William Golding’s 1954 novel, Lord of the Flies, is about the society and descent into mayhem created by a group of young boys stranded on a desert island is one of the most consequential works of literature from the 20th century. However, if you’re looking for more books like Lord of the Flies, it can seem like a daunting task. The novel Lord of the Flies went on to influence many other books and media, while three film adaptations based on Lord of the Flies were released over the years. Readers who like the themes explored in Lord of the Flies by William Golding might also enjoy the following books like Lord of the Flies.
The Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne
This is a quintessential boys adventure story: Ralph goes to sea as a cabin boy, almost as soon as they ’round Cape Horn and enter the Pacific ocean a storm sinks their ship marooning him and his two friends on a coral island on which they have wonderful adventures before escaping the island.
This book is in fact a prototype of several story genera, Ballantyne was a prolific writer of stories for young people, publishing over 100 between 1847 and his death in 1894. The Coral Island is considered his most successful in that it has never been out of print since it was published in 1858. Surely that is some kind of record in print for almost 160 years! If you like books similar to Lord of the Flies then here is the list with summary.
If you like to read books in dystopian genre similar to Lord of the Flies then Animal Farm is perfect pick. George Orwell’s Animal Farm is undeniably one of the best short novels ever written in the English language.
Animal Farm by George Orwell is a deceptively simple tale, which even older children could read. About an animal uprising, it is written in the style of a fable, and yet it can be read on so many levels. It is clearly both a satire and an allegory, a dystopian tale, and its author George Orwell made no secret of what regime, and which politicians, he was so mercilessly parodying. Yet as with all great novels, it speaks to us today and holds many timeless truths. It is the sort of novel where a reader will find new depths in each rereading.
Under the leadership of the pigs, the animals of Manor Farm overthrow their human owner and go into business for themselves with all animals doing their part. However, some parts involve a lot less work than others and things quickly change.
The inspiration for the novel came from a real-life episode. Orwell had just left the BBC, in 1943, and was uneasy about some propaganda he could see distributed by the then “Ministry of Information”.
Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids by Kenzaburo Oe
Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids is a powerful story similar to Lord of the Flies if you like to read similar books. Towards the end of the Second World War it is necessary to evacuate a small Reformatory School from the city to the mountains, a small group of 15 adolescent boys and there Warden. Shortly after arriving at their destination in a small rural village one of the boys becomes ill, and the villagers and Warden assume it is a plague, and abandon the boys.
This book is compared to Lord of the Flies which was published only 3 years earlier, but this is an older group of boys, all wrong-doers, and the groups experiences are more brutal and gruesome. Rather, if anything deeper is to be read into this, it is an indictment of war-time cruelty and a consideration of fear in society and place of outsiders.
The particular village author Kenzaburo Oe chooses has a wonderfully imagined location in the mountains. The boys board a type of funicular train to get to their new home, and then must cross a precarious gorge.
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Battle Royale takes place in an alternate present, where Japan is largely a totalitarian police state. Every year, a class is chosen for The Program, a free for all that makes Thunderdome look like an episode of The Care Bears. Each student is given a backpack and a weapon and turned loose one at a time. To make things interesting, there are forbidden zones on the island and anyone caught in one is killed instantly via the explosive collar they are all forced to wear. Sound good?
People are killed right off the bat and the book never lets up. I had a pretty good idea who would survive based on who got the most time on screen but the journey was well worth it. Kazuo and Mitsuko both needed their hash settled from the opening bell. If you like books like Lord of the Flies then you won’t disappoint reading this book.
A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes
This is such an odd piece of fiction, bouncing back and forth between swashbuckling & funny and alienating & terrifying. Richard Hughes’s novel follows the story of the Bas-Thorton children as they are sent away from their childhood home of Jamaica by their parents, and captured en route to England by a band of pirates.
The set up sounds like your standard adventure books similar to Lord of the Flies, and in some ways it is. But it’s also a really interesting look at memory, how certain events are amplified into great importance while others – ones that should objectively be more important – are muted.
Early in the story Emily, the most complex of the children (or at least the most explored), experiences both an earthquake and a violent hurricane. The former is very minor – no one around her is hurt and it doesn’t have a lasting impact on her life. The latter is much more ‘important’ – it results in several deaths, destroys the family’s home, and results in the kids being shipped off to England. But Emily sees the earthquake as far more important – it’s an Earthquake with a Capital E, an event that makes her interesting and gives color and texture to her life. Hurricanes, though this one was worse than most, happen all the time.
This book is not completely similar to Lord of the Flies but this is equally one of the most life changing books. The story is told from the point of view of Scout (Jean-Louise Finch), a six year old girl, through various events that happen in the town of Maycomb and in particular, the court case of Tom Robinson as her father Atticus Finch acts as Tom’s defence lawyer. Tom, a black man who has been accused of raping a young white woman, has to endure multiple racial attacks. Atticus, widely described as the “most enduring fictional image of racial heroism”, describes the events to Scout so that she sees that all people should be treated equally.
The book mainly deals with the themes of racial equality and rape but there are themes of morality, class and gender also. The writing was a joy to read. You really get to know and care for the characters. This story is really subtle in places and it’s not a fast-paced thrill ride.
J.D. Salinger’s ‘Catcher in the Rye’ was published on July 16, 1951. It was his first novel. It became very popular among young adolescents yet not so popular with older generations. Holden Caulfield, a sixteen year old boy from New York, was quite unlike kids his age. He had no interest in being popular or social. From the very beginning he lets us into part of his personal life. His parents are very touchy and his mother is especially protective. It becomes clear very quickly where Holden’s interests lie and where they start to veer off. He tends to lean away from the fake in the world and is a teller of what is real.
Holden is not a fan of the movies at all. He saw his brother, D.B., throw away his natural writing talent all for a large Hollywood check. Any other boy Holden’s age would have been absolutely ecstatic to have a sibling working amongst the stats in Hollywood, but not Holden. It was all far too “phony” for him; and phony is his worst enemy.
J D Salinger’s use of sarcasm and irony is beautiful and hilarious. If you like books similar Lord of the Flies, then you will also love Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger.
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Slaughterhouse-Five is about Billy Pilgrim’s survival of the firebombing of Dresden as a prisoner-of-war during World War II and is often cited as one of the most enduring anti-war novels of all time.
This book isn’t written in a traditional manner. It is framed as story about Billy Pilgrim, a survivor of the Dreseden fire bombing (just like Kurt Vonnegut) but has become unstuck in time. And he was also abducted by aliens.
The result is a very fragmented narrative with Billy jumping across time from his time as a kidnapped human to his time during WWII to his post-war life. While the book is certainly flavored with science fiction (time travel and aliens) it is very much a meditation on war and death and existence (heavy stuff, I know). He punctuates every death with the phrase “So it goes” highlighting just how much death Billy comes across in his life. It crops up quite a lot and is an effective tool to illustrate how prevalent death is.
Tralfamadorians, the aliens that abducted Billy, were very fascinating. Unlike us they are not constrained by time in perceiving events. Time does not pass to them, everything is like a bug caught in amber. These sorts of perspectives on humanity and its perpetual condition of destroying itself made the book cutting, moving, and memorable.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future.
Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.
Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.
When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.