Happy Monday, my friends!
Today I am excited to share my review of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I read this as part of my Classics Club list at the end of 2018. This is a classic adventure story. There are pirates, a quest for treasure, and surprises along the way. It seems like the ancestor of the modern action packed novels filled with adventures. I was excited to read it for the first time!
My first experience with this story was when my sisters were in an elementary school production of Treasure Island when we were kids. My mom also accompanied the performances on the piano. The whole story was a bit simplified and some elements were pretty silly. Captain Smollett was Captain Patches and was a silent clown complete with red nose and a big colorful wig! I was a bit surprised not to read about anything that surprising in the novel 😉
- I listened to a fun audio book that helped with the different accents and language especially from the pirates. Overall, this was not an overly riveting book–there were some slow parts. But it picked up for me towards the end.
- I was familiar with the basic story line of this book but didn’t know many of the details coming into reading it for the first time as part of the Classics Club. Reading books like this is a big reason of why I joined the Classics Club. It’s given me motivation and a timeline to finally read some of these classics!
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson follows the quest of Jim Hawkins as he races pirates, friends, and outcasts to follow a pirate’s map to buried treasure. According to Goodreads, “Peg-legged pirates, colorful parrots, and plundered riches – they’re all here in Robert Louis Stevenson’s original seafaring adventure. When young Jim Hawkins decides to follow a map to buried treasure, he must befriend or outsmart memorable characters such as pirate Long John Silver, captain Billy Bones, and island man Ben Gunn. Mutinous plans, mysterious deaths, and a tangle of double crosses keep Jim guessing all the way to the prize. Inspired by real-life seafarers, Stevenson captures the adventurous spirit of the times and the imagination of readers, young and old alike.”
The characters were either flat and unchanging or fascinating in their inconsistencies. We had several characters that didn’t really have much growth in the novel or whom were staunchly entrenched in their beliefs. Captain Smollett never changes his opinions of pirates as well as his almost obsession with duty. Squire Lindsay is also a bit bland as he continually shows his ignorance and innocence with seafaring life. To balance these bland characters, Stevenson writes some truly memorable characters. Jim Hawkins is a fun, mischievous protagonist that is fun to read about. He surprises me at times and I appreciate that he sometimes makes nearly fatal mistakes. I think Long John Silver is the more interesting character in the book. His conflicting morals and loyalties were fascinating to see unfold. Billy Bones was another intriguing character. I felt like we never quite understand his character completely which adds to his mystery and intrigue.
There is a lot more than physical treasure to uncover in this book. Themes of good vs evil, seeking truth, discovery, loyalty, duty and symbols like the coracle (small, round boat) and the treasure map were interesting to follow. I think these themes and symbols give the novel added depth. This isn’t just a book about an adventure. It’s teaching readers about life and about people. I think reading it as an adult for the first time helped me see all the layers of meaning to discover in this novel.
Several elements surprised me in this novel. There were several details that I didn’t expect. For example, I enjoyed the treasure hunting on the island which was a smaller part of the story than I anticipated. I was surprised to learn so much about sailing and ships–so many details are given! The ending also surprised me and was a bit unsatisfying for me. Everything just wraps up so quickly. I would have liked more details about what happens to some of the main characters.
Overall, I’m glad I read this book. It’s a great adventure story that I think especially middle grade boys would enjoy. Obviously, I’d say I’m out of the target audience, but I still enjoyed this one. Another book finished for The Classics Club!
What are your favorite adventure novels?
What classic should I read next?