Friday, August 14, 2009

Review: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Title: Lord of the Flies
Author: William Golding
Publisher: Riverhead Trade
Publication Date: This Edition: August 1997; Originally: 1954
Genre: Fiction, Dystopian

Summary (from back of book): Lord of the Flies is an adventure tale in its purest form, a thrilling and elegantly told account of a group of British schoolboys marooned on a tropical island. Alone in a world of uncharted possibilities, devoid of adult supervision or rules, the boys begin to forge their own society, their own rules, their own rituals. With this seemingly romantic premise, through the seemingly innocent acts of children, Golding exposes the duality of human nature itself - the dark, eternal divide between order and chaos, intellect and instinct, structure and savagery. The book's terrifying escalation of violence seems as inevitable as it is chilling. It engrosses, it challenges, and it reveals.

Review: This is one of those books that, once you read it you wonder why the heck you hadn't read it sooner. I had certainly heard of The Lord of the Flies - my brother actually had a beat up copy in high school that I'm not sure he ever read.

To put it succinctly, this starts out as an amazing tale of adventure that evolves into so much more than I imagined. It's fascinating to follow along with the group of boys who are stranded on an unknown island and what they go through while trying to survive. It really made me think about what I would do at that age in a similar situation - being young, no adults to tell you what to do, scary things in the forest that keep you awake at night, and deciding who is going to take the role of leader...and whether or not you'll listen to him.

And then there is the dissent and the violence. It is chilling. There were parts where I was reading and almost holding my breath because I felt like I was in the shoes of the character, terrified about what could happen next. Almost as if I were watching all the events unfold right in front of me.

In the words of Golding himself, "the theme is an attempt to trace the defect of society back to the defect of human nature."

If you are like me and have apparently been living under a rock all these years not having read this book, add it to your wishlist. In my opinion it is definitely worth it.


  1. This is probably one of those books that's in a list called something like "must-read books in your lifetime." I read this one in high school, well, at least a good part of it (then I just waited to hear the discussions in class to get filled in). XP I know I know, I sort of cheated...

    I didn't like it, but this book packs quite the message. =) Did you see the movie for it though? I think there's a movie adaptation of Lord of the Flies.

  2. I read this one way back at the dawn of time (also known as eighth grade) and found it incredibly powerful then. Now that I am creeping up on ::cough 40 cough::, I occasionally think about re-reading it. But I can't stomach it given the image I still carry with me of Piggie's glasses in the surf.

  3. Linda Ellen - As much as I hate to admit it, I've occasionally found some of my high school reading so atrocious I couldn't get through it - most notably, Macbeth. I tried to read it 3 separate times and could never get through the whole thing.

    I didn't realize there was a movie!! I'm going to have to see if the Library has it. I'd be interesting to see how the whole thing translates on screen.

    Kristen - Yeah, much of the book - particularly towards the end - that made a lasting impression on me were also not the most pleasant aspects of the story. (Piggy's specs!) Probably not something I'll re-read for a long time, but it certainly leaves an impression regardless of when it's read.

  4. This sounds really good! I'd heard of it back then but never really was interested. But again, I never knew what it was about either.

    I have to admit I only partially read all the books I was supposed to read in high school. I just hate HAVING to read something, but I'll read a million books of my choosing!

    I also just wanted to add in case I haven't said it before that I love the layout of your blog! It's so pretty and peaceful if that makes any sense, lol