Lord of the Flies & Little Bee

Though I was never assigned to read it in school, Sir William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is one of those books I’d always heard my (male) classmates rave about.  To this day, one of my friends claims it’s his favorite book ever.

I can see why the book would appeal so much to teen boys.  It’s a story about a plane full of young, British prep-school boys whose plane goes down; all of the adults die in the crash, and the survivors are left to fend for themselves on a nearby island.  There is a semblance of order at first, as leaders are elected and tasks are delegated.  Slowly, however, things start to fall apart.  Symbolism is rife throughout the book; it is very much a tale about the loss of innocence and the inevitability of human nature.

I listened to the audiobook version of this novel.  Golding read the novel himself (a little too slowly and drily, in my opinion).  This type of desert island/adventure genre isn’t my preference, but the book itself is well-written, if not a little dated.  Considering the events that take place, it’s easy to see the book was so popular among my middle school classmates.

Another book I listened to on audiobook was Chris Cleave’s Little Bee.  I suppose I should just say right out that I hated this book, a fact that is all the more disappointing since Cleave’s first novel, Incendiary, was so good.

The novel is about a British couple who go on vacation to Nigeria in an attempt to save their marriage.  On the beach, they encounter a young girl named Little Bee and her older sister; the two are fleeing from Nigerian soldiers after witnessing the gruesome massacre of their village.  On the beach, an event transpires that will forever tie the couple to Little Bee.

Years later Little Bee, freshly released from immigration detention in the United Kingdom, sets out to find the couple.  Her presence sets off yet another tragic chain of events in the couple’s lives.

Let me once again reiterate: I hated this book.  The characters are obnoxious and unsympathetic, the scenes drag on, and I couldn’t get past my annoyance that Cleave—a white, British male—was writing the innermost thoughts and experiences of a young, poor, Nigerian undocumented immigrant.  And though I won’t give it away, I will say that I also despised the ending.  It’s all extremely unfortunate, because Cleave is a very talented writer.

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One comment

  1. Beth F

    I really liked Lord of the Flies, but haven’t read it in ages. You should try The Beach by Alex Garland. I thought it shared elements with The Lord of the Flies, but it takes place in modern times and the islanders are there by choice.

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