I have no idea how I grew up without reading this book. I am probably one of the few kids in the United States that did not read this during childhood years. However, I can safely say I knew this plot only from Muppet’s Treasure Island. I grew up watching that movie multiple times per year, so you can imagine my disappointment when Ben Gunn turned up instead of Benjamina Gunn (a.k.a., Miss Piggy) and Squire Trelawney did not in fact talk to a person who lived in his finger. As you can guess, I pictured many of the characters as Muppets (like Captain Smollett as Kermit the Frog). Yes, I am aware that I have issues.
Synopsis: This adventurous, swashbuckling tale follows the heroic young Jim Hawkins as he sets out to find the infamous Captain Flint’s treasure, surrounded constantly by danger, lies, and the manipulative Long John Silver.
Since this is a classic and most everyone probably knows the basic plot, I won’t bother to give a spoiler warning. However, if you have lived under a rock your entire life and have never heard of this book, keep in mind I will be talking about the plot in its entirety.
This book is good for what it is. If you are a young reader who loves adventure, pirates, and treasure hunting, this is the book for you. It is a short book, an easy read, an interesting plot, and contains excellent descriptions. However, the characters are rather shallow, the character motivations are unclear, and there are quite a few scenes which add little to the plot. Let me break down this book a little further.
Jim Hawkins is the main protagonist, but he is also a projective character. What I mean by this is that he is smart, brave, good, but he is not anything similar to a real person. He seems to be the type of protagonist that any young reader can project themselves upon. I see this in a lot of YA fiction (take Bella from Twilight). This isn’t a criticism if this is the type of character you want and if you want to feel as if you are part of the story. However, for me I kept wanting to see Jim’s deeper motivations, quirks, and thought processes, of which there were none to be had.
Similarly, though a few characters stood out to me (most of all Long John Silver and Squire Trelawney), most of the characters were divided into simple categories like bad, good, stupid, loyal, pirate, etc. Because of this, I was constantly getting certain characters confused (like the many pirates) and didn’t even want to waste my time memorizing who was who because it would simply be the learning of a name, not a person.
While the characters were lacking, the plot itself was incredibly fun. The inciting incident of Jim finding the treasure map and Billy Bones dying is intriguing, to say the least. Everyone loves the idea of setting sail for treasure! So Jim goes to Doctor Livesey and Squire Trelawney to ask their help, and they plan to hire a ship and crew. This is ruined by Trelawney’s big mouth (can I say how much I loved him, both in the book and as a Muppet), as the pirates get wind of it and most of the crew hired work for Long John Silver, the main pirate in the story.
Even if I didn’t know that Silver was a bad guy before reading this book, I would have figured it out pretty quick, as Jim hints to it several times in his narration. I could not help but wish that Stevenson had chosen to keep Silver’s identity as ambiguous, as then the reveal of him being a pirate later on would be more meaningful and shocking.
However, I will say the plot did have enough twists and turns to make the story interesting, even if the plot itself is basic. There are a few fight scenes, lots of running around the island, and a few close calls for many characters.
As I said before, this is an enjoyable book for what it is. It is certainly not the type of book I would usually pick up, simply because I enjoy more character-driven books over plot-driven books. However, for what this book is, it is an excellent adventure novel and one I could easily recommend all children to read.
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts about it? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more madness and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventures,