Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies - William Golding Maybe there is a beast… maybe it's only us

Yeah, that quote just about sums up the subtlety of this book for me. I mean, not that lack of subtlety is a prerequisite for enjoyment, but I just didn't get out of this book what I might have done had it been a formative experience for me. I read this book this year, at the age of 23, instead of at school, where pretty much everyone else read it. Sometimes you can get over it, sometimes you can't. Sometimes you're better off just watching The Simpsons episode that covers the same ground. This is one of those times.

Everyone knows the plot, so I don't think there's any point in regurgitating it. I think my first problem with it is that I fundamentally disagree with Golding about the moral message that he's sending with this book, though I can see why it might have been useful tool at the time – I just think there are caveats to the idea that anyone has brutality inside of them, especially when a certain group mentality sets in. But I think the other failing of the story is that, for me, this central idea is all there is to the book. I didn't particularly enjoy the prose – I found it stilted and sterile. I didn't particularly enjoy the story, perhaps because I knew where it was going, or perhaps because I felt that I saw so little inside the heads of the people involved, except by way of the few incidents that make up the book. I just didn't particularly like anything about the story or feel anything when I read it. Big things, disgusting and terrifying things happened in this story, and I just sort of shrugged and still felt like all it was was a story, a tale of morality (or lack thereof) and not something that swept me away.

Again, this is all strictly personal and I can see why it is so widely read and why people encourage its reading. I can't decide whether its distinct lack of any sort of female presence had something to do with my inability to relate to the story. I think maybe not, but it's probably something to consider. I didn't dislike the book, and I wouldn't say it isn't worth a read – in fact, my relatively high rating despite my personal dislike mainly reflects the place this book holds in my understanding and that of others of relatively recent literature – but it's not something I would ever be convinced to reread, I don't think.

I give Lord of the Flies seven out of ten.