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1001 Book Review: Kidnapped Robert Louis Stevenson


It’s been a while since we’ve reviewed a classic so today Book Worm and I are going back in time to review and old classic that happens to be on the 1001 list of books to read before you die: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. Next monday we’ll be posting our top ten list of books published in 2016. Keep reading to see what we thought of Kidnapped.

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
Published in: 1886
Reviewed by: Book Worm  and Jen
Find it here: Kidnapped

Synopsis from Amazon: Kidnapped is an historical fiction adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, written as a “boys’ novel” and first published in the magazine Young Folks from May to July 1886. The novel has attracted the praise and admiration of writers as diverse as Henry James, Jorge Luis Borges, and Hilary Mantel. A sequel, Catriona, was published in 1893. Kidnapped is set around 18th-century Scottish events, notably the “Appin Murder”, which occurred near Ballachulish in 1752 in the aftermath of the Jacobite rising of 1745; Many of the characters were real people, including one of the principals, Alan Breck Stewart. The political situation of the time is portrayed from multiple viewpoints, and the Scottish Highlanders are treated sympathetically.

Book Worm’s Thoughts: I have given this 4 stars based on my own enjoyment and on the fact that I am not the target audience. This book is all about the adventures of David, an orphan whose scheming uncle arranges for his kidnap onboard a ship bound for the Carolinas. Things take a dramatic turn when the ship hits a smaller boat and the survivor of this encounter, Alan, is bought onboard.

Alan and David form an unlikely alliance and end up on the run together through the Scottish highlands, escaping from Alan’s political enemies and aiming to outwit David’s uncle. During their journey the pair face many hardships and find their friendship tested to the limit, however they remain loyal to each other.

I really enjoyed the pure escapism of this novel. It is an adventure story and the action is pretty much constant. It did what a book should do — transport you to another time and place. It may be seen as a simple narrative, but I think that is a strength and not a weakness. I would recommend this to those who enjoy adventure stories and those who need some escape from the real world.

Jen’s Thoughts: Unlike Book Worm, I did not particularly enjoy this book but I gave it 3 stars because Stevenson is a good writer.  I’ve liked Stevenson’s other books but found myself yawning and eye-rolling fairly frequently during this novel. I had read this book as a child and remember enjoying it more back then.Unfortunately, this time around I found my mind wandering. I listened to the audio so that may have impacted my enjoyment. I found it rather simplistic and thought the plot fairly absurd. I didn’t feel emotionally invested in the fate of David and I felt annoyed at the somewhat meandering plot to finally get to the point where David returns to his uncle.

I do think it will appeal to readers who like classic adventure tales (not my favorite genre). It feels very much a masculine read and I think it will appeal more to male readers.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: Kidnapped

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? Who do you agree with? Did you find it an enjoyable adventure story or were you bored?

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tracy S #

    I read this when I was in junior high, and remember liking it. I prefer Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the first because I read it to my sons, and the second because it was so much more than a horror story. Stevenson was a master of creating characters and building excitement!


    December 6, 2016
  2. Ive been reading the other Stevenson classic, Treasure Island, and discovering there is a lot more to it than I realised when I read it as a child. The historical context is interesting – apparently both books were written at a time where there was widespread concern in the UK that boys were reading the wrong kind of material – stuff in the penny dreadful magazines that wasn’t going to prepare them to be the leaders of the British Empire. Stevenson’s books were more acceptable yet still had the adventurous element that boys loved …..


    December 12, 2016
  3. love gami #

    this story is marvelous and even knowledgeable.


    December 31, 2016

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