Pigs. What is it about pigs? We are somehow drawn to see the intelligence in them: Babe, Wilbur (from Charlotte's Web), Napoleon (from Animal Farm). There has always been something a little mysterious—sometimes cute, sometimes scary (yeah, I'm thinking of the pigs from the worst Hannibal book)—about pigs.
In this, the year of the pig, Josh Malerman brings us a malevolent little piggy with the power of mind control. And he's going to use his power to learn everything he can from those around him—until they aren't useful anymore.
While the story shows some interest in animal ethics—who are we to raise animals just to slaughter and eat them?—at its heart, it is a good little slasher novel that wants to go straight for the jugular and get some crazy farm-gore in your face.
Though the story is definitely engaging and I did love the creepy pig, I found myself wondering about the "rules" of the book and the pig, as they seemed to keep changing throughout: some people he controls like puppets, others he gives viciously real hallucinations to, and so on. I also wasn't sure of the end game—there didn't seem to be a point for the events of the book. What exactly is the pig trying to accomplish? I didn't feel like it was envisioned very clearly, beyond some type of unformed hatred for the people who had done him wrong. (And it did seem specific to him, since he sure didn't feel that other pig lives mattered.)
I found myself wondering if this might be one of Malerman's "vault books"—you know, a manuscript he wrote a long time ago that they dug up and brushed off and said, well, this is pretty good. Let's publish this. Because it is pretty good and I really did enjoy it, but the level of writing did not feel as strong as Malerman's more recent works and there were some techniques that I consider more juvenile, like lots of all-caps to let the reader know someone is shouting and an overuse of exclamatory marks. Those things just aren't really necessary.
Overall, I had fun with this book, but it isn't Malerman's strongest. I am glad to have it as part of my collection, though, and I'm always interested to read the totality of an author's body of work.
I would be remiss not to mention the errors that I found throughout the book. For an esteemed publisher like Cemetery Dance putting out higher price-point special edition books, I was fairly disappointed with the amount of simple grammar and style errors throughout this volume. Any decent proofreader would have caught things like the difference between "its" and "it's," misused homonyms, and other small errors. It's not make-or-break, but these things definitely do detract from the quality of my reading experience and it was disappointing to see them in a book like this.
Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.