Saturday, April 16, 2011

Review: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Oh boy did I not want to read this book. Frankly, I have absolutely no idea how it got on my list. I remember reading it long, long ago (maybe middle school) and not being particularly impressed. Regardless of my whining and foot dragging, the book was picked so I had to read it and write a review for it. I got through the former and now I am forcing myself to do the latter.

I'm not going to go into the plot in any real detail. I'm sure you've all heard/read/watched it in some form and if you haven't, read the title of the book. That's essentially what it's about. For those of you not in the know, I'll sum it up in about a minute.

An old pirate staying at Jim's (main character) family's inn dies and leaves a chart for treasure on an island. Other pirates come for the chart and and are chased off. Jim and a few other courageous folks decide to go find the treasure, procure a ship, and head out. All but a few of the crew are found to be pirates looking for the treasure before the ship comes ashore the island land and plans are made to escape from aforementioned pirates. Drama and action unfolds as the two sides duke it out and try to beat each other to the treasure. The end.

One thing about this novel confused me. I do not understand at all how it is supposed to be a children's/young adult novel. Leaving aside the great deal of violence which occurs throughout it (in the form of shootings, stabbings, strangulation, clubbings, and getting run down by a horse), the only middle schoolers who would understand a lot of the language used in Treasure Island would be those who are currently being home schooled on a pirate ship. Outside of Somalia, I'm not sure how often this occurs. I'd guess not much.

Between the outdated language (published in 1883) and the technical sailing language used, I had to look a good number of words up in the dictionary. Boy did that make me feel not particularly smart.

Anyways, I'm not particularly sure what niche this novel fills anymore. I can't see it interesting a large number of Harry Potter-Twilight-reading young adults and find it equally as unlikely that adults will pick it up very often. I suppose it will be relegated to the despised status of middle school English literature required reading. It could be worse; at least it will still get readership (minus all those Sparknotes users out there).

Treasure Island isn't a bad book. It is one of the seminal young adult adventure books that exist and has provided almost all of popular culture's references to pirates (cheap fried seafood at Long John Silver's, for instance). I'll never read it again, but I wouldn't sway any young readers away from it. Looking up words in the dictionary builds character.

I give Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson three out of five swashbuckling stars.


Next up is Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally. I had no idea this was a novel before it was a movie until just recently. Love the movie so I'm hoping the book is enjoyable.

No comments:

Post a Comment