Title: Lord of the Flies
Author: William Golding
Genre: Classics/ Adventure/ Young Adult
First Publication date: 1954
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 novel about “the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart.”
Every time I write a review on a book that is considered ‘classic’ or the sort I’m afraid I am missing something or that, I don’t know, I’m not smart enough to understand the underlying message of the story. Or maybe, just maybe, the fact that some books are considered outstanding in their themes, characters or plots doesn’t make them any less boring to death.
Lord of the Flies was a major disappointment, to say the least. I’ve had parts of this book read to me in dictation exercises in High School and University and I’ve always been curious to read the whole thing. If they use it so much there must be something awesome in there, right? Maybe the prose, maybe the structure, maybe the plot.
Boy, was I wrong.
Well, mostly. The prose is fine. William Golding has a unique style and as long as there is no dialogue the prose is awesome – it creates vivid pictures and gives you so much to work with. But then again when it comes to conversations between the characters… boy, did I want to cut my eyes out. To be honest, I’m not sure he sucked at writing dialogue or it was just the characters that were dull and annoying. Maybe the second but we’ll get into that in a bit. Let’s focus on the plot for a bit.
Lord of the Flies is a story about a group of young British boys whose plane crashes on an uninhabited island. The survivors try to create a society of their own, their rules and hierarchy (until they are rescued) but that quickly falls apart and they divide and turn on each other. When you summarize it like this it sounds promising, to be honest, I am not sure what went wrong. I just felt that the author spent too much time describing mundane things like the boys having diarrhea from eating fruit or playing in the water and being children. Nothing much happened until the last few pages of the book. And don’t get me started on the ending – so abrupt, so ridiculous. They should have died, all of them.
My biggest issue were the characters. It has been awhile since I disliked every single character in a book. And it is not because they were children and their way of thinking is illogical or downright stupid – I’ve read other books with young heroes. It was just that every single one was annoying in their own way, they would have been annoying as adults too. Piggy was the worse, even worse than Jack who was a jackass on level 999. I can’t believe I was hoping for every single child in that book to die, especially right now that I am nine months pregnant as I write this review. Only Ralph had a chance to be liked, a meager one, but he was so passive and indecisive after being chosen Chief that I gave up on him.
The parts that were supposed to be suspenseful were simply dull for me (like meeting the beast in the night), the parts that were supposed to be scary (like Ralph being chased and running for his life) were just tedious. Maybe this is a book that has the point to impress with metaphors and symbolism. In that regard William Golding may have done his job well. But for me a book’s first job is to entertain or excite its reader – something that didn’t happen for me. I didn’t connect with the character or the plot and which is worse – a lot of questions remained unanswered. Like why the whole thing is called Lord of the Flies, or where did that one little kid from the beginning go and so on, and so on.
I’m giving it 2/5 rating and consider this generous. There is a tiny chance I’m super critical on the book because my hormones are all over the place but I would never punish myself again by reading it a second time.
What about you? What rating would you give? What are your thoughts and takes on Lord of the Flies?