Somehow, I have gotten through life without ever having read or watched Treasure Island. How I have managed this I have no clue and I feel that it was a tragedy that I had not read this book before now (I’m in my late 20s…). The most I have ever known about this book was bits and pieces (no more than 15 minutes) of Muppet’s Treasure Island:
I had a road trip this weekend and decided (mostly since I had just scrolled past it on my to-read list and it was on sale) to purchase Treasure Island to listen to on the drive. The voice actor, Neil Hunt, did a phenomenal job. He had a deep, gravelly voice that portrayed pirates well, as well as adapting to the accent and poor grammar, most of us associate with pirates (and also follows the text in the book – I looked it up). It was especially fun to sing along –
Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest,
yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the Devil had done for the rest,
yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
The story follows young Jim Hawkins. He accidentally finds the treasure map to an old pirate’s treasure on Treasure Island. He, the local doctor (Livesey), and the local Squire (Trelawney) hire a schooner, the Hispaniola, and a ragged crew to sail to the island and claim the treasure. I will go so far as to tell you there is a mutiny, and much of the story focuses around the discovery of the mutiny, the mutiny itself, and the aftermath, as the innocent treasure seekers fight for their lives. It was a fabulous example of story telling, with interesting twists and turns (not terribly surprising, but interesting all the same) that keep the reader entertained and engaged.
Different images of the treasure map:
I thought this was a fantastic book. I understand now why it is considered the original and ultimate example for pirate stories. Betrayal, death, drama, treasure, excitement, all these are embodied in this book. I loved how the story is considered a narrative, a retelling, almost a historical account of events, but you get drawn in and you feel like you are there. The author holds back nothing of what life was like on the seas or what pirates were like (we assume). Dirty, coarse, and often gross and smelly, everything is described. Even emotions are described in detail, as well as the deaths of men in the book.
I would recommend this book to teens, young adults, and anyone looking for a good classic. It is definitely not a girly book, but women will like it if it is the type of read they are looking for. I would also recommend this to parents of older children to read it to them. Do be careful, however. This book was written in the late 1800s. There are a couple curse words, a lot of violence, death, a lot of drinking of rum, wine, and brandy (even by young Jim), as well as references to blacks as negroes. Despite these things, it is a great book that can provide “teachable moments” to older children or can be an interesting, valuable read to teens and older. Highly recommended.