Kids on Deserted Islands

9 08 2011

Summer Reading Book #2: Lord of the Flies by William Golding
In which a bunch of boys find themselves stranded on a deserted island and turn into savages and things go badly until they get rescued.

Book #2.5 (i.e. not on my summer reading list): Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
In which a plane full of teen pageant contestants crashes on an island and the girls pull together to make huts, desalinate their water and become responsible women, unshackled from the eyes of the world and things go mostly okay until they get rescued (and then things basically turn into a James Bond movie).

Which deserted island book did I like better?  Good question.  Hard question.   I know which cover I like better:

I have seen many covers for Lord of the Flies and none of them have the”take me off the shelf” quality that Beauty Queens has.  Fortunately, I don’t judge books solely by their covers.  However, inside the books, you find something similar to the cover.  Lord of the Flies is thin on description and girls.  When I say thin on description, I don’t mean to imply that the book is mostly dialogue.  It’s more the feeling that Flies is about any boys that land on an island–one fat, one smart, one combative + the little ones.  This is an “every boy” story.  The Queens are more specific–part of that is Libba Bray’s writing style–and each girl helps to debunk a stereotype.

The last difference is a little bit spoiler-y: the boys kill each other and then get rescued, while the girls band together, kick butt and rescue themselves.  Although admittedly, Beauty Queens is satire.  It’s not meant to be realistic or possible (especially once you get to the insanity at the end) but I wished it was.  I want it to be possible because I want everything Bray is saying about girls to be true.  Any way you slice it, Beauty Queens is a feminist read.  Lord of the Flies is not feminist, nor is it uplifting in any way.  It is an unflinching look at human nature, which I appreciate even though it causes far more grimaces while reading.  Now I understand why high school teachers continue to use this book–I still wonder why mine didn’t include it.

Bottom line: Summer is always a good time to read about plane crashes and survival–either of these books do the trick, they just do it differently.

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