look up the word “adventure” you will find listed in the dictionary as its definition “circumstances that follow the plot of Treasure Island.”


As it turns out, I have read and enjoyed many books since my dad first read Treasure Island aloud to me many years ago, but nevertheless there is some truth to what Bluedom wrote. Certainly Treasure Island is the essential pirate story, and was instrumental in creating the modern mythos of the backstabbing buccaneer. But I would give it a higher accolade than that, and say that it is one of those great books that attains perfection within the bounds of its genre and, in doing so, transcends the genre. Thus, though it is often referred to as a “boy’s adventure story,” it can be enjoyed at all ages. Not all of my childhood favorites have held up as I’ve grown older, but this has.

One of the reasons is Stevenson’s writing. It’s perfect. As G. K. Chesterton once wrote, “he seemed to pick the right word up on the point of his pen … there was a kind of swordsmanship about it.” While his prose may have been richer in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the man always had an unfailing sense of atmosphere, and here every paragraph seems to be steeped in sea salt. I find the haunting introduction of “Captain” Billy Bones particularly well done:

I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn door, his sea-chest following behind him in a hand-barrow; a tall, strong, heavy nut-brown man; his tarry pigtail falling over the shoulders of his soiled blue coat; his hands ragged and scarred, with black, broken nails; and the sabre cut across one cheek, a dirty, livid white.

And then there is Long John Silver, one of those larger-than-life figures who has long since assumed a life beyond what his author intended for him. We tend to think of Silver now as being menacing from the very start of the story (due, no doubt, to actors such as Orson Welles and Tim Curry playing the role on screen), but he is first introduced to us as a lovable old cook with impeccable manners … and he retains those impeccable manners right up until the end of the book, with only occasional glimpses of his true ruthlessness. The conversations between him and Jim Hawkins (our narrator/hero, an honest and likeable lad) are masterpieces of manipulative wordplay.

My favorite part of the book, however, has to be the “Israel Hands” chapter. The situation is very complicated, and the tension incredible. Here are two characters who must work together to safely navigate a ship. At the same time, Jim knows that the wounded Israel is armed and plotting to kill him. And as they work, they talk about ghosts, morality, and the afterlife.

”Well,” said I, “I’ll cut you some tobacco; but if I was you and thought myself so badly, I would go to my prayers, like a Christian man.”

“Why?” said he. “Now, you tell me why.”

“Why?” I cried. “You were asking me just now about the dead. You’ve broken your trust; you’ve lived in sin and lies and blood; there’s a man you killed lying at your feet this moment; and you ask me why! For God's mercy, Mr. Hands, that’s why.”


My only complaint with the book is that the ending is rushed and less exciting than I remember. But that is a minor flaw. I could go on and on about Treasure Island, but I’ll spare you. If you wish to know more, you must read it yourself.
Show Less
LibraryThing member thequestingvole
Treasure Island

Treasure Island is a great book and like many great books, grew out of a small act. Stevenson's step-son was drawing one day and his step-father looking over his shoulder, saw that he was drawing a map. They spent the day naming the places and colouring it. And from the map came the
Show More
book.

It is a simple story told by a boy on the cusp of manhood and therein lies its power. Jim Hawkins is a boy telling a story to other boys and his nature is reflected in the telling. There is no navel gazing or reflection in him, he doesn't agonize over killing or worry about the morality of taking buried treasure. Unlike his contemporaries in Victorian fiction, whose scruples often verge on the priggish, Jim's moral compass is personal, his loyalty to his mother and to his friends. His is a conscience rooted in the eighteenth century, his goals are clear and their simplicity and single mindedness drive the story forward.

But even in this celebration of the 18th century love affair with
laissez faire capitalism, Stephenson finds a place for evil. It is a grinning, grubby, chatty evil, far removed from the starkly painted moral monsters of children's fiction. Long John Silver is a murderer, a pirate and a scoundrel, but he is also charming, capable and a leader of men. Jim enjoys his company despite himself. Though Jim hates Silver for his cruelty, he admires him for his daring as all boys admire those who defy parental or scholastic authority with panache. In some ways there is little to choose between Long John and
Jim, both pursue the treasure, Long John is simply willing to use brutal means to obtain it.

The Jim we meet at the beginning of the novel is a boy, bound to his mother and weighed down by childish things. By the end, he has encountered dangers, both moral and physical, and survived. He has mastered new skills and entered man's estate. For the rest of us, reading Treasure Island could be considered a vital part of that passage.
Show Less
LibraryThing member bookworm12
This is the essential pirate story. Long before it became a popular topic, this story brought us swashbuckling at its best. Jim is a young English boy grieving the death of his father. When a mysterious treasure map is found, Jim finds himself traveling to Treasure Island aboard the Hispaniola. At
Show More
the beginning of the story he is an innocent child, but circumstances on the ship force him to grow up quickly. A band of greedy pirates pit themselves against the British officers and soon they must battle it out on the island.

Treasure Island is an epic adventure story and I think it would be perfect for young boys. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think I’m really the target audience. I did love some of the characters, like the marooned Ben Gunn, who has been craving cheese for years. Stevenson created a wonderfully likable villain in Long John Silver. You know he’s the bad guy, but he’s so charismatic that you can’t help hoping he might just get away with it.

I’ve read Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and I think he explores the psychology of evil in both books. Obviously Dr. Jekyll dives into a more in-depth look at the duality of human nature, but Treasure Island gives us a small taste of it as well and those elements provide my favorite parts of the book.
Show Less
LibraryThing member elbakerone
(Quick disclaimer: I wrote this review for my blog for Talk Like a Pirate Day. Please forgive my grammar and salty dialect as I only take one out of 365 days to actually talk like a pirate!)

Treasure Island be the title of this tome and the writer be Cap'n Robert Louis Stevenson! In this adventure
Show More
set on the high seas, the reader be interduced to the young lad Jim Hawkins, who finds himself in possession of the map to an island filled with buried treasure. Young Jim be recruited as a cabin boy and joins a crew of seasoned sailors lookin' to seek out the loot, and amid these salty dogs is the one legged cook - known by the fearsome name of Long John Silver. Yarr! It be no surprise that Jim overhears Long John Silver plannin' a mutiny but the young lad must take it upon himself to thwart the plans of the filthy pirate, keepin' the treasure and the honest crew members safe.

Cap'n Stevenson does a fine job with this swarthy tale of swashbuckling adventure. Older readers as well as the wee little ones will find this story to be a great way to be passin' the time while out at sea. From the parrot that skwaks out "Pieces o' eight" to the singin' of the pirate song "yo ho ho and a bottle o' rum", this story be havin' all a buccaneer could want and rightfully earns its place as a classic.
Show Less
LibraryThing member reading_fox
The Classic boys adventure story, probably not the first, written in 1893, but one of the best. Women are scarcely mentioned. The imfamous Long John Silver's wife gets a passing line. Protagonist Jim Hawkin's mother features briefly in the opening chapters, refusing to take more than her due, and
Show More
then fainting under a bridge.

The story must surely be known to everyone - and who has not dreamed of finding themselves in such a situatio - Jim Hawkins discovers in the chest of a dead pirate, a map marked with three Xs where the treasure of old Captain Flint has been buried. The local squire and doctor - and it is for such insights into 1890s life that this tale has most appeal for older readers - fit out a ship and go to claim the bounty. Amoungst the crew is peg legged Lohn John Silver, cook, and it transpires, ex-quatermaster of old Flint himself. The crew mutineys at sight of the island, and only through the foolhardy, but ultimately lucky 11yr old Jim Hawkins's actions is the day finally saved.

In many ways an improbable story, but allowing for the ability of 11yr olds to achieve any task, it is a well crafted tale, and certainly an enjoyable read although the ending is never in any doubt. The World's Classics edition I have provides commentary on the differences between the first seralised version and the later book form, as well as insights into the genuine history surrounding many of the names. Much of the colloquial lingo remains obscure terms such as "duff" never being explained. This does not detract from the delight - one for all children, including those who have never grown up.
Show Less
LibraryThing member CBJames
Adventure can rely on character. Robert Lewis Stevenson demonstrates this in his classic novel Treasure Island. There's plenty of adventure in Treasure Island: mysterious strangers arrive on stormy nights; innocent people survive savage attacks; abandoned ships drift out to sea; pirates climb the
Show More
walls of forts under the cover of darkness to attack sleeping innocents; castaways, marooned for years, are rescued; fortunes are found and lost again.

But what the reader walks away from Treasure Island remembering is the books characters. Long John Silver is the best known, but there are plenty of others, pirates and non-pirates alike. It's these characters that have kept readers coming back to Treasure Island generation after generation. They continue to frighten, to intrigue and to entertain.

Illustration by N.C. Wyeth
In fact, most of what we know about pirates, we learned from Treasure Island. Pirates have wooden legs and wear eye patches. They walk with a crutch, but in a pinch, they can transform their crutch into a deadly spear. They keep parrots as pets and teach them to say "pieces of eight." When they get together, they can't help but sing "Sixteen men on a dead man's chest/ Yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum!" They are charmers, but they cannot be trusted. They terrify us, but we can't help but want to be like them. And we're always a little bit relieved when they get away in the end.

Illustration by N.C. Wyeth
The menace and magic of Robert Lewis Stevenson's pirates are both captured by N.C. Wyeth's illustrations. The elder Wyeth has been admired by illustrators for generations, and many consider his artwork for Treasure Island to be his best. I don't know enough about the art of illustration to effectively judge N.C. Wyeth, but C.J. and I have developed a few standards in almost 15 years of shared museum going. One is do we believe the figures in the painting existed before the moment of the artwork and will they continue to exist afterwards. I think Wyeth's do. His illustrations capture parts of a larger moment.

N.C. Wyeth is also a master of composition. Notice this group of three pirates climbing the walls of the fort. The viewer sees the two on the wall right away, but did you notice the third one who has already entered the fort's shadow? And look at the angle of the mast and the yard arm in the illustration above. There is no steady, level place for Jim to hide in as he climbs the ship's rigging to escape the pirate. Everything is sharp angles and dangerous slanted beams. The only solid right angle in the picture is the horizon off in the distance. Beyond that horizon, the safety of home.

I can see why N.C. Wyeth is considered one of the best. His illustrations create characters with lives outside the paintings just as a good author creates characters with lives outside the book they inhabit. Wyeth and Stevenson are wonderful together.
Show Less
LibraryThing member SkjaldOfBorea
This vastly influential pirate novel, first published 1881 (but with its story set in the middle 1700s) is of course superb, warmly recommended for everyone.

But first a warning on what *not* to expect from its pirates. With all the pop-glamour surrounding buccaneering today, it's a surprise to see
Show More
how the pirates in Treasure Island are depicted. Dangerous & bloodthirsty, but also seemingly rotten & somewhat incapable, with the only benefit of the doubt befalling Long John Silver.

There may be undertones & hidden messages, but at face value most of the demonstrated competence is on the side of the British Empire, with her apparently disciplined sailors, stern captains, effective gentry, & fearless magistrates. Not to mention the Union Jack flag, furiously pitted against the skull & crossbones Jolly Roger.

Modern pirate stories, in which imperial Britain may come out less favourably, have many fans. But the more old-fashioned point of view in Treasure Island is precisely what makes it interesting to modern readers. It highlights the multiple myths surrounding this pioneering age of global navigation.

Also, to grasp the mystique of the treasure, it helps to understand how outlandish it is. The treasure buried on the island is estimated at £700,000. This sum was at the time of the story vast almost beyond comprehension. A booty share of £100,000 placed at, say, 5% interest, would yield the annual income of £5,000, enough to compete with the (extremely select) truly wealthy gentry, even with parts of the aristocracy. In Jane Austen's regency novel Emma, the heroine's father has a fortune of £30,000, repeatedly pegging him as "rich", certainly the richest man in the area. Yet his income is merely £1,500 a year.

Even £1,000 a year (an elite threshold already) gave you resources for a good house & a private carriage - with all the needed servants. This is exactly the sort of respectability that many of the book's pirates & misfits articulate so loudly. Repeatedly, almost hypnotically, they utter their ultimate fantasy: owning a carriage.

This isn't mere greed. It's the longing for an existence redeemed.
Show Less
LibraryThing member ben_a
A classic. Pirates are bad people.

Let me add to that. Glamorous evil is a problem in fiction. I say 'a problem' not because positive representation of wicked characters has bad effects (although doubtless it does), but because it is so false to fact as to be jarring, to break fictional tone. There
Show More
are exceptions to this rule. Satan is glamorous, but he's an angel -- and as the first or second most powerful created being, of course he's going to have some pace on the ball. But in general, wickedness is not glamorous, or inventive, or interesting. It's a person who will kill a stranger for money, and then spend the money on trash -- as squalid, loathsome, and weak as a humanity gets. That's the type of person who becomes a pirate, in point of fact; that's who a pirate is. Simone Weil has a great quote to this effect: “Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.” Stevenson invests his pirates with real evil, in Weil's sense, and it's the critical tone-setting choice in the novel.

...my name is Alexander Smollett, I've flown my sovereign's colours, and I'll see you all to Davy Jones. You can't find the treasure. You can't sail the ship—there's not a man among you fit to sail the ship. You can't fight us—Gray, there, got away from five of you. Your ship's in irons, Master Silver; you're on a lee shore, and so you'll find. I stand here and tell you so; and they're the last good words you'll get from me, for in the name of heaven, I'll put a bullet in your back when next I meet you
Show Less
LibraryThing member RickyHaas
The first time I read this book was in fourth grade and I loved it even then. Its definitely one of my favorite classic books and my all time favorite pirate story. Jim Hawkins, the protagonist and main narrator is a thirteen year old boy who many young boys can easily relate to. The characters are
Show More
vibrant and unique, including Long John Silver, one of the most incredible villains ever created. The story also flows nicely with a only a brief interruption of Jim's narrative in which another character narrates for a couple chapters. However the transition is smooth and doesn't cause confusion. All this together makes this one of my favorites books and I would definitely recommend it to readers of all ages.

And I can't say enough about the Word Cloud Classic edition of the book. Imprinted to the front and back of the book are characters' names and quotes from the book and it just looks awesome. Also the movie Treasure Planet based on this book is a really interesting Science Fiction adaption of the story.
Show Less
LibraryThing member scratchdesigns
When I finished reading this book, I slapped it down on the table and exclaimed out loud "That was a rollicking good yarn!!" I don't even know what "rollicking" means, but that's the effect it had on me.
LibraryThing member bell7
Young Jim Hawkins finds adventure when a "gentleman of fortune" stays at his father's inn, and the old pirate's compatriots come looking for him -- and a treasure map!

Treasure Island is the quintessential adventure tale: a daring hero, a treasure, and dastardly pirates. I had a few false starts
Show More
trying to read it as a kid, but I drowned in the antiquated language due to a book that's a hundred years old set in the 1700s. But when I was without power for several days, it was the perfect book to take me far and away from my circumstances. Partly because I knew much of the storyline (mostly, I am embarrassed to admit, through watching Muppet Treasure Island as a kid), partly because Jim is clearly narrating events that happened before, there was never any doubt that our English heroes would make it through unscathed, but this true blue adventure tale is certainly entertaining.
Show Less
LibraryThing member internisus
I endeavored to read Treasure Island as an entry point into a chronological approach to adventure stories, golden-age science fiction, and later speculative ventures. It seems to me that this classic novel has done well to satisfy in that role, and I will also add that the Oxford World's Classics
Show More
introduction, explanatory notes, and other supplements were useful, if unessential.

That said, I am afraid there is little to recommend Treasure Island to the modern reader. The story itself has been surpassed many times over, and the archaic maritime language is a double-edged sword of charm and impediment; the writing is fun and quotable for the same reasons that often render it a right chore to comprehend. If one's sole purpose in selecting Stevenson's tale of the stalwart Hispaniola crew's quest for buried booty amid the treachery of Long John Silver upon Skeleton Island is merely to be entertained by a hardy lads' romp, it must be said that many superior (and less frustrating) options have become available since it was published in 1883. You and I are simply too removed from this work by time to enjoy it properly.

However, I am ultimately glad that I read Treasure Island. Its historical value is clear both as a genre pioneer and as the origin for so many well-known pirate tropes, and, although it can be difficult in the telling, to be sure, the tale is not an unpleasant one.
Show Less
LibraryThing member elenchus
Had not realised it was written for a younger audience, such an iconic tale has grown larger than the straightforward adventure tale it surely is. Nice mood and sense of place, time -- and Long John Silver is not the caricature he's become. Quite a bit of nautical terminology, better than I could
Show More
write and beyond my ability to critique.

The letter from Squire Trelawney to Jim Hawkins is a marvel: its immediately clear what is really happening, even as it's clear the Squire has no idea himself. Much more clever than an aside from an omniscient narrator, for example.

//

Read aloud 2011 through Chapter XVII, worth finishing on my own.
Show Less
LibraryThing member she_climber
What a fun book. I had know idea this is the story that Long John Silver came from. This is why I need to go back an do the Classics and now I'm in the right frame of mind and ready for the new Pirates Carribean movie.
LibraryThing member kaulsu
I read this aloud to my son twenty years ago--and could remember none if it! I did enjoy this re-read: it is apparent why young boys would thrill to the possibilities. In actuality, it has a more probable story line than many YA books for boys written today. In that sense, timeless.
LibraryThing member DinadansFriend
This is an adult novel, but due to having a child as a POV character, it has become a children's book. But it does remain a great adventure story with wonderful characters and a well crafted plot. Oh, a group of ill-assorted people struggle over the disposition of a hoard of pirate treasure.
LibraryThing member michaelbartley
I found this to be a more complex book then I thought it would be. while it is on its surface a coming of age and adventure story there is much more then that. the character long john silver is very complex. I am glad I read it
LibraryThing member MeditationesMartini
Well, clearly it"s rollicking, and this time around I both really enjoyed Treasure Island (mini-barrage of sea books since I"ve been in landlocked Austria) and got a bit of clarity on whey I never enjoyed it quite as much as I wanted or expected to (I did love it, but never quite quite enough for
Show More
my dad, who read it to me when he was crazy busy with the paper and basically saw it as the end- and be-all of boy"s own adventure stories, bar none. Come to think of it that probably does a lot to inform the way he feelz out in the boat nowdays). It"s the beginning! Stevenson seemed to be worried the kids wouldn"t relate, to judge by the intro to this edition, and so he set it out for them REALLY painstakingly - "Here"s a PLAUSIBLE way a kid JUST LIKE YOU could actually have a real pirate adventure. Watch as I lead you through the steps from your workaday farm life." Annoying! And of course, these days, unnecessary - generations raised on astronaut dreams have no trouble expanding their horizons to imagine going to see. Other than that, wonderful, wonderful, and I found Silver a lot more ambiguous and compelling and Ben Gunn a little more cheesy than I did when I was seven.
Show Less
LibraryThing member pitjrw
My grandmother bought me the NC Wyeth edition when I was a youngster. I re-read it everytime I got ill as a kid.and reveled in the story and pictures. I still have it and still love the book. One of the most memorable lines I encountered as a young reader comes after they discover Ben Gunn and
Show More
someone asks him what he missed most while marooned. He thinks for a bit then replies, "Cheese.... melted mostly."
Show Less
LibraryThing member jasonlf
Re-reading this was an absolute pleasure from the first sentence to the last. Or to be precise, listening the audiobook with outstanding narration by Alfred Molina.

Long John Silver is one of the extraordinary characters of literature, at times he almost feels on par with the creations of
Show More
Shakespeare and Dickens. His extraordinary physical and psychological aptitude, his ambiguous amorality, and the way in which he controls from a position of servitude. The narrator, Jim Hawkins, and his group are more cookie cutter cardboard romantic heroes, but still interesting and compelling. And many of the characters with walk on parts, like Billy Bones and the blind pirate Pew, are fascinating.

The plot moves along briskly, although the terrors are considerably greater in the first quarter--before the mutineers declare themselves--and toward the end when Jim ends up back with the pirates. In between is a decent amount of fighting and straight up adventure, which is well told and interesting but hardly something that on its own would stand the test of time.

Occasionally all of the pirate talk feels a little oppressive and cliched, but then you remind yourself that this is the novel that invented all of it. But mostly the language lends a strong scent of salty reality to this classic boys adventure novel.
Show Less
LibraryThing member karenmerguerian
I had heard it was one of the world's great adventures, but I always thought it would be a "little boys book." It turned out to be highly nuanced and can probably be enjoyed by all ages and genders because it works on many levels. The adventure itself is a great hook, and you don't want to stop
Show More
reading at the end of each chapter, but it turns out that it's all really about loyalty and what that means, and about how to survive a journey with pirates and still keep one's honor. Long John Silver is one of the great complex villains/foils I've encountered in fiction, not a caricature like the brilliantly colorful villains in Dickens, and not so one-dimensional as the sadistic evildoers of other contemporary children's authors like Brian Jacques and Jerry Spinelli. He's as charming and compelling to the reader as he is to the hero-narrator. The illustrations in this edition are good, too.
Show Less
LibraryThing member corinneblackmer
A beautifully rendered and surprisingly complex and morally ambivalent adventure tale about magical (if horrid) places like Treasure Island. A great rendering of fantasy and so convincing about the heroic role that a young man can play that one might forgive the bosh about "God save the Queen,"
Show More
English patriotism, and true men.
Show Less
LibraryThing member StephLaymon
Treasure Island was so much more my thing than I thought that it would be. There was a lot of drama, action, and suspense.
It's an odd thing to read classics that were intended for a younger reading audience. I would let my children read them, but I can easily see where some parents would give
Show More
pause. Some of the content in these books is controversial today...But hey! They are among the best ever written.
Show Less
LibraryThing member edgeworth
I read Kidnapped in 2010 and quite liked it, so I figured I’d give Treasure Island a go. Now I’m reflecting on whether perhaps Kidnapped was a book I enjoyed because it provided me with entertainment at a time when I didn’t have much else to do.

Treasure Island is the classic pirate story, a
Show More
book that spawned thousands of imitators and almost single-handedly created a genre. Young Jim Hawkins, the poor son of innkeepers, is swept up into excitement and adventure after one of his lodgers entrusts him with a treasure map before dying. Jim promptly takes the map to Dr. Livesey, local magistrate and gentleman, and together they assemble an expedition to recover the treasure from the titular Caribbean Island. All doesn’t go to plan, of course, with the crew turning out to be half pirates, and upon arrival on Treasure Island all manner of mutinous hijinks break out in the scramble to seize the treasure.

Treasure Island is a pirate story with 19th century mores, where the good guys are upstanding English gentlemen and the pirates are villainous scoundrels – unlike modern incarnations, where Johnny Depp is cast as a dashing and romantic figure of fun, the script neatly sidestepping the fact that pirates are bad people who do bad things. (I dearly love Mister Gibbs, but I expect he’s raped his fair share.) Treasure Island contains a good amount of betrayal, cold-blooded murder and terrible fates, and to his credit, Stevenson does not shy away from the fact that this is the sort of thing that can utterly ruin a boy’s fantasised adventure:

Although the sun shone bright and hot, and the shore birds were fishing and crying all around us, and you would have thought anyone would be glad to get to land after so long at sea, my heart sank, as the saying is, into my boots, and from that first look onward I hated the very thought of Treasure Island.

And although the book has what you’d technically call a happy ending, it finishes on a dark note, with Jim still haunted by what happened on the island.

These good points aside, I can’t recommend Treasure Island, largely because I had trouble maintaining an interest in it. It starts out and finishes well enough, yet drags in the centre, as Jim’s crew hold out a stockade against the pirates. There’s far too much technical detail, a wholly unnecessary switch to Dr. Livesey as narrator, and it’s all just poorly paced. As the book goes on, far too much time is spent debating the loyalties and power struggles of the various crews, and the men within the crews, with overly-wrought dialogue. I also felt that Stevenson was treating the plot like a chess game, moving pieces here and there, and having certain characters do things which made no sense simply because it was necessary for the plot (Jim sneaking off and recovering the ship against all odds is the prime offender here.) Kidnapped, in comparison, contained a number of unexpected twists and turns which never felt out of place or contrived.

Not a bad book, but not a good one either – certainly a disappointment compared to its reputation, and not as good as Stevenson’s less-famous Kidnapped.
Show Less
LibraryThing member whitreidtan
My book club likes to choose at least one classic every year. This past year we had trouble settling on one that too many people hadn't already read or that were too long for the reading time frame so I suggested Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, a book I hadn't read since I was a child but
Show More
one that I knew I'd be happy to revisit. After all, who doesn't like swashbuckling?

As a classic, the plot is probably familiar to most people but broadly drawn, young Jim Hawkins, son of an innkeeper, finds a map to Treasure Island in the late Billy Bones' belongings and sets out with a couple of old men eager to add to their wealth and a scurvy crew of mostly shifty sailors for the promised treasure. Along the way there is plotting, betrayal, and mutiny from the sailors, treasure unearthed, a battle fought, a maroon found, and ultimately the triumph of goodness, luck, and bravery.

This novel is in fact the original pirate tale, the one that has influenced so much of the pop culture portrayals of pirates to this day. It is a portrait of Britain in the Victorian age and of the romanticism of the high seas; it is pure adventure. The language in it is decidedly more difficult than what is presented to children today but the story, after a bit of a slow start, is still completely entertaining and engrossing. Young Jim is lucky, often in the right place at the right time, and he has invaluable instincts. Long John Silver seems charming and kindly but who hides his real, greedy and evil nature as long as possible. I first read this at our cottage by flickering gaslight and that was perfect for the atmosphere evoked here. If you don't have such a place to sink into this book, I suspect it would make a fantastic read aloud bedtime story. Be warned though, that the audience for the story will beg you not to stop at this chapter or that, wanting the whole adventure in one go. And good luck not getting "yo ho ho and a bottle of rum" or "sixteen men on a dead man's chest" stuck in your head after you read it!
Show Less

Pages

296

Rating

½ (4918 ratings; 3.8)
Page: 2.3544 seconds