Thursday, January 28, 2016

Classic Review: Treasure Island!

Title: Treasure Island
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Publication Date: 1883
Pages: 311
Genre: Classic
My Rating: 4 Starfish!

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, who is one moment a friendly, laughing, one-legged sea-cook . . .and the next a dangerous pirate leader! 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. - Summary and cover image from Goodreads 

Wow. Just wow. This book blew me away! First off, I have to give a shout out to my 8th grade science teacher. He made the class read "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer", and I have been in love with the classics ever since. So even though I know you're not reading this, thank you, Mr. Reagan :)

Now onto the review!

I have a deep affection for friendships. The bond that forms between Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins is so odd, but it works so well. I will say that I was expecting their relationship to be something akin to Disney's "Treasure Planet" (yes, I know. But seriously, who doesn't love that movie?) however, I feel like the movie version had them both being a lot more touchy-feely with each other. So if you're expecting the book to be similar to that movie, I'll tell you right now that it's not. But that doesn't mean that their relationship wasn't any less strong and complex. I think that if you're going to give this book a go, you should go into it with all other revisions tossed to the back of you're mind. That way, you can really get wrapped up in the story and look at it as it's own thing (if that makes sense).

I understand that this story is most well known for the Hawkins-Silver storyline, which is fantastic, mind you. But I believe, that at the heart of this story, it is first and foremost an adventure. You can tell right away beginning in chapter one what the genre is. Action-packed doesn't even begin to describe it! I was immediately drawn into the story. By part two, I was all in. And by the time I reached the halfway point, I was completely immersed.

There are two unfortunate things about  most adventure novels that I've come across. First, there is so much action, and so little dialogue, that you never really delve into a character's psych like you should be able to do. Instead, you may find yourself rooting for the heroes (or even the bad guys), but you never get too attached to them. Second thing is that an adventure novel can have thrilling action sequences, but then a scene of dialogue comes along and it slows down and dulls what was, moments ago, a fast-paced novel. I am so very pleased to tell you that this book has found a way to beautifully balance between the action and the dialogue. Every scene smoothly transitioned into the next without breaking pace, and even the conversations between characters were just as exciting as the scenes of swashbuckling piracy goodness!

Jim Hawkins is a great lead character and the best choice of narrative for the story. I loved his innocence and the way that he described what was going on around him. He was a big reason why the story really came to life for me! Since we're on the subject, I loved the author's decision to include a few short chapters from another character's perspective. By doing this, it allowed the reader to see what had been going on while Jim was off doing his own thing. Once those chapters got you up to speed, it switched right back to Jim's narrative. I didn't get lost or confused at any point during this.  Great choice, Mr. Stevenson!

The characters were all great, my favorite being the doctor. I was surprised that he grew on me so quickly! But with his brave (and somewhat attitude-y) personality, you just can't help but like him. Each main character held there own, and I don't think that the story would have been near as good if any one of them had been left out of it.

Most people get turned off by the classics due to the words used and the old-fashioned style of writing. I think that this style actually helps to make the stories become more alive in the mind. But if the writing is something that concerns you, then I should mention that this particular classic is a lot easier to understand than most that I've read. I'm not entirely sure why. It could be the country that author resided in at the time, or it could be that the times were changing and books started changing with it. I mean, I really don't know. But if you're not a fan of classics for that reason, or if you've never read a classic before and are looking to start your first one, then I would suggest "Treasure Island" be the one you sit down with at the end of the day.

If it isn't obvious, I'm trying really hard to convince you to read this book! Because this book deserves to be loved! It has captured my young heart and brought the carefree kid out of me, and it has done so for many other people besides myself. To say that I love this book would be an understatement. I couldn't recommend it strongly enough.

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