Anybody who didn’t go on to become a high school lit teacher, I mean? Because (as I may have mentioned before) I hated it.
But I just read LOST GIRLS by Ann Kelley, which is not likely (I guess) to become the sort of classic that everyone is required to read in high school, but was quite good. After I read it, I looked up a plot summary of LORD OF THE FLIES to see just how similar the two books are. And the answer is: pretty similiar. I was sort of thinking everybody might have died at the end of LORD OF THE FLIES, but no. (You can see how much I hated it, with that half-conviction of a terrible ending in the back of my mind.)
I liked LOST GIRLS pretty well. It didn’t take me by surprise — I’d read the review at The Book Smugglers and I thought it sounded pretty good. I didn’t love it as much as Thea did, but it was good, and just what I was in the mood for. But Kelley avoides the descent into savagry, the hunting each other stuff. Whew! I did not miss those elements. Some of the characters do die, though, including one that shocked me.
I would have liked at least one of the “Glossies” — the girly-girls with their make-up and hair curlers and all that — to wind up growing as a person, becoming competent and decisive and taking responsibility for herself and the younger girls. I will spare you the slowly growing disappointment if you read this by telling you up front: No. Doesn’t happen. I thought that was a real shame and an important miss on Kelley’s part; it made those two girls boring and made the story as a whole seem more shallow. That’s my biggest criticism, though.
I liked the setting (an island off Thailand!) and I loved the narrator, who was definitely not too good to be true. I loved her anger. I would have felt exactly the same way. I did wonder just how much trouble you could possibly have with starvation on a tropical island; I kept thinking about those coconut crabs. Crabs that can break coconuts? They must be huge. They sound like a very promising source of protein to me. Maybe there was some reason the girls didn’t eat them, but I missed it.
And I liked the tiger! Hey, tigers are always good.
And of course high school teachers now have great potential for group discussions: if you MUST assign LORD OF THE FLIES, how about also assigning LOST GIRLS? Then you can have a rousing debate about whether things would really proceed so differently with girls stranded on an island as opposed to boys, and which author got closer to a likely scenario (if either).