I often hear about this book, but never had a chance to read it until now. It’s not a happy book for sure. The basic premise: A group of schoolboys are the only survivors of a plane crash on a deserted island. One, Ralph, becomes “chief” by virtue of calling an assembly by blowing into a conch shell. Ralph believes their only chance at survival is to keep a fire going and keep it smokey so ships at sea can see it. Another boy, Jack, leader of a choir that had taken the same flight, wants to hunt pigs that live on the island. Jack soon forms a “tribe” around hunting and thinks Ralph’s rules for survival are silly. They all start as proper English schoolboys, but over time, the layers of civilization are stripped away until Jack’s hunters begin murdering boys almost ritually.
The novel is horrific for its depiction of how humans behave when they lose the rules and systems they’ve built. In some ways, it’s an allegory on corruption, how greed reduces people to savages. The novel left Stephen King to once comment in a novel of his that he feared for the crew of the naval cruiser that pick up the boys at the end. By the time it’s all over, at least three boys are dead, and none of them, not even the “littluns,” those under the age of 9, can claim any childhood innocence anymore.