In one sentence: Despite the sense of familiarity throughout the book, it was still immensely entertaining.
This review will contain spoilers!
In many sentences:
Reading this book I couldn't help but feel that everything was pretty standard, straight forward, unsurprising, and at times even familiar. Unfortunately, while all of this is true, none of it is the fault of Treasure Island itself, but rather a sign of the impact it has had on literature since. For example, as soon as Long John Silver was introduced, I knew he was the bad guy, not because of any foreshadowing or characterization in the text itself, but because modern culture awareness holds that John Silver is a bad guy.
The revelation of Silver as the villain was particularly unfortunate because it would have been a rather exciting surprise to be with John as he overhears the plotting of Silver inside the apple barrel. Instead, it was simply a matter of discovering an already known fact.
Despite the sense of familiarity throughout the book, however, it was still immensely entertaining. The adventures on the island are exciting, and John's courage (and foolhardiness) was fun to experience firsthand, rather than through the common references of subsequent art and entertainment. I would recommend this to anyone, and being able to get a young reader, before they have the story ruined by the constant presence of the work in modern society, would be the best way to go about it.
FYI – I decided to read this because Jonathan Stroud, author of the Bartimaeus trilogy, mentioned in an interview that it is one of his favorite books. Also, I read this and had no idea what it meant, so I thought I would include it here: “Have I lived this many years, and a son of a rum puncheon cock his hat athwart my hawse at the latter end of it?”
"SQUIRE TRELAWNEY, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17_ and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with the sabre cut first took up his lodging under our roof."Robert Louis Stevenson the First Line of Treasure Island
Robert Louis Stevenson the Last Line of in Treasure Island