Book Review: Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 5/5 stars

I subconsciously started reading “Treasure Island” shortly before my planned trip to Grand Cayman.  I have a long backlist of old books that I want to read and it amuses me that my brain chose this book without my being aware as to why I chose it.  It wasn’t until shortly before I left for Grand Cayman before I realized, “Oh, that’s why I chose this book!”

Ahoy matey!  If you know anything about pirates, chances are what you know came from “Treasure Island”.  Almost every pirate stereotype is a stereotype because of this book.  Parrot?  Check.  Peg leg?  Check.  Drunken revelry?  Check.  Buried treasure?  Check.  X marks the spot?  Check.  You would be hard pressed to find another example of a piece of literature that so thoroughly defines a genre so completely.  That, my friends, is art.  I would go even farther and say that “Treasure Island” also inspired, consciously or unconsciously, many of the top young adult novels of our time.  Can you think of other wildly successful novels as old as “Treasure Island” whose main character is a young boy on an adventure?

“Treasure Island” has so infused our culture that even if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, you know the story.  Pirate Billy Bones comes to an inn run by young Jim Hawkins’ family.  He is hiding from some of his former pirates and he has a treasure map.  He is eventually found and dies after a confrontation with one of his brethren but not before Jim finds the map.  Jim confides in Dr. Livesey and Squire Trewlaney and soon an adventure is set up to find the hidden treasure!  The crew they hire, of course, turn out to be pirates and the rest of the book tells how the good guys survive the pirates and gather the treasure.

“Treasure Island” is an incredibly fun escapist read.  Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver are as memorable characters as you will find in literature.  Reading the book, you can not help but want to be there with Jim on his adventure.  Well, maybe without the pirates trying to kill you, but you get the idea.  Sailing a ship through the ocean in search of buried treasure, drinking rum, and singing sea shanties is awfully appealing.

If you have not read this book, you should.  I can see myself reading this book again and again.  If you have kids, you should read it to them.  There’s some material that is age inappropriate, mostly murder and mayhem, so be ye warned if you are of the opinion that children should be hidden from such realities as long as possible.