Book Review: Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Published by Penguin Books on July 27, 1959 (originally published September 17, 1954)

Series: n/a

Genre(s): fiction, classics

Format & Length: e-book, 189

Source: library

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Purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate; this far from civilization the boys can do anything they want. Anything. They attempt to forge their own society, failing, however, in the face of terror, sin and evil. And as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far from reality as the hope of being rescued. Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies is perhaps our most memorable tale about “the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart.”

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I’ve been curious to read Lord of the Flies for years. For many, this is required reading in school but it never seemed to make the list of books I had to read. So I finally grabbed a digital copy from my library when it came available. And it was an interesting reading experience.

“If faces were different when lit from above or below—what was a face? What was anything?”

This book opens by dropping the reader right into an island where a planeful of boys have crashed and having to figure everything out right alongside them. This adds a sense of confusion, making it easy to empathize with the boys and their plight. As the characters develop and the plot evolves (or devolves, as it were), that closeness to the characters only adds to a sense of unease and foreboding. I found this hard to read, not because of poor writing (although a good amount felt dated), but because of how it explored such themes as civilization vs. savagery, group dynamics, and coming of age and figuring out who you are as an individual and how you fit into society.

Full of symbolism and allegory, Lord of the Flies was an intriguing and disturbing read. I can certainly appreciate what Golding was doing with this book but he really hammered his points in and I think one read was enough for me to last a lifetime.


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