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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2007
Pig Island is a fictional island off the western coast of Scotland, and it's the title of Mo Hayder's latest release. It's a great story with perversion, death, mystery, and some good surprises. Hayder started her career with two wonderful novels, Birdman and Treatment, told in the classic police procedural framework. She then wrote The Devil of Nanking; and although I didn't enjoy that as much as the first two, it was still fun to read. Pig Island is just plain spooky until the very end, when a plot twist spoils the effect she tried so hard to create through the rest of the novel.

"Oakesy", or Joe Oakes, makes a living as a journalist who debunks paranormal claims and beliefs. A video taken by passengers on a small cruise ship shows a beast with a long tail walking on Pig Island's beach. Oakesy finds a way on the island so he can prove to the world that there's no satanic beast roaming the island and sacrificing wild pigs. When he gets there, he realizes there's a madman on one side of the island with a very sick psyche.

The book is really worth reading, and I had a hard time putting it down. When I finished, I just wanted to say "Oh, come ON!" I could immediately think of five better endings for the book, and then it would've been an easy five stars, right up there with her first books. Keep at it Mo--I wish you'd publish more frequently!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2007
I've given Birdman to people who claim they can handle anything, because there is a moment in the last part that is one of the most horrifying scenes I have ever read. But the fact is, endings are not Mo Hayder's forte. The chainsaw bit at the end of Birdman had me snarling, "Oh come on!" And the final "surprise" in Pig Island works the same way. Yes, it explains some things, like who killed one of the central characters, but the horrible things it explains are left for us to figure out, without even an suggestion that we might want to think about them. And the inconsistencies -- pointed out in another review -- are inexcusable. Being told that something trusted witnesses were sure of did NOT happen was another show-stopper for me.

This is not to say I don't buy the idea that the killer is who it turns out to be; it is to say that I'm buying it in spite of Hayder's poor presentation of the solution. In other words, it could have happened, but NOT the way Hayder said it did.

I'm a big fan of Hayder's work. She has a talent for exploring the unthinkable and leaving the most hardened reader shaken. But Pig Island was a major disappointment after The Devil of Nanking. I didn't care about the characters, I didn't buy the explanation, and frankly, I'm sorry I read it.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
"Pig Island" was supposed to be scary. The first part "Craignish" is where the action centers. Then the story shifts to a stalker novel, only the stalker never quite seems to materialize. It's not until the ending that we understand why; however, most of the novel is spent waiting for the other shoe to drop, which never seems to happen. The characters in the story are not appealing. Joe Oakes is a driven reporter who keeps repeating to various people that he loves his wife. This is the only evidence of his love for her in the book. He chronically treats her thoughtlessly. His wife Lexie is trying to have an affair with a doctor whose receptionist screens his calls. She seems more obsessed with Christophe than with her husband. The scene on the phone where she screams at him and wonders why he doesn't love her is pathetic in its dysfunctional communication. Why Oakes goes into depression after her demise is a mystery. The way the book's written, he should be experiencing relief. The evil character of Malachi Dove never does actually show up in the book, other than in the brief flashback detailing the history between Oakes & Dove. It's very hard to create a compelling stalker story without a stalker present. The demonic publicity is certainly (thankfully) misdirection. The cult members in the first third of the book are thinly drawn. The character of teenager Sovereign is probably the most interesting, with the scene where she smells Oakes in lieu of touching is also incredibly dysfunctional and odd. Angeline is a compelling waif. However, her many sides from abuse victim to her disability to the implications of what her character did with which the ending leaves us do not hang together well. She seems a composite of pieces that never quite fit. Lexie's rage and assault on Angeline also seems to come out of the blue, particularly for one who is a "medical professional." One of the main problems with "Pig Island" is that none of the characters are likeable nor do they seem real. The main characters seem more like plot points than people. I did find the beginning of the book effective, but the last three-fourths were forgettable. Taxi!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 16, 2009
Wow. What a fascinating read - and definitely quite different from what I expected. After enjoying Hayder's Jack Caffery series, I thought her standalone novels would be in the same sort of vein. This one definitely falls under more of the horror genre than the mystery/thriller genre. It was definitely an entertaining read, but was surprisingly dark. Hayder is certainly a talented writer, and her story ideas are certainly original, but this one was definitely stranger than most. I did enjoy reading this, but part of the mystery was given away by reading the acknowledgments (so beware of that! These acknowledgments are placed at the end for a reason - and you will spoil part of the story if you skip to them!). And there were definite hints to the ending twist... it does seem to beg for a sequel, as there were a few loose ends but, all in all, I really enjoyed reading this, and I do hope that a sequel will be written some day. I will definitely keep an eye for more of this talented author's work.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2010
Having just read The Devil of Nanking, I was excited to read Pig Island. it came as a complete disappointment. In Devil of Nanking the atmosphere, characters and plot line are strongly drawn, frightening and the tension is fantastic. Pig Island is the complete opposite. The premise of the book- a reclusive cult on a remote Scottish island at war with its founder and sightings of a strange "dimorphe" stalking the forests and beaches- is striking but the characters are so weakly drawn. The voice of the principal character Joe Oakes is totally unbelievable and the central plot event is dispensed with in a few pages with the rest of the book devoted to unnecessary subplots such as Joe's wife's infatuation with her surgeon boss and letters to her psychiatry. The police procedural is inane and two thirds into the book I gave up caring what the denoument would be. When it comes, rushed and compressed into a few paragraphs it seems pointless and arbitrary. Was the message of the book that Evil really does have a tail??? Very weak structure and characters, poorly thought out scenes, wooden dialogue, giant plot holes made the book tedious to read and made me question if it was the same author as the brilliant Devil of Nanking.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This book began very well. It was exciting and interesting. However, the plot slows significantly after about a quarter of the book, and the weak character development and lack of depth of information was enough to sink it for the rest of the way. I would have liked to see Hayder develop more of the cult character and let her main character interact with them more, but she didn't. Instead it is all about death, death, and death right away, with nothing left to carry the book the rest of the way through. She also could have done more with the idea of summoning demons and other creatures, but she left all very shallow. In the end, she took the reader through a strange journey which was not all that exciting, through conversations on bestiality, spina bifida, and other incongruent issues. Finally near the end the book twists, turns and then ends, which would have been great except that it was all too obvious. Better character development and more consistent plot would have made this book much better in the end. It is not something I would recommend.

The Sureshot
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2006
Strangely, if you look at the Amazon UK website, many reviewers there complained that the story was slow going, that the events on the island seemed to go nowhere etc. Nonsense. The plot is excellent, full of surprises, and very intelligently constructed. The final twist will hit most readers from nowhere. Well, maybe not any more after the warnings in the reviews.

Apart from the devil mystery, the main theme for me is the ideology of the faith healing sect, which is the reason for most things that go wrong for the protagonists.

Mo Hayder is one of the best at real darkness and cruelty. Her level of violence sometimes reaches borders and occasionally one might question her taste.

Why "only" 4 stars? MH chose to let the story be told by two of the characters in the story. That has it's pros, but the downside is, that the narration can not get smarter than the narrators. And both of them are quite dumb, specially the second one, Lexy, but the main one too, Oakesy. They are both not people that you sympathize with, so following them in their stupidity can get tiresome.

Maybe not a good strategy for telling a story.

Am looking forward to a possible movie, will be quite a challenge.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2007
I didn't realize until I finished Pig Island that I had just read the strangest crime noir novel ever. Angeline is fiction's most bizarre femme fatale; a scheming beauty with a twist (or should I say 'tail'?). This novel doesn't always work, including, unfortunately, the ending, and it doesn't help that Oaksey is a character you find yourself rooting against, but Pig Island is worth a read to those looking for something a little odd.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2007
About: Mysterious happenings on an island, reporter tries to get the real story

Pros: Fast paced, engaging story, looked forward to picking up again after putting it down.

Cons: The "twist" ending that was hyped by the blurbs on the back cover had me all psyched, but the end left me disappointed, especially since the book itself was so good. I'd have preferred a "normal" ending.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2012
I was a big fan of Mo Hayder's book 'Skin'. I thought it was just great. But this book. I find myself skimming entire paragraphs and thinking, when, when, when, will something happen? It is slow and boring. I don't care about the characters and am quite annoyed at the lack of a bad guy. Yeah, I know, it's supposed to be scarier if you have to 'imagine' the bogie man, but this is ridiculous. I don't think I'll bother finishing it.
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