Although Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer has long been considered a literary classic, the plot, themes and characters have been done time and time again to the point of becoming cliché. Yes, most of the books which use the same story elements were written after Tom Sawyer, but there were very few parts of the novel that were interesting or even surprising. The characters are done to death, the story isn’t very coherent and the themes are now very cliché. This review will go into further detail about why I believe the things I have stated.
The characters in Tom Sawyer were interesting at some point, but I have seen the same kind of characters in so many other stories. It’s because of these other stories that Tom Sawyer fails to make an impact on me. Of course you have Tom Sawyer, the daring boy who loves adventure. He fakes his death, seeks out treasure and runs through caves. At his side we have Huckleberry Finn, the neighborhood bad boy whom Tom looks up to. The story also has a cast of many rather forgettable characters, such as Tom’s crush Becky, his Aunt Polly and criminal Injun Joe. Although there are some redeeming factors in the characters, there are next to none in the story.
Tom Sawyer has some very good themes. Some of the key themes include maturity, freedom vs. society, superstition and most importantly, transitioning between childhood and adulthood. At the beginning of the book, Tom is young, reckless and cares only for himself. As the book progresses, he faces obstacles which require him to mature and grow as a person. He must put others before himself and realize that society is important. The novels final act has Tom and Becky trapped in a cave, which they must escape. This cave represents the path to adulthood, and marks the end of Tom’s journey. Superstition also plays an important park in the book, as most of Tom’s decisions are based on superstition. The book has themes which are just as important today as they were in 1876.
If you enjoy adventure books that have a lot of small stories within them, you might like Tom Sawyer. Otherwise stay away. The characters are for the most part bland and forgettable and the story in a messy piece of work. The themes are good, although not good enough to make this book worth your time. Maybe it’s the failure to connect with a modern audience, maybe the story’s traits that have been done time and time again. Something made this book just not do it for me. Over all I give Tom Sawyer a 6/10.