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Lord of the Flies

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

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 32 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.


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.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bybooklover29730 December 18, 2013

Great Read

Great book and an easy read. I finished the book in four days. Welcome to a world where kids are stranded on an Island. Meet Jack, Ralph, Roger, Piggy, and S... Continue reading
Adult Written byabbacus September 9, 2016

Not for everyone, but understandably a Classic.

I am personally not a big fan of this book. I think it is an interesting book to think about and discuss, but there wasn't a whole lot to keep me invested... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byAwalkeratCSM March 28, 2012

A thoughtful entree for smart teens served to you by mindful, extraordinary author

I have "Lord of the Flies" to thank for getting me to really like my English teacher (oh, the discussions we had and the allegorical insight she gave... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old June 8, 2014

Has a decent massage, but masked by terrible delivery

Probably one of the best ways to review this book is to compare it to other books similar to it. For this review, I'm going to compare it to a few. The pl... 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?

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