I just finished reading Silver, and am not really sure if I liked it or not.
The author has made a fine job of duplicating the language of the original Treasure Island. However, I do wonder if he spent more time developing that aspect of this novel than he should have done.
There were parts of this book, such as the first chapter, when I was thinking: "Wow, this is great stuff!" And then, the book would spiral off into wads of incredibly melodramatic and cliched introspection. Far too much of the 'if I'd only known then what I know now' category of first person-narration schtick. Sometimes the story would pick up again, and I'd regain interest, but it was never sustained for long. I stuck with the book and finished it, but was not really absorbed by the story. Intrigued, but not absorbed.
I had a lot of trouble engaging with the characters. Their development seemed patchy, and did NOT begin to equal Stevenson's character depiction. Long John Silver, as originally written by Stevenson, is a memorable character because he was superficially likeable -- at least at first. You only have a total picture of his character near the end, when the camaradarie he had fostered with young Jim has worn away. We are not 'told' by Stevenson what we should think of him; we make up our own minds.
The original Jim was still a young boy, so his innocence was believeable. This new Jim chappie -- the old 'Jim Hawkins's" son -- is nearly 18 years old. He has been away to school for several years, now works with his father in a tavern, has been raised without a mother -- AND fed a constant diet of stories from the original Treasure Island, as told by his father. His 'innocence' and gullibility is irritating, rather than believable.
Slow, believable character development is absent from 'Silver.' Instead we are 'told' what to think about every aspect of this story. This new Jim wonders -- often -- whether Natty will turn out to be like her father, Long John. It's an interesting idea, but should have been subtly presented, instead of verbally clanging us over the head with it every couple of pages.
Natty's behaviour towards Jim throughout the story is indeed contradictory. What is she thinking? By the end, we still don't know, but don't really care either. In fact, the 'romance' between the two of them is just not believable, as presented. Sorry.
Young Jim proves also to be a bit of an airhead, wandering around looking at exotic plants and naming one after himself, while he's also chasing a band of degenerates who have captured the girl he 'loves.' He also takes time out during this pursuit to have a swim with some seals, one of whom rescues him when he gets caught in an undertow. As plot development, this is incredibly lame. "Treasure Island" as told by Charles Darwin?
As to the 'bad' characters -- including the now-aged Long John -- this author contented himself with exterior descriptions only, ranging from horrible to disgusting facial features, bad hair and bad breath. There is no nuance, and no hint of a 'good' character going bad, or a 'bad' character having any redeeming qualities. Nothing, in short, to make their development interesting, or to make them develop at all.
The character of Scotland and his fellow slaves is also disappointing. They just hang around, heads down, and accept bad treatment -- which, under the circumstances, seems entirely unbelievable. Their captors, whom they greatly outnumber, are perpetually drunk, lazy, without any major weaponry, and OLD, for the most part. Surely these shipwrecked slaves would have done more to defend themselves and/or try to escape, especially once 'help' arrived. I kept waiting for them to make a difference, and they never did.
The snakes were totally weird and utterly unbelievable ...talk about melodrama! Urgh.
The huge plot twist at the end was unexpected, however, and not bad at all. It should leave me gasping for a sequel. Sadly, it doesn't.
This is not a bad book, and I'm not sorry I read it; rather, it's a frustrating book. As a bare outline, the plot works very well. It's the detail, lack of believable characters and melodrama that let this book down. If this was only this author's first draft, or if some other writer took the exact same story and re-wrote it in a way that the characters actually came to life and all events made perfect sense, you'd have a really cracking novel, well worth 5 stars and a place on anybody's bookshelf.