Lord of the Flies
by William Golding
With the civilized world on the verge of war, a plane crash leaves a group of Brittish school boys stranded alone on a desert island. The story starts with the charismatic Ralph and his newly acquired cohort "Piggy" calling all of the boys from their various locations on the island using a conch shell as something of a rallying cry.
Once they have all gathered, the impromptu meeting evolves into an election for leader, with Ralph the obvious favorite (if for no other reason than he holds the conch shell that had the power to call them all to assemble). This doesn't sit well with Jack, who was already experienced at leading his choir, and it becomes immediately obvious that a power struggle is inevitable.
Some ground rules are laid out, chief among them being that a signal fire must always be kept burning in order to be rescued. Jack's boys cease to exist as a choir, and take up as hunters in order to keep everyone fed; but what they truly amount to is Jack's personal army.
With Ralph leading, Piggy acting as something of an advisor, Jack providing sustenance, and a boy named Simon protecting and watching over the youngest boys (the "littleuns"), everything begins in harmony. They have set up their own little society on the island.
The first signs of trouble inevitably turn up when the littleuns begin suffering nightmares, and their talk of some Beast hiding on the island sends waves of fear rippling though their camp. It causes an invisible rift among them which grows larger over time, until the boys find themselves on two rival tribes: one that attempts to remain sensible and civilized, and one that devolves into violent savages.
It all seems like a game (boys playing war or cowboys and indians) that has spiraled out of control so badly that there is no going back. This is a horrific and powerful book that should be required reading--and these days it is in many schools.
Well written with some compelling characters whose motivations are never spelled out for you (meaning you have to decide for yourself based on their actions), I view Lord of the Flies as an allegorical study of the ill effects that unjustified fear can do to a society.
Namely, it goes to the pigs. Or the flies.
To put it into less literary terms, it's Survivor crossed with Kid Nation. Tell me that's not a show you would watch.