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Treasure Island!!!

3.29  ·  Rating details ·  1,822 ratings  ·  449 reviews
When a college graduate with a history of hapless jobs (ice cream scooper; gift wrapper; laziest ever part-time clerk at The Pet Library) reads Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island, she is dumbstruck by the timid design of her life. When had she ever dreamed a scheme? When had she ever done a foolish, overbold act? When had she ever, like Jim Hawkins, broke from ...more
Paperback, 172 pages
Published December 7th 2011 by Europa Editions
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Clifton Bencke Probably it would be best. However, I found the book very depressing.

(SPOILER) because I expect the character(s) we meet to grow. And this girl just…more
Probably it would be best. However, I found the book very depressing.

(SPOILER) because I expect the character(s) we meet to grow. And this girl just gets worse and worse.(less)

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3.29  · 
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 ·  1,822 ratings  ·  449 reviews

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Paul Bryant
Aug 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Can’t wait for Sara Levine’s follow up. Will it be Bleak House!!! or maybe A La Recherche du Temps Perdu!!!....

One thing I figured out immediately, having recently failed to finish The Shipping Gnus by E Annie Proulx – the one that won the Pulitzer - Treasure Island!!! is clearly not literature because I had such a good time reading it and I finished it in two days. Sorry, Sara.

Well all right, it was kinda like a 172 page long standup comedy routine, say for instance Julia Sweeney’s long perfor
Mar 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
In theory, I should like this book. In reality, it reads like a series of real-life episodes of Alvin and the Chipmunks, with a horrifically unlikeable narrator blundering forward into scheme upon wacky scheme, each of which are apparently intended as farcical comedy, but which instead crumble into one huge cumulative sad mess.

I think the real keyword here is "unlikeable." The narrator--first-person, so there's no escape--is completely unlikeable. She has no redeeming qualities. Her actions are
Dec 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
I think this little book is a burst of brilliance, but I honestly wonder how comic I'm supposed to find it. The reviews I've read all say things like WITTY, IRREVERENT, HILARIOUS!!! but I don't think this recognizes the depths of the comedy's darkness. The narrator distills Treasure Island down to a set of "Core Values"—BOLDNESS, RESOLUTION, INDEPENDENCE, HORN-BLOWING—and proceeds to demonstrate how a particular cultural ideal of "motivated selfhood" is actually, quite clearly, a form of sociopa ...more
Feb 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2013
Here's a text conversation I had with my friend Megan:

M: Have you read Treasure Island!!! by Sarah Levine?
O: No! What is it?
M: Um, a book. You may like it.
O: Ha, okay.

[Megan brings me the book, which I dutifully add to my terrifyingly high, teetering to-read stack. A month passes. I read this and that and the other, and then I pick this up.]

O: Holy fuck, why didn't you tell me this book was endorsed by both Adam Levin and Aimee Bender??????
M: Um, because I don't know who they are.
Ok, I was definitely along for the ride as this wacky, 20-something girl decides to base her life choices on the tenets she's extrapolated from her obsessive readings of Treasure Island. These beliefs are 1)boldness, 2) resolution, 3)independence, and 4)horn-blowing. Horn-blowing is my favorite! I was right there with her until the unfortunate incident with Little Richard. She lost me as a cheerleader after this. I was done with her long before her family decided to have an intervention.

Great i
Jun 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rumpus
This book is a hoot--its own unique little thing but with echoes of Sarah Bird and Lydia Millet shining through its pages. Our narrator starts as a fairly harmless narcissist and progresses to a dangerous sociopath, all because of her addiction to the Robert Louis Stevenson novel, "Treasure Island." One of the funniest moments of the book is when a fellow, well-intentioned character hints that Jim Hawkins may not be the heart of the book as our main character proposes but instead the book might ...more
May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a strange book, and it evoked a strange response for me. First of all, I'm not sure whether or not I liked the book. The first chapters did not impress me and in fact I did not think that my review would be more than two stars. However, as I read the book grew on me.

I began the story, of course, finding our narrator to be a self-absorbed, vain idiot. And moreover, I didn't find her likeable as a protagonist, I wasn't rooting for her. I was hoping that something really terrible would happ
Dec 31, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: rumpus-books
This book was a disappointment to me. I hated the protagonist who started out sort of quirky, then moved on to mildly annoying, finishing out dreadful, and unbelievable. The story kept getting more and more impossible and hard to believe--why did this narrator have any friends? Does anyone without some sort of mental illness actually behave this way? I admit that the premise was interesting, for a while, but the book felt more like an experiment that went on for about 100 pages too long.

At the b
Dec 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
A gift from kfan. THANK YOU.

This is a case where skimming some GoodReads reviews before I really got rolling on this actually helped my overall opinion of this book. I had this heads-up situation where people were feeling like the narrator was blithely unlikable, and crazy, and mean, and since those are all things that are likely to put me off a book, I went in trying to work against my own prejudice. Because if you really want to talk about it, I don't actually think a protagonist has to be li
Patrick Brown
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2012
The funniest book I've read this year, and a criminally underrated novel. The narrator, a nameless young woman, finds inspiration in the classic novel Treasure Island. She decides to use the book as a blueprint, a template for how to be a different sort of person. Drawing from Jim Hawkins' four core principles -- boldness, resolution, independence, and horn-blowing -- she sets out to remake herself. But what she succeeds in doing is unmaking her life. She essentially steals money from her employ ...more
Kevin Fanning
Dec 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
SO GOOD. I steadfastly refuse to get dragged into conversations about whether narrators need to be likable, but I will say that this is the most likable narrator in a long while, in my opinion. Read into that whatever you like. Hilarious and sharp and full of heart, even if you have to sometimes elbow our bold hero out of the way to to see it. Who is this author. Why doesn't she have more novels.
Gemma collins
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was one of the few books I have read where as soon as I finished it I wanted to see whether other people had read it and what they thought of it. It definitely stirred a lot of feelings in me and it seems to have in other people, either it is a loathing or a real like.
I can't say either way really but that I do think this book has an extraordinarily unique voice and is certainly the most original contemporary fiction I have read in a while.
The protagonist is a little like Ignatius J Reilly
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Mar 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Don’t take anything in this book at face value; it’s all a farce of the highest order.

Either that or our main character and heroine is the most self-centered, obnoxious, hard-to-get-along-with human being on the planet. With family and friends who are not far down the path themselves.

This has to be one of the oddest books I’ve ever read.

Yes, odder than 1Q84. At least that book was set in an alternate universe.

Not so this story, with a main character who works at a pet library, who reads Treasur
Natasha Zaretsky
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved this novel and have added three exclamation points to the end of this sentence as a paean to the author!!! Wholly originally, mordantly funny, and wonderfully deranged, it tells the story of a twenty-five year old woman who--frustrated by her own ostensible aimlessness--haps upon Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island and decides that the boy adventure story holds the key to her own self-improvement. Determined to turn a new page and live by the book's core values of boldness, independ ...more
Dec 02, 2011 rated it liked it
This is about an obsession with a book that goes wayyyyyyy to far. The "heroine" of the book (who never gives us her name), a 25 year old just drifting about without any sort of ambition but a history of crappy jobs, gets goaded into reading Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island". She gets swept up in the sense of adventure and decides to live her own life based on what she deems are the "Core Values" of the book: Boldness, Resolution, Independence and Horn-Blowing. And so her own adventure ...more
(view spoiler) ...more
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Finally, a modern woman narrator as unreliable as Jim (or Silver) himself!

This was hugely fun, although if you are the sort of person who needs to really root for a lead character...this will not be the book for you. I was just happy it justified my having reread the original TI as an adult for more reasons than Black Sails.

(Though don't get me wrong: Black Sails is well worth rereading a book for.)
Rick (from Another Book Vlog)
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Treasure Island!!! is a book a person should reserve judging until they’ve read to the bitter very end. My opinion wavered back and forth several times over the course of its 177 pages, but by the time I had finished I realized that author Sara Levine had done something really calculated and unique. Everything in this novel is calculated, right down to its holy-shit-this-character-is-annoying protagonist. There’s a method to the madness.

Narrated by one of the most charismatically irritating char
Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
Like the anti-heroine of this grating satiric novel, I rediscovered the classic adventure Treasure Island as an adult, and found it hugely enjoyable. However, unlike the incredibly irritating, selfish, and possibly insane 25-year-old narrator, I did not convert it into a manifesto for personal growth. Working a strange, dead-end job in a pet rental store, and drifting in an amicable but mild relationship with her boyfriend, the unnamed narrator distills the classic adventure tale into four "Core ...more
I'm really torn over this book. On the one hand, I thought the writing was good and really evoked the main character and her emotional state and thought process throughout. But, on the other hand, the story, which felt like it had great potential, was not really enjoyable and was actually quite disturbing, especially with such an unpleasant main character.

Reading the summary on the book cover, I thought that the book's premise was not only interesting but had great potential. Unfortunately, the
Oct 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
I’m a big fan of novels with lovably unlikeable protagonists, and Treasure Island!!! has that in spades. Or in sails, maybe. As infuriating as Levine’s anti-heroine is as she wrecks the lives of everyone around her through attempts to follow the “Core Values” of Stevenson’s Treasure Island, the humor and humanity of the story — not to mention some very sharp questions it raises about gender roles, literature, community, and ambition — make it far more fun to read this nameless narrator’s days th ...more
This is a tricky book. I initially heard about it on NPR during one of Nancy Pearl's pieces. I really enjoyed it, but I think if I had read it any earlier I would have absolutely hated it. The narrator is so self-absorbed, but her obsession with Treasure Island is absolutely hysterical. I started the book when I was really angry and disengaged with my job and it was so absurd that it completely hit the spot. I want to recommend it a lot, but it's definitely not for everybody.

Also it was really d
Vincent Scarpa
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A viciously funny book, and at its heart also a book about the desperate need to believe there’s a right way to go about life; a quest for a framework which purports to be self-empowering but is in essence a disavowal of autonomy. It is a kind of liberation for the narrator, her obsession with the dogmatic appeal of Treasure Island, because it feels like an active choice, like a thrown rope in a life of stagnancy. And there’s nothing especially funny about that. So what this book’s real achievem ...more
Dec 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a quirkily fun little book. Though the narrator occasionally disgusted me, she was a fascinating character to listen to. Some unreliable narrators generate tension for the reader because you have to constantly question their reliability. This one, not so much. You know she is a self-centered, deluded little fool the whole time. There is never any question. However, that in and of itself creates a different kind of tension. The book is funny and provoking, definitely one of a kind.
Full of elements I typically love - an abhorrent main character, literary obsession, deadpan snarkiness, oblivious narcissism - but it overshoots the quirkiness quite a bit at the end. If I hadn't also read The Disaster Artist in 2018, this would be the funniest book I'll read all year. The thing is that Tommy Wiseau is real, whereas the narrator of Treasure Island!!! is a well-constructed figment. Interested to see what Sara Levine writes next.
Lisa E.
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
After seeing a pre-pub synopsis of this book I couldn't wait to read it. Once I started, I couldn't wait for it to be over. This was simply an unfunny, excruciating root canal of a book with the world's least likeable protagonist ever. I desperately wanted her to get some sort of comeuppance, jail time, maybe just a swift kick in the pants to set her in the right direction but in the end there isn't even that small redemption.
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels, 2012
This is the second book I've read this year in which the protagonist is so utterly unlikable that it undermines the pleasure of reading the book. (The first was Confederacy of Dunces). I still enjoyed it, because the writing is clean and often very funny, but I would have enjoyed it more if the narrator had been just a little more sympathetic.
Jun 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
This sounded like such a great idea, but for me it turned out to be an example of how hard it is to do farce or comedy well. I found the main character to be so self absorbed and mean spirited that I couldn't find the humor. I'm not even sure why I bothered to finish it. I don't recommend this book at all.
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I absolutely adored this book: it's a funny and swift read, and the narrator is wonderfully unlikeable and bonkers. Sometimes the premise is a touch thin but that didn't lessen my enjoyment of this irreverent and plucky novel. Read it!
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Sara Levine is the author of the novel Treasure Island!!! and the short story collection Short Dark Oracles.

Essays can be found in various magazines and in the following anthologies: The Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: 1970-Present; Understanding the Essay; Essayists on the Essay: Montaigne to Our Time; A Best of Fence: The First Nine Years.

She co-edited and wrote the in
“If life were a sea adventure, I knew: I wouldn't be sailor, pirate, or cabin boy but more likely a barnacle clinging to the side of the boat.” 3 likes
“Grief is a wound that needs attention in order to heal. We can have pancakes.” 3 likes
More quotes…