Unpopular opinion alert: I don’t like Lord of the Flies* by William Golding. At all. Not even a little bit.
The book opens on an island where a group of schoolboys are stranded sans grown-ups. How did they get there? Why are they there? Where are the grown-ups? Totally unclear. The novel is only 200 pages and I spent the first 50 stuck on the logistics of their desertion. I’m down to suspend disbelief, but if the boys spend most of the book trying to get rescued, throw me a contextual bone or two.
A grown-up free playpen? Sounds awesome. Until you need to organize and meet basic survival needs. The novel portrays their floundering attempts to create a civilized society. Boys. Will. Be. Boys. Soooo much arguing. Just constant bickering that mostly leads to nowhere. Truly, the dialogue is excruciating. I know that they’re kids, but can no one express a complete thought? Each one has the memory of a goldfish; most of the banter consists of them wondering where some other kid went. Seriously, stop running off every five seconds, it’s uninteresting. Every boy seems like a dumb dumb, starting a sentence and then forgetting what he is saying. The entire novel is littered with dashes because a kid’s thought will inevitably be cut off.
The novel never explicitly specifies time, but it seems that the plot is tightly packed and therefore the boys are not on the island for very long (a month, perhaps). Their descent into savagery is rapid, like a snowball effect. Humans are capable of good and evil, and the setting is an allegory for humanity’s base impulses within rule-driven society. When you’re a confused child abandoned on an island with other confused children, your evil side might come out more than you’d prefer. That’s perfectly fine as a premise, but many of the actions and reactions are disproportionate and unbelievable. There isn’t much character development, but I sincerely doubt that a bunch of children, no matter how strange their circumstances are, have totally sociopathic responses to the gruesome deaths of boys their age. Golding hit the nail on the head too forcefully, and I would have appreciated more nuances.
My favorite thing about this book is unrelated to the writing itself. I got a used copy, and the person before me wrote “siesore” in the margins in a scene where one kid has a seizure. Other than that, Lord of the Flies receives 1 out of 5 camel humps.
*Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Perigee, 1954. Print.