Book Review – Lord of the Flies

Written By: William Golding

Final Overall Rating: 8/10

Rating: 8 out of 10.

First of all, this review is purely derived from my own personal opinion. If you disagree, let me know in the comments; I am always up for a good discussion or to answer questions. 

(Spoilers Below – Read at your own peril!)

Recommend Yes or No: 

Yes. Everyone should read this book. It is an incredible exploration into the darkness of human hearts and our so-called humanity. People like to pretend humans and our civilizations have evolved into a complexly civil nature – and that is a nice thought, though not entirely true. Golding breaks down human nature to its bare and bloody bones and reveals the savage darkness that resides in the primal instincts we are taught to lock away. 

Writing Style: (8/10)

Lord of the Flies has a third person omniscient narrator and is told in past tense. Golding unfolds the story through the use of the character’s inner thoughts and emotions, character dialogue, and through heavy description of the island environment. One of the reasons that I removed points in this section was because some of the description was so dense (and in places unnecessary) that it was easy to lose track of the main points of the story. I often found myself backtracking to get a refresher on the character’s objectives. Aside from this though, the writing style was engaging and kept me on my toes wondering what would happen next. 

Story: 9/10

This story follows a group of young schoolboys who find themselves stranded on an island after being sent away by the grown-ups, in order that they may evade horrors of a World War. However, the boys soon discover fear and destruction are unavoidable. Out of the group, two boys, Ralph and Jack, rise up to take leadership. At first, Ralph (who represents logic, law, civility and order) is appointed chief, and the boys celebrate their newfound leader. However, Jack (who represents aggression, darkness, disorder and chaos) is not to be trusted, and through a series of events he manages to turncoat or kill all of Ralph’s followers. Sin prevails. I’ll leave the ending undiscussed for your own discovery, but I will say it left me feeling unresolved and dissatisfied. 

Character Development: 7/10

I thought the character development could have been a bit better. The backstories of the boys (if they even had any) were very vague, which made it more difficult for me to sympathize with the characters. Although, I do think that this strategy made it easier to see the boys at the end of the novel as a more savage creature than human. I also felt that the boys would have somewhat reminisced about their past life in British society (with family, school, friends, food, etc.), however it was rarely mentioned, which again made it difficult to connect with them because details about individuals were withheld.            

Fun Facts about Golding:

  1. Golding was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1983 (Biography). 
  2. Golding was in the Royal Navy and participated in World War II (Biography). 
  3. “In 1988 he was knighted by England’s Queen Elizabeth II (Biography).”
  4. In 1963 and 1990 there were film adaptions to Lord of the Flies (Biography). 
  5. Tried to write his first novel when he was only 12 (Biography). 

Favorite Quote from Lord of the Flies:

“Maybe there is a beast… Maybe it’s only us” (89) and “What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages?” (91)

Final Takeaways: 

Humans have an inherent darkness – sin. We are going to slip up and make mistakes, but that does not excuse us from trying our best to be good people. We have to resist the beast within.  

Works Cited: 

Biography.com. “William Golding Biography.” https://www.biography.com/writer/william-golding.

Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. 1954. Reprint. New York: Penguin Books, 2016. Print.

Tell me what you think in the comments! How would you have reacted in this situation?? Would having girls on the island have changed the outcome?? Have you read this book?? And if so, did you like it??

4 thoughts on “Book Review – Lord of the Flies

  1. This is a powerful book that should be on everyone’s must-read list. It’s a continuation of the debate between Thomas Hobbes and John Locke on the concept of a “state of nature”—how society would develop in the absence of government. In Leviathan, Hobbes famously proclaims that, in a state of nature, “the life of man [would be] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Locke, in his “Second Treatise on Civil Government,” written about 40 years later, proposed the “social contract” theory of government, hypothesizing that people in a state of nature would make a “social contract” to create a government to do what they as individuals could not do by themselves. Jefferson, a follower of Locke, embodied these ideas in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. If Hobbes was right, as Golding clearly believes he was, what does that say about the principles upon which our country exists?

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    1. I think it means that our “state of nature” is volatile and unpredictable. Ideally we would form a social contract, but I think that the sinful nature of man makes it impossible to maintain “good” principles entirely – the inability to remain unselfish would lead to social collapse and anarchy. A theme that has been unfortunately popular throughout time. As an optimist I would love to believe that humans are above violence and selfish principles, but unfortunately that is not entirely true.

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