Book Review: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Rating:  ★★★

Lord of the Flies is an example of what might happen when boys are isolated without adult supervision for an extended period of time.  I read the deluxe edition in which Stephen King wrote a wonderful intro.  The book’s influence on King, one of my favorite authors, was obvious right from the beginning.  Their styles and the element of supernatural happenings all felt incredibly familiar (in a good way).

I can also see how this book inspired the many other fantasy dystopians that came later.  It felt like a prototype for The Hunger Games and Red Rising.  What happens when we are reduced to our basest selves?  Who do we become?  What is necessary for group survival?  Would you change yourself to become a part of that group and what does it say about you?

There is a lot of ominous foreshadowing, and the symbolism goes on for days, but in the end, I just wasn’t all that entertained or even shocked by it.  It gets off to a very slow start, with nothing really terrible happening until halfway through.  And then when things start happening, they really aren’t all that shocking.

I’m sure it was shocking in 1954.  But that’s where the book dates itself.  If you’ve read anything by Stephen King.. there’s really not much to see here.  I don’t want to say it’s not graphic, because it is, but Golding also manages to dance wonderfully around specific actions.  There’s no doubt in your mind about what’s happening, but the how of it is vague.  For example the scene with the mother pig… I had to read in one of the essays at the back what Golding was trying to tell me.  I knew what was happening- the boys were killing her with their spears- but not where the spears were going.

I just think scenes like that are more powerful when they’re direct.  Make me cringe, make me look away, force me to put the book down for a few minutes because I need a break.  Instead, I kind of shrugged, said “poor momma piggie” and moved on with my day.  The essay at that back?  Yeah, that made me cringe.

Anyway- I’m glad I read it, and I didn’t find it to be a difficult read at all (which I always worry about with classics).  But if Lord of the Flies is not something that interests you for its literary importance, it’s pretty safe to skip.  It’s been done better in more recent years.  If you do decide to pick it up- I highly recommend the deluxe edition.  I got a lot more out of it with the intros and extra texts.

Lord of the Flies can be found on GoodReads and Amazon.

35 thoughts on “Book Review: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

  1. Fantastic review!
    I think I’ll still pick this one up, thought I’m definitely going to look for this specific edition. I find that a lot of older books do shy away from being direct when it comes to graphic scenes. I guess it’s just a sign of the times, but wouldn’t it be nice had they not danced around it like you said.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Nadine! I don’t think it’s bad by any means- and it’s relatively quick so worth checking out! Definitely go with the deluxe if you can find it- I enjoyed the essays and Stephen King’s intro.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read this book a long time ago for school and wasn’t a big fan but maybe if I read it again – now I’m a little older and have read a LOT more books! – I might like it more?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s possible! I know for me in school there was no surer way to get me to dislike a book than by forcing me to read it.

      That being said I would think an adult would maybe appreciate it more, but it would be more exciting for a teen to read because they may have had less exposure to this set up than an adult.

      Then again some teens read much more than I do, so what do I know?! Lol

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is definitely tame when compared to books like this that came out in the last decade. I think there are much better survival stories out there, but it is a classic so you have to give him credit for originality at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yeah I give him all the credit for that. It stinks to put it that way- that it’s been done better later- because who knows how of those books wouldn’t have been written without this one?


  4. This is one of the books I ended up reading in middle school. I do have to say that if it come across as tame compared to 2010s satirical works, that’s precisely what makes it better than a lot of works from this decade. In those days, authors were actually interested in enlightening their audience, not waving their nihilistic beliefs in everyone’s face and calling it 100% realistic. One cannot expect one’s peers to improve if you completely deprive them of hope after all – it’s like how groups that receive nothing but negative criticism tend to perform worse than groups that receive a mixture of both, though still leaning toward positive. It’s true The Lord of the Flies is pretty relentless itself, but compared to the generic satire that gets praise left and right these days, it has actual restraint, which makes it easier to take seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmm… is this a satire? I don’t know that I thought of it that way as I was reading it. It’s an interesting interpretation though! Maybe I have to be from 1954 to understand?

      I think the scene at the end was definitely satirical.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, some sources say it’s supposed to satirize society post-World War II. What really makes this book stand above contemporary satirical works is that there’s actual applicability and room for interpretation. With 2010s satirical works, you generally have to appreciate them on the author’s terms – not yours. Plus, if you don’t get the message of a 2010s satire (and sometimes even if you do), the author will gladly repeat their point several thousand times. Naturally, this is highly tedious to wade through.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lol – I agree completely! That’s an interesting interpretation. I’ll have to think on it now. I do love when literature of any sort is left open to interpretation. I think those books are much more difficult to write.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I had a lot of the same thoughts as you when reading Lord of the Flies. Still, I think I’ll be picking up Wilder Girls when it comes out this summer since a feminst, horror-tinged LotF will solve a lot of the problems I had with Golding’s work.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I am glad that you appreciated reading this book, and got something out of it. I have had to study it twice for school (and one of those times, we had to write our own versions of the story using our classmates as the characters) and so I will never be revisiting this book. I have had more than my fill of it.

    Still, I do sometimes wonder if I would dislike it as much if I had read it for my own interest and not because it was required reading.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. 1954?! Damn! That is ancient! That’s the year my mother was born.😂😜 I’ve not read it but I’d guess that it suffers from the same thing that many older books do and that is that what was shocking back then is far more common and normal now and the stuff that raised eyebrows back then is the norm now.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I’ve never read this but I just finished watching The Society on Netflix, which is a rather similar premise, although in this case it’s a coed situation- not just boys. And they’re high school age with all THAT drama haha! Pretty entertaining though. This does sound like it’s a bit dated, for sure, but if I ever do read good to know the deluxe edition is the way to go.

    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I loved Lord of the Flies when I was younger! I read it first when I was around 10, and since then I’ve gotten to see everything else it has inspired (world where there are no adults), such as Gone, and the Society, and more 🙂 Really great review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks!! I think I would have enjoyed it a little more if I had been younger too. Reading too much horror has numbed me a little. But I agree- it was very important for everything it inspired later!


  10. Never tried this but have, obviously, heard a great deal about it. When you said the things may have been shocking back then, but not now, just made me think of the Exorcist. My dad never let me watch it until I turned 18. By that time I’d seen far more horrory films and it just fell flat.

    Shame when things feel dated.

    Liked by 1 person

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