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Book Review: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (4/5)

10 Dec

I picked this one because I was in need of a 1700s read. I’m getting close to the end of the year and I’m close to finishing the When Are You Reading? Challenge. This book puts me one step closer. It helped that it’s a beloved children’s classic. I was excited to read it!

Cover image via Goodreads

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Summary from Goodreads:

From the moment young Jim Hawkins first encounters the sinister Blind Pew at the Admiral Benbow Inn until the climactic battle for treasure on a tropic isle, the novel creates scenes and characters that have fired the imaginations of generations of readers. Written by a superb prose stylist, a master of both action and atmosphere, the story centers upon the conflict between good and evil – but in this case a particularly engaging form of evil. It is the villainy of that most ambiguous rogue Long John Silver that sets the tempo of this tale of treachery, greed, and daring.

I didn’t realize how much fun this book would be. I knew it was the source of Long John Silver the pirate but I didn’t realize how many other classic pirate stereotypes would come from it. The parrot, buried treasure, and marooning on a desert island were all present and taking center stage. I feel the need to watch the muppet version now and see if it was as fun as this one.

Jim was very brave for a boy his age. He did many things I would have been terrified to do at his age, but maybe I’m looking at it with the lens of adulthood and caution. Maybe only a child could have done those things. The adults seemed practical and conniving like I would be. It seems a far-fetched situation, but the people in it behaved as I would have expected.

Silver was a great character. You bounced back and forth between loving him and hating him at every turn and it was fun to have a character you could only count on to save himself. He did what was best for him, but he was honest about it, even when it was against the heroes or only helping the heroes to save himself. I could almost respect him, but not quite.

The whole story was too much of a fantasy for me to relate to it. That’s why it was fun and an adventure. I could see myself being swept away, but not that I would be Jim or in Jim’s shoes. I enjoyed the imagination of it and the nods I now see Peter Pan and other pirate adventures have gathered from this classic.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Image via

The initial landing on the island was the most exciting part for me. When Jim snuck off the boat and met Ben Gunn, I was enthralled. I couldn’t understand why Jim would do such a thing, though, and that mildly upset me. He seemed to be chasing an adventure without thinking of who he was chasing it with. I wondered how much he regretted that decision and how quickly.

I thought the beginning dragged a bit. Billy Bones was an interesting character but there was much more to come once he was out of the picture. I wish it had been shortened a bit and the ending of the book a bit longer. I wonder now how Jim’s mother is doing because I’m very invested in her character.

The men are all swayed by greed. The idea of a treasure drives them to stab each other in the back and kill. I was surprised at how much death was in this children’s book. The things the men did before they even knew where the treasure was were a bit surprising. The island was pretty big, I’m not sure how they expected to find it without a map.

Writer’s Takeaway: Trying something new in writing is always a risk, but Stevenson started a genre. There are elements of this book in many future adventure tales and knowing this story was the first and how wonderful a story it is makes me very happy. I only hope that this story was as popular in Stevenson’s time as it has become over the years since it was published. I know I can’t be afraid to write an adventure story and I hope the novel I have can entertain people as much as Stevenson has.

This was such a fun book and I’m so glad I’ve read it. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfills the 1700s for the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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Related Posts:
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson | The Reading Bug
Review: Treasure Island | The Diary of the Literature Man