Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
Somehow, I missed this book in high school; after reading The Hunger Games, I was intrigued to see how the themes of children and brutal survival would be combined. However, I found those themes to really be the only ones the two books have in common. While THG is about the survival of humanity in the face of brutality, LotF is instead about the inevitable decent of humanity into savagery.
After a plane crash leaves a group of young boys stranded, Ralph is elected leader, and immediately instigates practices to maintain society (daily meetings) and aid rescue (maintain a fire); Piggy stands as his wise, yet socially and physically clumsy sidekick, while Jack serves as the jealous antagonist who eventually succeeds in leading the other boys in a descent into brutal savagery.
The symbols are refreshingly clear – so overtly so that I often felt I had to be missing something, that it couldn’t be that simple. After reading too many annoyingly subtle and complex books in high school, this novel was pleasantly succinct in its discussion of the pitfalls of human nature.
The imagery is my favorite part of the novel – so disturbing, so powerful, so vividly described. I have such a clear image of the death of Piggy in my head that it disturbs me, even weeks later. Each word is chosen so that each sentence is expertly crafted to leave a lasting impression.
Well worth my time to catch up on standard high school reading.