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One of the most influential works of literature of the 20th century is William Golding’s 1954 novel about a group of young boys who are stranded on a desert island and descend into mayhem. However, finding more books similar to Lord of the Flies can be a difficult undertaking.
The storyline of Jack, Ralph, Piggy, Sam and Eric and Simon may have ended differently if it had been written in the 1950s, but if you’d like to see a little more female energy in this largely male-dominated society, here are 10 books like Lord of the Flies that are sure to stimulate your mind and leave you wanting more!
1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
This seminal 1962 novel by Ken Kesey, set in a mental hospital, is best known for the 1975 film adaptation starring Jack Nicholson, but it is also a must-read for fans of Lord of the Flies and other similar works.
While in a psychiatric hospital, Randle McMurphy, a convicted felon who faked insanity to avoid prison, is the subject of the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which follows his story while in the facility. Nurse Ratched, the tyrannical head nurse, is the focus of the novel, which follows McMurphy’s efforts to overthrow her.
The novel examines power dynamics and leadership in a similar manner to Lord of the Flies. There are many books like William Golding’s seminal work, but One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a great underrated classic that everyone should read at least once in their lives.
Read more: Books Like Lord Of The Flies
2. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
Anthony Burgess’ 1962 dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange is a great choice if you’re looking for books similar to Lord of the Flies because of its film adaptation (directed by the incomparable Stanley Kubrick).
After 15 years of living in a dystopian society that isn’t so far in the future, this bizarre and dark novel follows 15-year-old protagonist Alex, a violent and delinquent young man. Each of the novel’s three sections focuses on a different stage of Alex’s development as he approaches adulthood.
Alex becomes the de facto leader of a gang of violent youths and must deal with the ramifications of his actions in a society very different from our own. Authority, leadership, and anarchy are all themes that are explored in a similar way to those in Lord of the Flies, making it a great addition to any reading list.
3. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
If the dynamic of young people trapped in an unavoidable situation and the ensuing anarchy appealed to you in Lord of the Flies, you’ll love The Hunger Games.
Taking place in the dystopian future, The Hunger Games centers on Katniss Everdeen, who is chosen to compete in a televised annual event that pits 24 children between the ages of 12 and 18 against one another in a battle royale. One major difference between the two books is that this novel’s protagonist is a woman, whereas William Golding’s novel is entirely male-dominated.
Following themes from Lord of the Flies, including compliance, rebellion, and the consequences when young people appear in charge, this novel, which was made into a hugely successful film franchise, stars Jennifer Lawrence.
Catching Fire and Mockingjay are great additions to your reading list if you’re looking for books like Lord of the Flies in a more modern setting.
4. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
Among Kurt Vonnegut’s best works, Slaughterhouse-Five is a great pick for fans of Lord of the Flies who want to read something different.
During the Second World War and as a POW in Dresden, Billy Pilgrim witnesses and survives the devastating firebombing while also being kidnapped by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore and made an exhibit in one of their zoos. This 1969 novel follows Billy Pilgrim as he becomes “unstuck in time” (and out of order) and takes you through his experiences.
While Lord of the Flies and Slaughterhouse-Five are worlds apart, they both deal with a lot of the same issues. In particular, it investigates the impact on young people of being exposed to violence, as well as the devastation caused by WWII (as it is implied in Lord of the Flies that the boys on the island were in the process of being evacuated from the Blitz).
5. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
A great book like Lord of the Flies is Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953. (Are you looking for more book suggestions?) See our collection of titles that are similar to Fahrenheit 451.)
To put it simply, Fahrenheit 451 takes place in a future society where the totalitarian government heavily censors most of the reading material that is available to the general public (the year 1999 is commonly accepted).
What happens next in the story is as follows: Guy Montag works as a firefighter or as a book pyrotechnician. The full title of the book is Fahrenheit 451, after the temperature at which the book’s paper catches fire.
After witnessing a woman who would rather die than see her books burned, a suicide attempt by his wife (and subsequent medic ambivalence), and the disappearance of a neighbor actively challenging the government, the reader follows Guy as he struggles with his job and begins to wonder about the totalitarian regime in which he lives.
As a notable anti-censorship and critique of the modern obsession with mass media, Fahrenheit 451 is an excellent choice for readers looking for books similar to Lord of the Flies, despite its numerous challenges.
Browse our list of books like Fahrenheit 451 if you’ve already read Ray Bradbury’s classic.
6. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
For those looking for books like Lord of the Flies, George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a great choice. It shows how quickly a seemingly perfect society can devolve into madness.
A perfect allegory of the events leading up to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and the establishment of the Stalinist USSR, Animal Farm was first published in 1945. The story revolves around a farm full of animals who plot to overthrow their human owners and set up a communal farm where “all animals are equal” and work together for the good of the community.
Things quickly deteriorate, however, as power dynamics take hold and propaganda begins to infiltrate the farm’s animal population’s consciousness. After a short period of time, their idyllic communal society devolves into something far worse, with only a few animals enjoying relative prosperity while many more are forced to suffer as a result.
If you’re interested in Soviet power dynamics (under Stalin), or if you’re looking for a book like Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm is an excellent choice. It’s also one of the best works in 20th century literature.
7. The Crucible, by Arthur Miller
You can read The Crucible by Arthur Miller in 1953 if you’re bored with novels but still want a thought-provoking read like Lord of the Flies.
The Salem Witch Trials of 1692-93 are the setting for this Tony Award-winning play, written as an allegory of McCarthyism in the United States.
As a group of girls led by antagonist Abigail Williams accuse some members of their Puritanical, Theocratic society of witchcraft in this play, the town’s citizens are drawn into the story. As a result of such accusations, 19 people were killed during the trials.
Retribution, compliance, and leadership dynamics in a primitive and isolated society are all explored in the play.
The Crucible is widely regarded as one of Miller’s most important works. It’s also a great choice for anyone looking for something along the lines of Lord of the Flies.
8. The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson’s 1948 short story The Lottery is another excellent, if lengthy, read for fans of Lord of the Flies.
Famous for its portrayal of small-town life, The Lottery is reminiscent of the Lord of the Flies series’ focus on conformity and power dynamics.
A lottery is about to be held in town, and the story follows the town’s residents as they get ready and talk about the traditions that go along with it, as well as how other towns have done away with their own lottery systems recently.
The story has a shocking twist at the end, so don’t try to read it right before bed. Despite this, it’s a classic critique of how societies work and how our peers influence us as individuals.
9. Circe, by Madeline Miller
If the setting of Lord of the Flies appealed to you more than the bloody anarchy that ensues on the island, you’ll probably enjoy Madeline Miller’s 2018 novel Circe, which is set on a desert island.
As a modern retelling of the Greek myth of Circe, which is best known for her appearance in The Oddessy where she had an affair with Odysseus and turned some of his men into pigs when they came across her island, this novel will appeal particularly to classics and Greco-Roman myth fans.
The story follows Circe from her birth to her love affairs and obsessions with mortals, as well as her magical experiments that lead to her exile on her own private island.
A great “desert island book,” it also features cameos from mythological favorites such as Odysseus, Daedalus, and Theseus, and is a far cry from Lord of the Flies’ plot.
10. Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Dafoe
No list based on a book set on an isolated island is complete without including Robinson Crusoe, even though Lord of the Flies is about the dangers of anarchy and a society with no boundaries.
Known as the classic “desert island book,” Robinson Crusoe chronicles the experiences of the title character, who spends 28 years stranded on an island off the coast of Trinidad.
If you’re looking for books that are similar to Lord of the Flies but were published 300 years ago, Robinson Crusoe is an excellent choice to add to your reading list.
Book lovers looking to learn more about societies and human nature will find plenty of great options like Lord of the Flies, as well as those who want to experience being stranded on an island will find plenty of great books to keep them entertained for a long time.
You want a book like Lord of the Flies, don’t you? Do you have anything else to add to the list? Tell us in the comments what you think!