Pig Island – Mo Hayder

Pig_1Pig Island is Mo Hayder’s fourth novel.  For those who have read all four, there’s something that’s said with certainty now: Hayder goes to places that other authors don’t go.

A running theme with Tokyo her previous novel, Hayder is not afraid to introduce quirky, oddball, or severely damaged characters that live on the periphery of society for whatever reason.

In Pig Island we have a whole community living on the periphery.  All members arrived on Pig Island because they followed their leader and a secretive religious island community was established.  But when journo Joe Oakes arrives there to prepare for an article, he finds that the community is estranged from its leader, Pastor Malachi Dove.

Oaksey is a born sceptic and he’s also specialised in exposing supernatural hoaxes.  He and Dove also have a bit of a history. You could say that Dove was the catalyst for Oaksey’s scepticism and specialism…

What follows is a gripping and page turning read where question after question is raised and “the unspeakable things people can do to each other” unfold.

To say any more would destroy the surprises in the plot, of which there are many.

There are things we know about in life but have been lucky enough not to experience.  There are things so rare that only the minority of us is aware of their occurrence; the rest of us plough through life in happy ignorance.  Hayder taps into both and brings us the normally “unspeakable”, such is her niche and skill.

The characters are very well drawn as they are so rounded.  Initially I found it hard to determine if I had any sympathy or liking for Oaksey or his wife, Lexie; humans are never and neither should they be perfect.  By the end of the book, Hayder made sure where I’d find my loyalties.

If the thought of  the “supernatural” or “secretive religious community” puts you off this novel, don’t let it.  This is essentially a book about human relationships and how they can cause extreme harm.  One thing I can promise you, should you choose to read this novel – you won’t expect what’s coming.

Finally, one small gripe from me.  I finished the novel wanting to read it again, wondering if I’d missed something, as I wasn’t sure of the “motivation”…  Luckily one reading friend had “inferred” and another thought she had it “on the nail”.  Both imparted their thoughts, for which I’m grateful as I don’t have the time to re-read it right now.  It’s one of very few books that I’d like to re-read though, and not just because I think I missed something along the way.

With Pig Island, Hayder goes from strength from strength.  I won’t even try and imagine what she’ll come up with next.  I think the corners of Hayder’s mind are hinged onto the periphery of society.  I know not what is out there.  Hayder makes it her goal to take us there, inform us and entertain us as she does that.

“If you enjoy author X, then you’ll like Mo Hayder” – I don’t think you’ll find this banner on a Hayder novel.  She’s unique.  That’s what made me buy Pig Island after appreciating Birdman and The Treatment, but not liking Tokyo too much.  Hayder’s writing career is a mystery trip in itself.

If you love not knowing what’s around the corner, this book is for you.  If you’ve loved Hayder’s books to date, or the majority of them, this book is for you.

8 thoughts on “Pig Island – Mo Hayder

  1. Lynn Rogers

    I,too was a bit mystified by the ending and felt that I wanted to re read parts. Maybe I missed something but didn’t understand how Joe’s DNA got into the chapel. Haven’t had time to re read either and would be grateful for your friends’ insights if you would be prepared to share them. It was a great read – especially at 3am!!

  2. crimeficreader

    Sorry Lynn, I can’t help! It’s too long ago now. I can’t even remember which two friends specifically. I’ll ask one to take a look at your comment, to see if he can remember.
    Clearly the only way for me to get to the bottom of it, is to read it again one day!

  3. Smooth Booth

    I usually dont go through books as quick, read a few pages every night and i somehow manage to get through, this book however i was finished in a few days, i guess it was because i was frightened to put it down in case i forgot anything. Something i still cant figure out how it ended. In my opinion i believe it was Angeline who set it all up. But i want to hear from Mo Hayder on what actually happens, is there an actual discussion board for this or will i be left guessing. Thanks

  4. crimeficreader

    SPOILER WARNING
    I don’t know of any discussion boards with this topic on them sorry!
    Hayder’s site does have a “contact” section which gives her agent’s email addy. Perhaps you could try that route?
    It certainly looked like the daughter set it up. The elusive fact for me at the end was “why”.

  5. WomenXtra

    Spoiler Alert!!!!!
    I loved the book and enjoyed every second of it. I was disappointed towards the end knowing that Angeline was the cause behind it all. How can she be so evil and cunning? something is missing. I really wish someone would explain the vague areas of the book to explain the ending for us.
    The ending was sad, unexpected and painful. the book left me in shock for a whole day. That negativity towards the end (I feel) spoiled it. ;(

  6. Feastie

    !!Don’t read if you don’t want to know the plot!!
    My take on the plot was that Malachi had said he would, in some way, get to Oasksey in his death.
    Malachi paid the ultimate price by being sacrificed, by his daughter, who was in on it from the start (unless he just happened to die from natural causes). Angeline then plays the trump card by getting Oaksey to hide Malachi’s body under the dead pig without him knowing it. Angeline (or Malachi) could have planted Oaksey’s DNA (blood, flesh)in the church at any time during, or after, his ordeal with Malachi and the Axe.
    I may be wrong but it’s how I saw the plot unfold and it backs up Malachi’s threat of revenge.

  7. mreh

    My interpretation was simply that she was an incarnation of the devil, consisting of such evilness evident by killing her father and 30 other people (which is why she was always kept behind those fences on the other side of the island) and that malachi himself hadn’t even seen it coming when he told Oakesy he’d fuck him over (in other words)

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