Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Coral Island” as Want to Read:
The Coral Island
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Coral Island

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  2,444 Ratings  ·  165 Reviews
Fifteen-year-old Ralph, mischievous young Peterkin and clever, brave Jack are shipwrecked on a coral reef with only a telescope and a broken pocketknife between them. At first the island seems a paradise, with its plentiful foods and wealth of natural wonders. But then a party of cannibals arrives, and after that a pirate ship...what is to become of them?
Hardcover, 398 pages
Published 2007 by Vision Forum (first published 1857)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Coral Island, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Suman Vasireddy I would suggest someone in the age group of 12-17 years.
Lord of the Flies by William GoldingTreasure Island by Robert Louis StevensonRobinson Crusoe by Daniel DefoeLife of Pi by Yann MartelIsland of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
Desert Islands
19th out of 115 books — 119 voters
Jane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëWuthering Heights by Emily BrontëThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeDracula by Bram StokerGreat Expectations by Charles Dickens
Victorian novels
97th out of 209 books — 365 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Petra X
May 05, 2015 Petra X rated it it was amazing
I went to primary school at four and a half, into Mrs. Whitcombe's class. Everything was miniature, including Mrs. Whitcombe who was a little person. We sat on our little chairs at our little desks and got out our little books. Janet and John. It was quite glorious except that I had read the whole year's Janet and John primers by morning break (a very little bottle of milk and a digestive biscuit).

The only other books in the classroom were Treasure Island, Swiss Family Robinson and Coral Island
Carolee Wheeler
So let me get this straight.

You're a teenage sailor, shipwrecked with 2 buddies on a pacific island. You get along pretty well, and are fairly happy with your lot there, but one day you see a big ship arrive and you flag it down, but O NOES it's Pirates. The pirate ship captures one of you, and sails away with you, and you are treated to all sorts of horrors including cannibalism. Nobody is any good except this one other guy, and then one day you have a chance to fool all the bad guys and you do
Nov 22, 2011 Rohan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's always tricky assessing Victorian youth fiction in the light of our current postcolonial period, and all of the necessary revaluations that has entailed. The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific does have some horrendously condescending views upon the age-old moral dichotomy of 'savagery v. civility'. However, R.M. Ballantyne is a relatively unusual author for his period. Edinburgh-born Ballantyne clearly had a strongly evangelical Protestant morality, but this was also tempered with a ...more
Rick Silva
Jun 23, 2014 Rick Silva rated it liked it
I don't tend to reread very many books, but this was one that I loved when I read it (as a pre-teen). I decided to try reading it to my son in chapters.

First half was great. Classic adventure story with three teenaged boys shipwrecked on the iconic deserted island in the South Pacific. Their story of survival together is perhaps a bit overly optimistic, but it's still great fun.

When the book moves into its second act, and pirates and Pacific Islander natives become involved, it takes a turn into
Lauren Fidler
man, i love adventure stories.

it's fascinating to reread this one after reading Lord of the, our narrator is Ralph, his dad is in the navy, and he is shipwrecked on an island with two wise, true friends, Peterkin and Jack.

yes, Jack.

Jack is elected captain, he espouses the importance of reading books, and is measured a philosopher by the wily Peterkin.

there are pig hunts (a sow is killed), an angry savage marked with red and white paint attacks, and Jack gets described as being shar
Apr 08, 2010 Joey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction
This adventure novel is perhaps Ballantyne's best work. With R.M. Ballantyne being a Christian (Presbyterian) this novel is explicitly so. It is a tale of three lads, Ralph, Peterkin, and Jack, who get isolated on the Coral Island after their ship is wrecked and they the sole survivors. They must struggle to make their way and survive in this island. They learn to hunt, fish, and get their own food. Their friendship grows stronger.

It all seems like they are the only ones on this island until one
Aug 17, 2011 Naomi rated it really liked it
It's a nice book about three boys who were shipwrecked on a Pacific island. It's a wonderful coral island. I liked very much the descriptions about the island, the trees, the valleys, the mountain and some specific sights which were named by the three boy: the Water Garden, The Diamond Cave and the Spouting Cliff. I just imagined myself in this wonderful paradise. It's a very nice story although I don't liked so much that part of the book when Ralph is taken by I pirate schooner and they go to ...more

opening Roving has always been, and still is, my ruling passion, the joy of my heart, the very sunshine of my existence. In childhood, in boyhood, and in man's estate, I have been a rover; not a mere rambler among the woody glens and upon the hill-tops of my own native land, but an enthusiastic rover throughout the length and breadth of the wide wide world.
Deborah Pickstone
A re-read of a childhood favourite. Somehow, children's lit from that era never reads as 'childish'. Still enjoyable for an adult.
Jun 02, 2012 Michelle rated it it was amazing
NOT a waste of time. Fist Ballantyne book I read - at my little brother's recommendation. My little bro did not let me down. :)
Pramod Nair
Mar 12, 2015 Pramod Nair rated it really liked it
I still remember the glow i felt as an eleven year old boy while i sat mesmerized reading this tale of wonderful adventure. A Classic!
Jul 07, 2015 Enoch rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite book right now. I love stories about the sea and ships. Each chapter is filled with adventure and new words and ideas I haven't thought of before.
David Brown
Mar 14, 2012 David Brown rated it really liked it
I’ve always wanted to write a story to do with a shipwreck and a desert island. A tried and tested formula you would argue and I would agree with you. I still harbour thoughts of this type of story but not until I’ve come up with something a bit different which may never happen. R M Ballantyne’s The Coral Island is your traditional shipwrecked sailors on a remote island with many exciting adventures thrown into the mix.

The novel focuses on three teenagers – Ralph Rover, Jack Martin and Peterkin
Jun 07, 2009 Adrienne rated it liked it
Shelves: book-count-08
It’s interesting to read books that were written a long time ago; the writing style is so obviously different from what is produced today, that it’s no wonder people sometimes have a tough time getting into an older novel. While I didn’t have a hard time getting in to R.M. Ballantyne’s The Coral Island, the writing style was pretty different and a little preachy by the end.

Ralph, Jack and Peterkin (yes, really) are ship’s boys on a British sailing vessel when they are marooned on an island in th
Evanston Public  Library
Plucky British schoolboys, two of them named Ralph and Jack, are stranded on a deserted island. Sounds like William Golding's Lord of the Flies. But no, this is the nineteenth-century juvenile adventure story that prompted Golding, who had enjoyed The Coral Island as a child, to pen his classic dystopian novel a century later. "Ballantyne's book rotted to compost in my mind," Golding said, "and a new myth put down roots." Ballantyne's boys confront evil but never descend to evil themselves. They ...more
Jan 21, 2015 Brent rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
This book is mentioned briefly in Lord Of The Flies, which is why I investigated it to begin with. Then I discovered that Lord Of The Flies was written as a kind of response to this book. Make of that what you will. I thought this was a great read in its on right. Written as an adventure book for kids this was thoroughly entertaining, and quite educational.
Jan 10, 2015 Penny rated it really liked it
Great Boy's Own style adventure - the British lad wins out against all unpleasantness and low behaviour!
Also useful hints on how to survive if you ever get stuck on a coral island.
Warning - must be read with 19th Briitsh Empire goggles firmly in place.
Sanju Sunny
Dec 18, 2012 Sanju Sunny rated it it was amazing
5 stars because this book played a huge part in my childhood. I've still got an old battered copy somewhere in the attic, time to dig it up!
Christopher Newton
I must admit I got into this crazy mid-Victorian jingoistic evangelical boy's adventure story.
Oct 06, 2009 Carmon rated it really liked it
Reading to my boys, the second time through doing that (the first time was almost 20 years ago!)
Allison Tebo
Nov 16, 2016 Allison Tebo rated it it was amazing
A wonderful, ripsnorting adventure with great characters, wonderful descriptions and plenty of action. Peterkin is a hoot and Jack is a wonderful, noble young man and Ralph is a terrific narrator. There aren't many stories that could make a story of three young men trapped on an island...but with great prose and great writing this book nails the scenario and makes it fresh.

Content: A fair amount of violence/gore, specifically involving cannibalism. It's been a while since I last read this and t
Nov 20, 2016 Chelsea rated it it was ok
This first half of this book was really boring. Three boys get shipwrecked on an island, and they go into all the details of their lives of finding food and exploring the island and such. No plot progression at all. The second half was somewhat better, but I would have written the ending differently. And all of it is not believable.

Plus this book is old and the writing style is not "capital," as they'd say in the book. So it's not the easiest to read. Go read Castaway for a shipwreck island boo
Samara Tinni
Nov 26, 2016 Samara Tinni rated it it was amazing
To me this book is a nostalgia! I was 11/12 years old when I first read it... it took me to a world of adventure and excitement that I felt as real! It's been nearly 20 years and I still feel the same!
Oct 16, 2016 Quinnharley rated it liked it
(3.5 stars) I love reading classic children's books especially adventures that occur outdoors in nature. I like how different the language is from today's children's books. Sure there are some dated views and some corny parts but I found it pretty entertaining. I was fascinated when I read that "It was the inspiration for William Golding's dystopian novel Lord of the Flies (1954), which inverted the morality of The Coral Island; in Ballantyne's story the children encounter evil, but in Lord of ...more
Inken Purvis
Oct 07, 2016 Inken Purvis rated it really liked it
I actually read this book when I was a little girl and thoroughly enjoyed it. RM Ballantyne is a sadly neglected writer these days, altho he was extremely prolific in his day, writing close to 100 books, most of which are considered YA novels today.

Coral Island is enormous fun to read. A boys' own adventure set in the time of British exploration and (it must be admitted) colonisation. Three teenage boys are marooned on a seemingly idyllic coral atoll in the south Pacific and figure out how to s
The Coral Island by R.M Ballantyne is a wholesomely humorous "boys' adventure" style0novel from 1857. Ralph, Jack and Peterkin are three plucky, pious, absurdly well-prepared young sailors who wash up on a deserted Pacific island. They explore, make shelter, find food, battle sharks, storms, tidal waves, pirates, cannibals, while making innocent quips. They also become accomplished boatbuilders, hunters, butchers, naturalists, carpenters, shoemakers, and ropemakers. Eventually they escape to ...more
Not entirely what I expected (though I guess I'm not sure what I did expect, this is my first Ballantyne book).

Began rather leisurely with three boys being shipwrecked and having a lot of fun on their new, gorgeous, uninhabited by savage man or animal island home. Very mild, rather Eden-like, they have everything they need; lots of food, warm water to play in, neat places to explore, challenges to surpass (building a boat), and best of all, good friends to do it all with. I wondered if the book
May 29, 2014 Micaiah rated it it was amazing
The Coral Island
Ages: 12 and up

The Coral Island was truly a masterpiece. I now understand why it was one of the most well-loved Ballantyne books of its time and even today. The characters were impeccable. I fell in love with them immediately. The storyline was fascinating and well-written. All around, it was fantastic.

Another add to this wonderful book is the Gospel message that R.M. Ballantyne skillfully wove throughout the novel and the character’s lives (Ralph’s in particular).

It was a rivet
Written in 1858, when the Empire was still at its height and a few years before the American Civil War, Scottish writer, R.M.Ballantyne wrote what appears to be one of the first novels for children (try not to think of children in its modern conception) which featured only teenagers (or young adults). It is, without doubt, very much of its time and could not be read seriously within the classroom setting. It could, perhaps, we read and analysed as a cultural artifact and as a lens from which to ...more
May 05, 2014 Alicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Found on the thrift shop bookshelf, this is a great adventure book for boys, written in Scotland in 1858. It’s a mix between Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson. Three teenage boys are marooned on a South Pacific island where they encounter sharks, storms, pirates, and cannibals. 12-year-old Josh and I enjoyed reading this adventure story together. However, I wouldn’t recommend the book for younger children, because cannibals can be (and were) brutally violent. According to Wikipedia, “It ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Valancourt Books: The Coral Island (1857) by R.M. Ballantyne 5 12 Sep 03, 2015 02:58PM  
Marvelous 4 19 Dec 18, 2014 07:44AM  
  • Tom Brown's Schooldays
  • The Children of the New Forest
  • Kidnapped and Catriona
  • With Lee in Virginia
  • Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers
  • Jock of the Bushveld
  • Le Capitaine Fracasse
  • Nobody's Family Is Going to Change
  • The Otterbury Incident
  • The Ghost Drum (Ghost World, #1)
  • Foxspell
  • Dieu, le sexe et les bretelles (Titeuf, #1)
  • Memorias de una vaca
  • Biggles The Camels Are Coming
R. M. Ballantyne was a Scottish writer of juvenile fiction.

Born Robert Michael Ballantyne in Edinburgh, he was part of a famous family of printers and publishers. At the age of 16 he went to Canada and where he served for six years with the Hudson's Bay Company. He returned to Scotland in 1847, and published his first book the following year, Hudson's Bay: orLife in the Wilds of North America. For
More about R.M. Ballantyne...

Share This Book

“Cat," said Peterkin, turning his head a little on one side, "I love you.” 4 likes
“and I have always found, though I am unable to account for it, that daylight banishes many of the fears that are apt to assail us in the dark.” 4 likes
More quotes…