Treasure Island is to pirate stories what Lord of the Rings is to fantasy. R.L.Stevenson created the pirate character as we know it in literature and pop culture today in a very similar way to how J.R. Tolkien defined elves, dwarves, and halflings. Then Stevenson took it a step further by creating Long John Silver, one of the most fascinating characters to come out of 19th century literature.
Long John is a lying, cheating, conniving, murderous, and greedy pirate, the same as all the other pirates in the story. But he is also clever, diplomatic, and capable of working both sides of the fence when it serves his purposes. This puts him in a class of his own. He is not a super pirate. He is a super villain for his day.
I have always thought that Treasure Island should be called "The Tale of Long John Silver" in the same way that my father always used to say the 70's t.v. show, Lost in Space, should be called "The Doctor Smith Show". Long John Silver is really the central figure of the story. He sets the tempo, and more than any other character, he makes Treasure Island a great story.
One thing I wondered this time as I read Treasure Island was- is this the first YA story? For although LJS makes the story in my mind, the story is really about Jim Hawkins, a boy, who narrates most of the story. By Jim's cleverness, gutsiness, and sheer luck he manages to outsmart pirates and save the day. Jim is the hero, and I am curious to know if there were many young heros in literature before Treasure Island.
In summary I consider Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson as one of my personal classics. I have read this story several times, and each time it is as fresh as the last time. I cannot help feeling the excitement of actually setting out on an adventure. For this reason I give it 5 stars.