books and cleverness

I read books of all sorts, but mostly kids' lit and young adult literature and speculative fiction for all ages—usually from a feminist perspective. 


I've adopted a personalized version of the CHOICE reviews approach to recommendations/star ratings:

***** = Essential, a.k.a. truly love, absolute must-read, buy it now
**** = Highly Recommended, a.k.a. this is a really good book; I would buy it as a gift
*** = Recommended, a.k.a. pretty good; worth reading
** = Optional, a.k.a. meh
* = Not Recommended; a.k.a. this is not a good book

Treasure Island

Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson, John Seelye

At last, I've read Treasure Island! It was such a treat. I usually don't like to give ratings to classics because I don't see the point, but I enjoyed this very much. Highly recommended!


I think I had never read it until now because I thought it would be like Robinson Crusoe, which is rambling and imperialistic (and so, kind of boring), or like The Swiss Family Robinson, which is preachy (and so, kind of boring). But Treasure Island is just straight-up solid adventure times.


What is there to like?

  • Jim Hawkins is a believable boy, and a likeable one—I especially like that all the major plot points, and all the ways in which the gentlemen crew evade the pirates, happen because Jim doesn't do as he is told. He acts honorably, but he takes risks, which is the perfect adventuring ethos.
  • The plot is fast-moving and exciting (the book is actually a lot shorter than I expected).
  • Long John Silver is a truly excellent villain, and thoroughly deserves his place in the classic villains hall of fame. He's not a frightening monster; he's an expert code-switcher and actor, an intelligent, canny businessman, able to think on his foot (sorry, couldn't resist!) and calculate the best likely outcome for himself at every quick turn of events.
  • Good inept rookie-pirate comedy.


What is there not to like?

  • A few uncomfortable-making comments about "Negroes" but it's pretty tame—again, especially considering Robinson Crusoe as a point of comparison.
  • Ben Gunn is a bit of a troubling figure. I'm not quite sure what to make of him and his fate, but he ends up basically okay, so I'm not too worried about him.
  • Might make you sad that swashbuckling is not a legitimate career path these days.


What made me pick it up?

I was on a trip and had finished the print books I had with me and, lucky for me, found this pre-loaded as a Google Book on a (hand-me-down) tablet I had just recently been given.


Treasure Island poster/cover art

The very cool cover art used for the e-book version I read.