Return to Treasure Island
Historical Fiction, Fantasy
October 9th, 2014
Blogging for Books, in exchange for review
Washed ashore after escaping Treasure Island, young Jim Hawkins and his companion Natty find themselves stranded on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Their ship, the Nightingale, has been destroyed, and besides one other crew member, they are the only survivors. Before they can even grasp the full scope of their predicament, they realize they are not alone on the beach. When a band of Native Americans approaches the shore in a threatening fury, they brutally kill Jim and Natty’s last shipmate, rob their dead crew, and take the two desperate survivors hostage.
Suddenly, Jim and Natty are thrust into an adventure that takes them all across the unruly American South. Starting with a desperate escape from a violent chief who obsessively keeps close on their trail, they join up with a troupe of entertainers who take them to a thriving and dangerous New Orleans, and seek the closest port so they can set sail for home once again.
The New World is the sequel to Silver, the continuation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, Treasure Island. And I’m conflicted about it.
On the one hand, it was an action/adventure much the same as Silver, with historical basis and the inclusion of a lot of First Nations presence (yay diversity).
On the other hand, the characters are esoteric and distant, and difficult to care about- even more so than in Silver, where at least the nautical and survival-on-an-island themes kept the pace engaging.
Natty is so mercurial and kept throwing out little tidbits like “If you don’t know it, Jim, you never will.” I re-read passages trying to see whatever the undercurrent was that I missed, but it’s just…nothing. She’s vague and odd and it’s never explained. Or I’m too dimwitted to pick up on what Andrew Motion is hinting at. And that bothered the heck out of me. Also, Jim is prone to narrative-interrupting daydreaming in which he’s actually prescient. Which is odd, to say the least.
Lastly, the story just never ended. That was charming at first, in an Odysseus kind of way. But by the end of the book, it was just annoying and felt too commercialized, as if the author was hoping that by presenting open-ended questions instead of a satisfying conclusion, we readers would be compelled to continue the series. Call me crazy, but I’m compelled to continue a series if I love the characters, pace, and writing- not because there’s a lack of closure.
I can only recommend this to people who really loved Silver. Unless your thing is super mysterious characters and zero closure.