Lord of the Flies

Book review by
Kenneth Butler, Common Sense Media
Lord of the Flies Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Gripping story of marooned schoolboys and their savagery.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 54 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will come away from Lord of the Flies with a grasp of the book’s basic premise: that some individuals, deprived of the rules and restrictions of society, will revert to primitive savagery. This central thesis of learned and imposed morality vs. natural brutality is found on every page. They will also learn something about survival on an unpopulated island.

Positive Messages

The positive message is simple but clear: An individual’s personal choice ultimately dictates behavior in any given situation. Like Elie Wiesel’s Night and The Diary of Anne Frank, The Lord of the Flies demonstrates that it is possible to retain individual humanity in appalling situations, and that people are capable of selflessness, even when their own lives are at stake. When awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, Golding was lauded for his deep concern for humanity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ralph is the story’s protagonist, but it seems early on that Ralph’s insistence on remaining civilized in primal circumstances may be more conditioned than genuine. Still, this argument underscores the value of ethics (as opposed to morals) in collaborative situations. Piggy is brainy and logical, and certainly represents the human quest for enlightenment and reason, but his scientific and intellectual status is compromised by a whiny personality. Only Simon, who looks after the younger boys, seems naturally kind and good, as if born that way.

Violence

One boy is bullied. Two characters are murdered. There is a brief torture sequence. Boys hunt a pig and poke a sharp stick up his rear end while he is still alive. In addition, the setting and atmosphere are fraught with the potential for violence.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Lord of the Flies has been described as dark, brutal, pessimistic, and tragic. Yet it deals with a fundamental issue of humanity: Are people naturally prone to evil? This and other issues in this novel would be invaluable for parent-child discussion, on both theological and humanist levels.

Wondering if Lord of the Flies is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byegerhazi100 October 21, 2019

Pretty good book

I think it would be pretty gory for my 13 year old good christian kid. He isn't ready for something like this. I try to keep him away from gory games on... Continue reading
Adult Written byHolly R. April 24, 2019

Was forced to read this in middle school...

When I was in 7th grade I was forced to read this. At first I enjoyed it because of the violence and because I used to have violent tendencies as a kid. This bo... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byjjsyn May 8, 2019

The Lord of the Flies is within us all.

Lord of the Flies confronts human nature in a way that applies to everyone. Opinions on this book are very often bidimensional and does not do this book any jus... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byMissBookaHolic September 17, 2017

An exceptionally well-written book

I thought that this book was extremely well written with well-rounded characters and a rich, exciting plot. Set in a tropical jungle( maybe during the second wo... Continue reading

What's the story?

Marooned on a tropical island, a group of British schoolboys are left to fend for themselves, unsupervised by any adults. At first, the boys enjoy their freedom, playing and exploring the island, but soon the group splits into two factions -- those who attempt to preserve the discipline and order they had learned from society, and those who choose to give in to every instinct and impulse, no matter how barbaric.

Is it any good?

Lord of the Flies has been a perennial favorite since its first publication in 1954, and this excellent novel is a deserved staple of school reading lists. Golding keeps his prose unadorned and straightforward, and the result is a page-turning entertainment, as well as a highly thought-provoking work of literature.

 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether individuals are born "good" or "evil" -- is our behavior always the result of choice?

  • How is it that good people are capable of bad behavior, and vice versa? How do you think you might behave under the circumstances of the novel?

  • Is it always best to sacrifice your own wants and needs for the common good of a community?

  • What might some of the prominent elements of the story -- the conch, Piggy’s glasses, the sow’s head, the island’s "beast" -- symbolize?

  • Lord of the Flies is considered a classic and is often required reading in school. Why do you think that is?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love classics

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate