Review: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

EBOOK; 183 P.
AMAZON MEDIA, 2012/1883

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, a one-legged sea-cook . . . and more!

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.

Treasure Island is one of those children’s classics that manage to thrill year after year. One of the most read pirate stories, it features a cast that will haunt you for better and for worse. Despite having read a lot of the classic children’s tales already as a child, this was my first time reading Stevenson’s book.

Treasure Island begins when a strange sea-farer lodges into a small family owned inn. The young son of the family, Jim Hawkins, follows this strange man who seems to believe he’s haunted by a man with a peg-leg. The family is almost convinced of his lunacy, until one day a blind man stops into the inn and delivers the seaman a black spot. The events that are kicked into motion from there take young Jim on a quest for a true treasure as he and and his friends take the sails to find the mysterious Treasure Island.

When I picked up Treasure Island, I expected to find an exciting but maybe a bit dull or simple story about a young boy sailing to find a pirate treasure. And in a way, that’s what Treasure Island is in an essence. It is the wildest dream of every kid, to sail with adults and prove yourself worthy and to out-wit the pirates. However, what made the story so enjoyable was Stevenson’s engaging way of writing. The book is a fast-paced adventure that is sure to set your imagination running wild and your mind thirsting for adventure. Sure, it falls into some of the children’s adventure story tropes, but damned if I didn’t wish that I’d read this as a child. I read Dr. Jekyl and Mister Hyde many years ago, but now I think I’ll have to revisit it to see how I’d feel about it now. If you haven’t already read Treasure Island, I definitely recommend that you do so – even if only for the child-like excitement that it brings – and if you have children and/or younger siblings, read this to them.


“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.”


7 thoughts on “Review: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

  1. It is a classic! I haven’t read it in years, I may pick it up again now. There was a staged version of this at the National Theatre recently – I think it only ended last week. They made Jim a girl & Long John Silver much younger, which definitely changed the dynamic somewhat…

    • Oo.. that would definitely direct the story to a different direction. However, I do think that the story could also work with a female protagonist (especially in a more modern context!). But if you do end up picking this up, I’d be fun to hear your thoughts on it!

  2. Great review! I really have to read Treasure Island myself soon; I have a copy waiting for my on my TBR shelf and somehow I have been ignoring this classic so far. You make it sound like it’s about time to pick up my copy!

  3. Great book and great review 🙂
    As Disney fanatic, I think I saw ‘Treasure Planet’ before reading this hahaha, at least it wasn’t like Hunchback of Notre Dame xD they didn’t change that much.

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