First published back in September of 1954, ‘Lord Of The Flies’ formed the debut novel for British author William Golding.  Although not initially a fast-selling success, over the following years the novel has become recognised as a modern literary classic, and has found its place within almost all lists of great literary masterpieces as well as remaining on school syllabuses reading lists.

DLS Synopsis:
With war erupting around them, a group of British schoolboys are swiftly evacuated out of Britain in a small plane, in the hope of sending the young boys to a much safer location.  However, as the plane is flying over the Pacific Ocean, it is shot down, to crash land on a remote and entirely isolated island.

As the boys emerge from the wreckage of the plane, they quickly realise that they are the only survivors of the crash.  Alone and marooned on the island without any adults to guide them, the boys find that amongst their numbers there isn’t a single one of them older than thirteen.

Whilst exploring their immediate new surrounds, Ralph and a chubby lad somewhat un-affectionately known as ‘Piggy’ find a magnificent looking conch shell, washed up in the shallow waters of the beach.  Using the newly found conch, Ralph blows into its hollow chamber, summoning all of the surviving boys to his vicinity.  The first meeting of the survivors is a volatile one.  One in which Ralph and Jack Merridew emerge as natural leaders of the group.  Jack has the support of his fellow choirboys.  But nevertheless the majority of the votes full in favour of Ralph as their chief leader.  Ralph further appoints Jack as the leader of the hunting party.  And so, under Ralph’s leadership, the rules of their survival are laid down.  They must maintain a smoke signal at all times in the hope of alerting any passing ships to their presence on the isolated island.  The second ruling being to enjoy themselves.  For they don’t know how brief their freedom here may be.

With the large conch shell now seen as a symbol of their small society, it is decided that whoever holds the conch shall have the respect and command of the group.  But leadership doesn’t prove to be that easy.  With the signalling fire blazing away, attention soon becomes diverted to the more entertaining circumstances of being on the island, and unsupervised; the fire quickly spreads, engulfing the nearby woodland.  But the fire is short lived and lessons are quickly learnt.

As the days pass by, the group of young boys spend much of their time frolicking in the warm waters and playing games in the sun.  But soon enough they all start to get increasingly hungry.  With Jack’s group of choirboys repeatedly failing in their task of hunting for food, tensions start to run high.  Furthermore, when a ship is seen passing by on the horizon and Ralph finds out that the signalling fire has been allowed to go out once again, all hell breaks loose in the ranks.

Meanwhile Piggy has become an outsider to the groups.  The only thing keeping him even remotely in with the survivors is his respected advisory to Ralph.  However, that cannot last.  And the boys’ nerves are put further on edge by talk of a supposed beast that is prowling in the dense forest on the island.

The leadership is on the verge of breaking.  Hostility is splitting the boys into two opposing factions.  Violence is just a stone’s throw away.  And something’s got to give soon.

And then from the darkened skies above them, the island has a sudden new arrival.  An arrival that will set in motion a long line of destructive events that brings war into their small community.   What was once a setting close to paradise itself, has now turned into a vicious battleground, where the desperate and the determined come to heads with the vicious and the unforgiving.

And there’s nowhere to hide...

DLS Review:
This is first and foremost, a modern literary classic – and how rightly so.  Talk about an engaging, challenging and compelling read.  If you haven’t yet read the book (although I understand that it’s still often seen on the school syllabus) then I cannot possibly recommend enough how much it should be your next read.

So what have we got?  Well, first off Golding paints a captivating and believable picture of the island that the boys become stranded upon.  The initial excitement and thrill of the predicament that the boys find themselves within is felt by the reader from an energetic buzz that leaps out from the writing.  Indeed, at first it seems like every young boys dream come true – a paradise-like setting, utter freedom, no rules, no adults - every schoolboy’s heaven. 

But it doesn’t last.  Golding masterfully steers the storyline deeper and deeper down a tense and darkened slope, with the conflicts and stresses between the dividing ranks of the surviving boys mounting at each turn of the page.  Bullying and callous violence are allowed to gestate and become more and more of a problem.  The nail-biting tension that is felt from around a quarter of the way into the tale just keeps on getting worse – the undercurrent of barely-suppressed violence a threat that follows all of the characters around everywhere.

And when it all bursts out, good god does it hit the reader square in the face like a purposefully swung sledgehammer.  The madness that is creeping into the stranded boys’ camp and their gradual reverting to savages is portrayed in such a deliberately emotive fashion, with a vast array of symbolic suggestions hanging on to the snowballing storyline at almost every given opportunity.

The inclusion of ‘The Beast’ is a veritable catalyst for the fear and torment that is fuelling the flames of the boys escalating unrest.  There’s barely any rhyme or reason behind their obsessive belief of a beast that is loose on the island.  With each of their nerves at such a delicate peak, anything could have formed such a trigger, but this idea of ‘The Beast’ becomes the perfect representation of their madness.  Its blatant lunacy and it’s so easily seen from the outside.  But from the inside, amongst the madness, the fear, the tension and the desperately raw emotions, it can seem so very, very real.

Another magnificent strength to the tale is how Golding has managed to inject such a dominating and disarming soul into the very words of the book.  The tragic collapse of the boys’ social community is driven home with such gusto that it feels like a personal implosion.  A seemingly self-destructive part of humanity that rings true across our own modern-day world.  Its messages seem so poignant.  It’s voice so shockingly real.

The novel deals with many layers.  As with so many of the classics, the reader can take as much or as little from the novel as they choose.  Chapters can be read with a much more thoughtful pace for insightfully thought-provoking consideration.  Ideas and thoughts can be examined and brought forth into our own lives.  There’s so much there that can be dissected and cross-examined, so much that can be pondered upon and discussed.  But at the same time, Golding has packaged this all up in a truly compelling and enthralling story.  And god dammit if it isn’t a bloody hard book to put down.

So there we have it.  For what it’s worth, just another review highly praising the novel.  A tale that has been held up in such high regard since its first publication.  But somewhere amongst those tens of thousands of reviews singing the novel’s praises is my two-pence worth anyway.

The novel runs for a total of 248 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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