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“They walked along, two continents of experience and feeling, unable to communicate.”

“Again he fell into that strange mood of speculation that was so foreign to him. If faces were different when lit from above or below – what was a face? What was anything?

“Another voice told him not to be a fool; and the darkness and desperate enterprise gave the night a kind of dentist chair unreality.”

One Million Page Princess

I know, I know… how could I be an adult that loves literature, and not have read Lord of the Flies? I’m not sure. It must have slipped through the cracks of high school required reading. Over the years I’ve obviously heard it referenced a hundred times, and know the general idea; a group of boys get stranded on a deserted island and become tiny savages.Perhaps that’s why I didn’t feel any pressure to read it.

My partner is also on this quest to read 52 books a year with me, and he was reading this one a few months ago and said he loved it. Normally we have very similar taste, but I’ve got to say I really disagreed with him on this one. This is by far one of the most disturbing books I have ever read. I can’t even believe they force teenagers to read this in school. I found it really depressing and negative, which is fine when at least the writing is coherent, but I found myself reading the same passages over and over again to make sure I understood what was happening. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention, but the fact that the beast is… well, what it is (I won’t spoil it here) flew right over my head for a long time.

And yes, before fans of this book fly off the handle, I understand its allegorical meaning.

For anyone that hasn’t read it, here’s a brief synopsis. A group of British boys in WW2 are in a plane crash and become stranded on an uninhabited island. Initially they try to be “civilized” by appointing a leader and assigning people jobs and tasks. Unfortunately, some of the older boys aren’t into the idea of civility and two tribes begin to form. Ralph’s tribe dreams of rescue, and continues to make that their priority, while Jack decides he wants to be a hunter, and gets several of the boy’s in his tribe hopped up on repeating a pretty nasty mantra about slitting necks and letting blood spill. It’s intense. Slowly but surely, Ralph’s tribe of civility dwindles until… well, I won’t give away the ending.

My biggest problem with this book is that it’s supposed to highlight what rotten brutal creatures humans are at their core, and that when push comes to shove we turn absolutely disgustingly evil. Call me naive, but I don’t think this is the case. Actually, I think it would be even less so if people stopped preaching about the power of books like this, and blaming their bad behavior on ‘human nature’. Take accountability for your actions people. Mob mentality only becomes a thing when you make the choice to give your power over to it.

Maybe this book’s discussions of hate, and deceit, and lack of consciousness made more sense in the 50’s when it was published, but I would like to think we’re past that now, or at least continuing to move past it. What we focus on we create, and I have no desire to focus on the themes of this novel anymore.

As Ellen always says: be kind to one another,

OMPP