Review: Treasure Island

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Author: Robert Louis Stevenson

It’s very rare that a person ever comes across books that he has spent most of his life thirsting to read. As a lover of literature, one is bound to, at some point in time, come across names of books whose legend has transcended time and are engraved in the walls of the literature hall of fame. Books that have graced the shelves of many great men, and will continue to grace the shelves of many more people for generations to come.

One such book is Treasure Island by the Edinburgh born author Robert Louis Stevenson. I’ve spend years hearing about this book from a wide range of sources that include other books, movies, and other avid readers and since my first encounter with its name, it has become a book that I have always wanted to get lost in. But, as fate would have it, my journey to Funda Community College has once again given me a chance to read one of the books that I have always wanted to read.

I came across this book while I was going through a pile of books that were gathering dust in the small rooms of the Es’kia Mphahlele Library, in which they have been forced to find a new home, trying to find African Literature books. I decided to start reading it and as soon as I began reading it became very hard for me to stop. Even though I had a tough time reading and understanding the pirate/buccaneer colloquial used in some of the dialogs in the book, I thoroughly enjoyed the adventures the book took me on and all the wonderful characters it has.

The book tells the story of young Jim Hawkins and his adventure to Treasure Island. The story begins with Jim and his family’s encounter with Captain Flint. A buccaneer who has buried treasure and is fleeing from his old shipmates, Captain Flint one day walks into the Admiral Benbow inn, which is both run and owned by Jim’s parents, and decides to settle there while on his flee. His shipmates eventually locate him and succeed in killing him, with the hope of finding the map to his hidden treasure. But instead of the buccaneers finding it, the map was found by young Jim, who in turn took it to Dr Livesely.

The doctor decided to contact Mr Trelawney and ask him to organize a voyage to the treasure bearing island, which the later did very well. Mr Trelawney organised a ship for them – the Hispaniola – and all the hands that were needed to ensure the success of the trip. In the crew were former shipmates of Captain Flint who, under the leadership of John Sliver, planned to ambush the crew and take all the booty of the voyage.

The adventure that follows includes gun fights, tropical island scenarios, the digging for the gold, fights between the good and the bad guys, and many other scenarios typical of a bad guys verses good guys adventure. The story ends with the good guys wining and John Silver escaping after he had been accepted back into the Hispaniola after saving Jim’s life more than once. The surviving members of the voyage return home as men of wealth and some spend their money wisely while others spend it carelessly, “according to their nature” as Jim put it.

The book was written in first person, with Jim Hawkins as the narrator, and reads more like an adventurous autobiography than a fictional story. It is a brilliant book for young people, but is also a good read for older people, and is a book that you would read if you wanted to escape the real world into one full of adventure. Once you turn the first page it will be very hard for you to stop reading, and even though the fact that you would have to familiarise yourself with buccaneer colloquial adds a bit of extra work for the reader, that process itself also adds a lot to the books adventure.

The book is a definite must read and I definitely enjoyed reading it.


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