Robert Louis Stevenson: Treasure Island
by Robert Louis Stevenson
narrated by Neil Hunt
(YA, classic adventure)
This book is a classic. That’s undisputed, I think. And it’s one that everyone should read – preferably twice, I think, once as a kid and once as an adult. You get completely different things out of it at different ages. When I read it as a kid, I got the intensity of the adventure, the fright at Jim’s danger, and the excitement of a pirate story. As an adult, I could appreciate the crafting of the story, all (or at least more) of the cultural references that were used in this book and that have come from this book, and I got a lot more out of the descriptions of how the sailing ship worked. It was less intense with this re-read, though that could possibly be due to the fact that I was listening to an audiobook this time around. (I can never tell if listening to the audio version will make a book feel more or less intense than reading it for myself.)
The basic plot of this story should be known to just about everyone, even if you’re not aware that you know it. (Seriously, this story has buried itself deep, and references to it – blatant and otherwise – are everywhere.) Jim Hawkins is a young boy who helps his family run an inn, and one day an old sailor (well, an old pirate as we find out later) comes and rents a room. He stays a while until some of his old friends come by and give him a piece of paper with the “black spot” on it, and then he dies, leaving Jim and his mother in fear of the pirate’s friends. Jim finds a treasure map among the dead pirate’s things, and takes it to the local squire, who decides to mount a treasure hunting expedition. Well, the squire has the misfortune of picking mostly pirates for his crew on this treasure hunt, and when the ship arrives at Treasure Island the two sides fight. The pirates end up with the ship, and the squire, captain, Jim, and a few other loyal men end up with the map. There’s more fun and adventure after that, and it’s well worth reading. (I mean it – if you haven’t read this one before, you should read it now.)
This isn’t a deep, meaningful book, not really. It’s an adventure story, and its main character is a kid. But it is an important book. And I’m glad to have read it again.