Monday, June 29, 2015

Silver: Return to Treasure Island—Andrew Motion


When the tide was full, and the gullies brimmed with water, and the earth became too spongy for me to walk across it, I was like Adam expelled from his garden. (6)

I received the sequel to this book, The New World, through Librarything's Early Reviewers program. When I requested it, I didn't realize it was a sequel, and thought it was just the next part of the story after Treasure Island itself. I think that I probably would have been okay to just start reading The New World, but it was nice to have the context of this one before jumping into its sequel.

Jim Hawkins the younger, son of Treasure Island Jim Hawkins, has spent his life hearing stories about his father's adventures. When a mysterious girl shows up outside his window along the Thames and tells him that she's Long John Silver's daughter, and that they should go back to Treasure Island to get the rest of the silver, Jim is instantly smitten and more than that, itching for an adventure of his own. Jim leaves with her, without saying goodbye to his father, and absconding with the map to Treasure Island that his father had kept safe since his own return. Natty, Silver's daughter, takes Jim to meet her father, who has degenerated mentally a bit in his old age. But he's still present enough to have hired a captain and ship to take Natty and Jim back to Treasure Island—with Natty in disguise as "Nat," the son of Silver. But when they arrive at Treasure Island, it is not quite as abandoned as they imagine. While they find the silver, and eventually free many of the slaves and escape the slavers who now occupy the island, they lose their captain in the process, as well as many of the slaves. Then to add insult to injury, just when they think they are home free, a hurricane shipwrecks the Nightingale, leaving only Natty and Jim alive.

I haven't yet read Treasure Island—I don't know how I missed that during my adolescence—but I do know Muppet Treasure Island almost line for line, so, I'm basically an expert...I do wish that I'd realized the Kindle version of this book (which I was reading) actually includes a copy of the original Treasure Island, but by the time I noticed, I was already halfway through this book, so it seemed a bit silly at that point to go back and read it. Although I do want to read it at some point in my life. Also, David Tennant, of Doctor Who fame, narrates the audiobook, which is pretty cool.

My biggest issue with the book is that its clearly meant to be an adventure, but it doesn't feel like one. I'm totally fine with "slice of life" OR books that actually have a discernible, purposeful plotline. But this book couldn't seem to decide which it wanted to be. I found myself asking "why" so often, and not in a good way. For example, when Natty and Jim are journeying from England to the Caribbean, there is a crew member Jordan Hands who is Israel Hands' nephew. (In Treasure Island, Jim's father killed Israel Hands.) Within something like ten pages of the start of the journey, Jordan Hands wants to take revenge upon Jim for his father's actions, so he kills another unrelated crew member, and then when they tie him up and plan to turn him into the authorities, he jumps off the ship rather than wait to stand trial. Like, what purpose did that serve, other than to have another unnecessary tie to Treasure Island itself? Andrew Motion is obviously a superb writer, having garnered a multitude of accolades and well-known in his native England, but the story fell flat for me.