🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
There is always a difficulty in writing a sequel to a much-loved classic in that comparisons will naturally be drawn. Motion has made a brave attempt and to some degree has pulled it off successfully.
Jim and Natty, son and daughter of Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver, set off to find the rest of the treasure still left on the island. The book, as you would expect from a previous Poet Laureate, is beautifully written with the descriptions of the sea and the natural world standing out in particular. I didn’t spot any glaring inconsistencies in plot between the original and this follow-on. The story is interesting and in places exciting and is greatly enhanced by the excellent, primitive-style illustrations by Joe McLaren. As a stand-alone novel I would rate this as a very good adventure yarn.
‘I found each wave, instead of being the big, smooth glassy mountain it seems from shore, was full of peaks and smooth plains and valleys. Very often a school of dolphins appeared among these slopes and summits, giving the impression – thanks to the curved lines of their mouths – that they kept us company, and leaped in and out of the waves, for no reasons except their own pleasure and our entertainment. Sometimes we watched a piece of driftwood, or a tonsured head that turned out to be a coconut, tumble over and over in the swell: no great thing in itself, but in the heat of midday, with a soft wind blowing, and the deck sweetly rolling, enough to induce a kind of trance.’
However, and for me it’s a big however, the whole style and tone of the book is hugely different from the original. Instead of yo-ho-ho sailors willing to mutiny for gold, we have a preternaturally good, obedient and frankly left-liberal crew. Anti-slavery, anti-violence, animal welfare types, willing to put treasure second to the rights of man? And whiling the evenings away by singing love-songs? All very noble, and designed, I assume, to remind us that the sequel is set during the Enlightenment, but hardly in tune with the original. And I doubt that seamen had adopted Enlightenment values with quite such enthusiasm over such a short period of time.
When I knew this book was coming out, I re-read Treasure Island and commented that I had forgotten what a rollicking good yarn it is. This sequel, while a good read on its own account, doesn’t capture that feel for me. This is a very sanitised, very 21st century take on adventure – I was hoping for more
“Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest
…Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
…Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”
but got instead
“Do you miss me, sweet ladies,
Do you keep me in your heart?
As for me, I’m always with you,
Never mind how far apart.”
So overall I found this a very good book but not a great sequel. However, even with this caveat, the plot, the illustrations and, most of all, the excellent descriptive prose make this a book well worth reading. Recommended.