Book Review: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

January 18, 2011

This post was previously posted on Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing.


“Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson is an 1883 fictional adventurous and classic pirate story. The book follows Jim Hawkins, a young man, who has found a treasure map and with the help of friends hires a crew to find the treasure. But the crew has their own plans.

  • 304 pages
  • Publisher ‏ : Barnes & Noble Classics
  • Language ‏ : English
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : 1593082479

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My rating for Treasure Island – 5
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Robert Louis Stevenson


I read “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson as a young boy and always remembered it as one of my favorites. Recently, as part of a classics book club, I read it again.

The two main characters of the book, Jim Hawkins and Long John Sliver have certainly cemented themselves as two of the most intriguing and dimensional characters in literature. I was happy to reconnect with them almost as if they were old friends.

The first half of the book was a breeze to read, but the second half was a bit more difficult due to the pirate’s slang, cumbersome metaphors and tongue tied conversations. However, I quickly re-discovered that those quirks were part of the charm of the book. Even Jim Hawkins admits he has trouble understanding the narrative – so I wasn’t alone.

I read the Barnes and Noble classics version, which came with a fascinating biography of Stevenson especially regarding “Treasure Island”. The book was actually written for Stevenson’s stepson, after painting the island he started the novel and completed 15 chapters. Stevenson finished the book in Switzerland writing a chapter a day.

Unknowingly, Stevenson created much of the pirate lore which we have been accustomed to. The pirate speaking almost unintelligibly, a parrot on his shoulder, missing a foot and ready to double cross his best friends for a buck or two.

My biggest surprise upon reading “Treasure Island” as an adult was that I realized that the story is not about Jim Hawkins, but about Long John Silver. Granted that usually the villain in any book is usually more colorful and fun than the upstanding protagonist – but this discovery has taken by surprise. Silver’s moral ambiguity is well known but just how amoral the character is I never fully realized as a naïve child (even though I have become a naïve adult).

I was happy to discover that “Treasure Island” truly deserves its status as a beloved classic. The story is suspenseful and the adventure can be enjoyed by children of any age.

I the mid 18th Century at a seaside village in south-west England Jim Hawkins, the young son of the keepers of the Admiral Benbow Inn, meets and old seaman named Billy Bones. Quickly Jim discovers that Bones is a pirate and that his old crewmates want Bones’ sea-chest.

Bones dies and Jim opens his sea-chest to collect the money owed to the inn – only to discover a mysterious oilskin packet. The packet is a detailed map of an island Jim, together with Dr. Livesey and Squire Trelawney, hire a crew to sail to the island.

But the crew are not the honest sailors they think they are and the sea-cook, Long John Silver, turns out to be the most dangerous one of them all.

Jim Hawkins, Long John Silver and his parrot

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Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer:I bought this book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books

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Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson


  • mummazappaJanuary 18, 2011 at 8:16 am

    I think I’ve got a copy of an abridged version for children lying around here somewhere, but perhaps I should read an adults version sometime. Sigh, just another classic I really should read!

    • zoharJanuary 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm

      It’s a “good” classic and a quick read, you’ll love it.

  • LifetimeReaderJanuary 18, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Although my young son loves this book (having read first the children’s versions and then the full edition), I’ve never read it. I’ve been pretty happy with the B&N editions so far and am glad to hear this one is good too. I love the idea that he wrote a chapter a day!

    • zoharJanuary 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm

      I have to by my son the children’s version, albeit he is too young (3.5). My daughter however is ready to be introduced to the classics.

  • AshleyJanuary 18, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Thanks again for guest posting for me!

    • zoharJanuary 18, 2011 at 12:27 pm

      You’re welcome, it was a pleasure.

  • SamJanuary 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    I really want to read this one 🙂

  • RyanJanuary 18, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I’ve been wanting to read a lof these classics for a while now and I did knock out two of Jules Verne’s last year. Treasure Island and Swiss Family Robinson are on my To Read list this year. Thanks for the review.

  • WynterFebruary 16, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly with your rating on this book! This is one classic that will always have a place of honor in my library!

    • zoharFebruary 18, 2011 at 2:55 pm

      Same here, it is a great book.

  • usamaJuly 10, 2011 at 4:05 am

    treasure island is good

  • SREEPRIYADecember 16, 2011 at 6:49 am

    WHAT A SUPER STORY?????????

  • D.LALEETHApril 22, 2012 at 11:58 am

    its supper and amazing story

  • g.ebenezer samuelJune 30, 2012 at 7:48 am

    it was a amazing story i like this story

  • niroopaaJuly 5, 2012 at 9:26 am

    i like the story

  • JaneGSDecember 13, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I loved this story as a kid and read it several times–my brother even had a parrot he named Long John Silver and tried unsuccessfully to teach him to say “Pieces of Eight.” It’s on my reread list for 2013, and I can’t wait! I’m also a fan of Kidnapped.

    Wonderful review–I liked your insight about Silver being the focus of the story. As a kid, I identified with Jim completely, and haven’t yet read the book as an adult. Should be interesting!

    • Zohar - Man of la BookDecember 13, 2012 at 11:36 pm

      Thanks Jane. It was a surprise to me as well to discover that Long John Silver was the main character.

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