If you haven’t read this review it contains spoilers
Lord of the Flies was built up to me as a must read. An essential to own, a classic of it’s time. Many people have put this book on the status of a classic including peers such as Kingsley Amis who calls the book ‘terrifying and haunting’. The book was written by Sir William Golding and was published in 1954 by Faber and Faber Limited. It has twice been made into a movie, once in 1963 and a reboot in 1990, there are multiple stage adaptations including the ‘Cliff Notes’ version.
Upon reading however I found that the experience of reading it was a bit of a let down. At first we are introduced to a group of boys who are stranded on an island due to a plane crash, I find it strange how all the adults are dead, but the boys are not only unscathed but are seemingly unaffected by the events preceding those in the book.
The characters we are introduced to provided a slight high point for a book that is otherwise lacking “Ralph” is a stereotyped popular 12 year old male with little to no inperfections, the other major character here is “Piggy” a shorter tubbier individual who suffers from athsma and wears glasses, a contrast in the characters which is very necessary in a novel like this. To present the characters as individual’s which provides some justification for their contrasting opinions and personalities which ultimately leads to dispute within the book.
The concept of the book is simple and promising but does not deliver. The concept of the novel is to show how without order everything would descend into chaos. This however does not feel a gradual process and seems to be rushed , one moment they wouldn’t kill a pig the next they are massacring groups of pigs, one moment a group wants to be rescued the next they want to remain on the island forever. The novel is supposed to take place over a number of weeks but instead it feels like it is taking place over a few days. This was due to the sudden changes in morale and objectives within the boys leading to a feeling that these boys have just descended into madness overnight.
The Introduction of the Lord of the Flies, is a moment that could be highlighted as one of the best, yet pointless parts of the novel, It shows a descent into madness within the island. But there is a grey area with the death of Simon, was he murdered or did he just die, either way the death of Simon feels meaningless and seems like an excuse to kill someone in the book and not explain why, or why the others seem so oblivious to his death.
On the subject of death, the two deaths in this novel Simon and Piggy, could be a chance to showcase the madness the boys have descended into, however Ralph seems to react calmly despite being portrayed as the only sane one remaining and in a way this cheapens the use of death within this Novel, it gives an attitude of this happens everyday to the deaths, which had potential to show real turning points within the boys, especially the leader of the savage gang Jack Merridew.
There is also the theme of madness which reoccurs throughout the book, it takes on the form of the beast. I am afraid that this was also a prospect for the book that started well, the beast started as a nightmare that the younger boys believed was real but the older boys did not, over time the older boys become convinced by the idea of the beast, and go searching for it, that is where the good part ends as they actually find the beast (albeit a figment of their madness) which in a way destroys the idea of the beast being a threat as when they find it, that is the last we hear about the beast as they choose to leave it alone.
Finally there was the ending, after a long and quite frankly superhuman effort to evade the savage tribe from Ralph, who somehow managed to evade what I counted as anywhere from 8-10 members of the savage gang, a ship turns up to save the boys and an officer saves the boys who realise what has happened and go home as if Ralph wasn’t being hunted a matter of moments before. A clichéd lacklustre 4/10 finish which once again could have been phenomenal.
Overall, the book is one of the best in terms of it’s potential but the delivery is lacklustre, and therefore not deserving of its status of a classic of it’s time 5/10 at the most is what I would give this book.
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