No, seriously. I was promised cannibalism, and there was none. Hinted potential cannibalism? Yes. Actual eating of humans? No. Totally unfair.
For this review I’m going to assume that a) you are unlike me and actually had to read this at some point in your schooling or b) you are like me and the book was spoiled for you by a person of the A persuasion. If neither of these are true, well, now you know there’s no cannibalism?
Tiny plot summary: a bunch of boys get stranded on a jungle island after some mysterious circumstances. They start off working toward rescue, but then some kids break off to have fun on the island or hunt the native pigs. The latter group gets bigger, the former group gets smaller. The hunters get all worked up in a tizzy one night and kill one of the other boys, who they thought was a beast at the time. Oops. Then they get worked up in a bigger tizzy about wanting to run the island and they on-purpose kill the fat kid with the asthma. Mmmm, dashed brains (and still no cannibalism!). Then. Then. -twitch- Then, right before they kill (and possibly eat? Cannibalism, please!) the last of the relatively sane people, they get frickin’ rescued. WHAT.
I mean, yeah, the book is old and British, and the writing is difficult to understand at times, and there is NO CANNIBALISM, but I was pretty much on board with the book the whole way through. I was intrigued by the slow descent into madness (well, faster for some) of the boys, especially the one who’s trying to keep everything together. I was horrified but admiring of the sow “rape” scene (no, there is no sex with pigs. Or cannibalism). But then, right when we’re about to find out just how deep into evil 12-year-olds can get… they get frickin’ rescued. Jeez. The one time they keep the fire lit. Especially after all of the stuff in the beginning about how maybe there was an atomic bomb and probably everyone else is dead and all, the rescue really seemed completely out of place. I get it — the kids are all crazy and stuff until a real voice of authority comes, at which point they become good little Brits again. But I think the drama, the horror, and the irony would have been just that much more delicious if Golding had at least waited until AFTER Ralph was dead for the rescuers to come. Seriously.
The other problem I had with this book is that while I liked specific scenes (the “rape”, Simon talking with the Lord of the Flies, the parachutist/Beast nodding in the breeze, any time Ralph says “sucks to your ass-mar”), I had a lot of trouble remembering any character that wasn’t on a page for a while. Jack, Ralph, Piggy, sure. But everyone else I had to flip back and re-learn who they were all the time. I don’t know if that was Golding’s intention (kids are interchangeable?), but it was really rather confusing.
But I did actually like this book, possibly because I didn’t have to read it for school. 🙂 Funny how that works.
(My Year of Reading Dangerously)
Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.