Staff Book Review: DEAD MAN’S CHEST

We love when an EPL staff member takes the time to review a book for us! Here is an audiobook review by custodian Henry Harris.

DEAD MAN’S CHEST [THE SEQUEL TO TREASURE ISLAND] by Roger L. Johnson

Dead mans chestDEAD MAN’S CHEST … begins with Long John Silver’s escape from the merchantman Hispaniola at Puerta Plata and culminates with the American Revolution more than a decade later. It describes in rich detail the unholy alliance between this softhearted cutthroat, his teenage nephew, David Noble, and Captain John Paul Jones. Together they work to retrieve a king’s ransom of Spanish Gold and jewels from a dead man’s chest.” –from the case description

As a pirate story it was fairly good, I never considered not finishing it as I have some books, but as a “Sequel to Treasure Island” it was a colossal failure.

If you enjoyed the movies SNEAKERS and the OCEAN’S trilogy (11, 12 & 13), with their style of a complicated plot that often seems to go wrong, but finally turns out as planned, DEAD MAN’S CHEST is a good 18th century version of that type of story.

I really enjoy TREASURE ISLAND by Robert Lewis Stevenson and have read or listened to it on audio four or five times. The characters are so well developed and are consistent throughout the story, and the story so well written that it easily takes you along as a stowaway.

Roger L. Johnson corrupted nearly all the characters he used from Treasure Island so that, without being called by name, they would be totally unrecognizable as the same people from that story. DEAD MAN’S CHEST would have gone along just fine without the supposed connections, except he would not have suckered me into reading it.

Long John Silver in TREASURE ISLAND is an enjoyable scoundrel, often likeable but never “softhearted,” only calculating and only ever looking out for himself.

Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Ben Gunn was a half-wit not capable of rational thought for very long, easily swayed, lost his share of the treasure within months of returning to England, and was put on as a laborer to take care of him because he could not be trusted with more treasure. Roger L. Johnson turns him into a wise adviser and trustworthy companion.

Jim Hawkins does a great deal of maturing in TREASURE ISLAND, but in DEAD MAN’S CHEST Johnson makes him more naïve, gullible, and simple than he was at the beginning of TREASURE ISLAND.

Robert Lewis Stevenson admitted to borrowing ideas from nearly 80 years of pirate and treasure hunting stories, but did not corrupt the characters from those works like Johnson has done to Stevenson’s.

As a story,  DEAD MAN’S CHEST was good – but 20 leagues below TREASURE ISLAND.

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