Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Book Review: Pig Island

Before writing my review, I would like to point out that I do not read thriller novels even though they are so popular currently. This is not for any real reason except that I have not found the time really. So I had few expectations when I read this book.

It begins very well. The author, Mo Hayder, draws readers in right away with action and mystery. The premise was exciting: there is a mysterious cult on an island and a journalist is going out to interview them. He has a history with their leader, and wants to find him. However,I was very interested from the beginning. I was immediately disappointed with the lack of character development, especially with the main character, Joe. Descriptions and details were good as was the dialogue, but there was something missing. I wanted to know more about Joe, but I was left wanting.

In the first part of the book all of the cult members are killed and Joe “saves” the daughter of the man responsible who has a deformity, a tail. This is what most of the controversy surrounded. Some people thought that she was a demon or something that Malachi, the groups founder had summoned. The author even uses the term biform, and has some of the people calling Malachi’s creature Pan or Satan, but does not go into this idea at all. It is sort of added to give the illusion of religious significance, but she does not support the use of the words and terms with any information. She also uses Bible versus but they seem to be out of place. At one point she used the story of Jesus healing a man named Legion because of all the demons in him. It seemed to fit given that they were on pig island, but the author decided to have Malachi stick the heads of the pigs on sticks, but never said why and skirted the issue by adding “I’m not sure even he (Malachi) knew.” I was not excited about that omission. It seemed she used it just because it would be exciting and scary, but it came off as lazy.

There was an attempt to develop an interesting character in Joe’s wife Lex. She came with him to Scotland, and their marriage is not going well, and she is seemingly in love with a doctor that she previously worked for. This is great. I thought that the author had solved the problem of having weak characters by creating Lex, but then…she killed Lex. I was mad at this point. The only interesting character and she was dead. Hayder had a girl with a tail, and tried to build some sort of interesting character out of that (which is already pretty interesting) but the tail girl turns out to be a tart, and totally loses her appeal to me.

The book started off well, and lost its momentum early and in my mind never regained it. The last 300 plus pages of the book were mostly the suspense of “where is Malachi? He is haunting me! I am scared of him!” It was not enough to carry the book. And then in the last fifty pages the book twists, turns and then ends. I was disappointed. Especially since I saw it coming. It was all too obvious. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but you will see it coming too I suspect. If not then maybe you will love it, but to me I had to wait through a lot of pages that were suddenly talking about bestiality and strange sexual perversions just to get to the twist. Anticlimactic if you ask me.

Anyways, I would not recommend this book. I repeat that I have not read much in the genre, but I suspect that there are better writers with better characters, and more consistent writing from beginning to the end.

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