Treasure Island
Review By: Gringo

In the interests of trying to broaden my literary horizons beyond Pooch Cafe and the occasional Christopher Buckley novel or two, I've taken to reading some of what are meant to be literary "classics," the kind you only pick up if your English teacher forces you to.

There are plenty that I'm yet to get round to -- including Phantom of the Opera, Uncle Tom's Cabin (insert any racist Obama jokes here, right-wing screwnuts) and 20,000 Leagues under the Sea -- but one I recently finished, and one I was not overwhelmingly impressed with, is the 1883 book Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.

As Muppet Treasure Island so helpfully taught us, the story is about a little urchin named Jim Hawkins who gets involved in a quest to find buried treasure on the titular island of gold. Silly boy. Doesn't he know from Indiana Jones' latest outing that knowledge was their treasure? Their treasure was knowledge. Along the way, the ship's cook Long John Silver reveals himself to be a bad guy, and conflicts ensue before the inevitable happy ending. So far, so potentially interesting.

You can find Long John Silver at the craps table

According to the notes at the start of my edition of the book, Stevenson wrote this as a yarn harking back to the now-romanticized days of pirating. Of course, we all know that pirates weren't exotic or lived a fun-filled life like Johnny Depp and the others would have you believe. Rather, it was more frequently a life of endless sailing, bloody battles, and gang-bang barebacking the cabin boy over a barrel of rum tasting like piss. Much to its detriment, this book contains none of these things.

I'm going to sound like I have the IQ of a mentally damaged squirrel, but the language in the book -- being as it is roughly 125 years old -- is confusing in places, and Stevenson tends to describe every minute detail that the reader doesn't care about.

The action is also incredibly underwhelming. There's something about Stevenson's style that is just so dull, he manages to present a battle on the beaches of Treasure Island as more of a punishment to read than a joy. What should be a suspense-filled scene of Hawkins sneaking aboard the ship Hispaniola, after it's been captured by pirates, turns into the kind of reading you'd dread going into an English class. And the ending? Well, things rap up far too quickly, and Silver just slips away into the night. Fascinating.

It's not often that I say this, but you really are better off sticking with a movie adaptation rather than reading this book. Especially if that delightful Muppet Pepe the King Prawn is involved.


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