Lord of the Fly Fest / Goldy Moldavsky / Book Review

The others swarmed to Fly Fest for the promised models, music, and paradise villas. Rafi came for one reason alone: River Stone. More specifically, an exclusive chance to interview River about his missing girlfriend--the sob story that launched his music career--for her podcast, Musical Mysteries. But when Rafi and the boatload of wannabe influencers arrive on the private island hosting Fly Fest, they find... nothing.

If there ever was a Fly Fest, it isn't here now. No musicians, no celebrities. No shelter. And the boats that brought them have left, not to return for another week. The others might just be lamenting the lack of Internet, but Rafi knows they have bigger fish to fry--quite literally. And she knows the type of people she's stuck on this island, including one River Stone. 


This book combines the real-life Fyre Fest fiasco with William Golding's classic Lord of the Flies, and I really, truly wanted to like it. Unfortunately, it was a "no" from me. This book is perhaps meant to be satirical, but it was missing some crucial element to make that satire work. In the end, it was simply exaggerated to an extreme that just wasn't fun to read. 


  • Lord of the Flies Ties: I really did like the Lord of the Flies elements that made it into this book. Any good retelling will embrace key components, and that's part of the fun, for the readers--finding those places of overlap. Piggy and his glasses here become Peggy and their Internet access. Level-headed Ralph becomes our protagonist Rafi. Jack the choirboy becomes Jack the makeup influencer. And there's a conch, because they're still on a tropical island. 
  • Jack: One of the biggest problems with this book is that none of the characters (except for self-righteous Rafi) made any decisions that made sense. But then there was Jack. Oh, he was as exaggerated as the rest, but unlike the rest, he still did some legwork. He went on the hike across the island to look for help. He clung to his sense of self as the world was falling apart. And he held onto his own code, as silly as it was, to the end. So he made internal sense, and he wasn't a complete and utter exaggerated idiot. I appreciated Jack. 
  • Grasping For Straws: The one other thing that made sense was how the influencer characters tried to make everything make sense. They had been scammed, but they didn't want to admit it. Denial is reasonable enough. And when there are conflicting stories and evidences to the contrary, why shouldn't they cling to whatever sanity they feel they have? It's better to think the party is here and they are just on the outside of it than to think they've been abandoned, perhaps forever, on a tropical island with no shelter and no Internet. 


  • OTT Influencers: There are very, very few people, "influencer" or not, who would prioritize their Instagram over their food supply. These influencers weren't people. They weren't even caricatures. They were missing some je-ne-sais-quoi that would have made them real, believable. They were very, very terrible--the level of terrible that the cats from the 2019 Cats movie were. Which leads us right into my next critique. 
  • Off-Key Satire: This book feels like it is meant to be satire, but it overshoots that mark. This book embraces the absurd, but not in a way that the satire masters do. We've got no Evelyn-Waugh-level critique of society here. These exaggerated characters don't point to anything really. To make matters worse, some of the more pointed passages--like the obvious revelation about Hella's "presence" on the island--are as insulting to the readers as they are to the influencers meant to be critiqued. Any book that has a celebrity called "Hella Badid" has likely missed the mark, at least as far as satire goes. 
  • River Stone: River Stone was Rafi's whole purpose for being on the island, but River and his subplot didn't add anything here. Ultimately, this potential-murderer plot goes nowhere (something you might guess from Rafi's terrible first episode to her podcast). There's little evidence, Rafi's podcast is terrible (yes, it does bear repeating), and it comes to nothing? There shouldn't be a plot included in a book if it will lead nowhere and wrap up into nothing. Especially not the only hook the book had to begin with. 



Fans of Kyra Leigh's Lizzie-Borden-inspired It Will End Like This will enjoy this new Lord-of-the-Flies twist on contemporary thriller. Those who enjoyed Ryan La Sala's Be Dazzled will like this new ultra-contemporary tale. 


Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Date: August 30, 2022
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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