I tried reading this a few months ago but never finished it. Not that it wasn’t good but because I had a lot going on at the time, not to mention, countless other books I had to read before it. I didn’t want to read it piecemeal so I put it down with plans to pick it up again.
Then the Classics Club announced another spin and so I pulled out my list of classics, made a list of 20 and waited for the lucky number which happened to be #19 and on my list that was Treasure Island.
I knew from the first time I tried reading it that this book was going to be an engaging read. Robert Louis Stevenson’s writing style draws the reader in until they are part of the action. This time, the book caught me hook, line and sinker. I finished it over a few hours.
What makes this book so great is that the adventure starts right from the first chapter when the main character Jim Hawkins and his parents, who own the Admiral Benbow Inn, receive a mysterious guest, known as the Captain, who ends up staying at their inn with nothing but soiled clothing, a mysterious chest and a huge appetite for rum. When the Captain inevitably meets his demise, Jim Hawkins discovers a map that will lead him to Treasure Island. And so the adventure begins and continues on land and sea with a whole host of characters.
I thought I knew the story of Treasure Island just from what people had told me, but it is quite another story when you read it. I had no clue what to expect except that I felt that I was standing right beside Jim the whole time, from hiding in the apple barrel overhearing Long John Silver make his plans to steal the treasure, to Jim’s actions on the island to save his friends. There was nothing predictable about this book and I kept turning the pages with anxious excitement, wondering how Jim and his friends were going to get out of the danger they were in.
Robert Louis Stevenson is so descriptive that I could picture the island clearly. I could feel the heat of the sun and feel the salt from the sea. I could also picture each of the characters, especially Captain Flint with his scar and Long John Silver with his one leg as he hobbled through the forest trying to keep up with the rest of the crew. I think one of the most iconic scenes comes right at the beginning when the reader is introduced to the blind man named Pew. He doesn’t have a large role but Stevenson has set it up that the tapping of the blind man’s cane on the road outside is equivalent to the music cue in a movie to indicate a pivotal moment. It is enough to set the reader on edge and keep turning the pages to find out what is going to happen.
What was most surprising to me was that the book was first published in 1883. It doesn’t read like your typical classic that is usually bogged down with dense language. Even adventure stories like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea can be slow sometimes. However, Treasure Island is anything but slow and it is so easy to read. That is probably why it has stood the test of time. It is also why it is a great children’s classic. Not to mention it is full of adventure, secret maps, treasures, pirates, danger and just plain fun.