Wednesday 1 June 2011

Pig Boy

Pig Boy by J.C Burke (Random House)
PB RRP $18.95
ISBN 978-1-7416-6312-9  
Reviewed by Oliver Phommavanh

J.C Burke’s impressive track record continues with her new book. It may attract some controversy but it also raises awareness of the issues of bullying and boys.

Pig Boy is the name given to Damon, or better known in his small town as Damoink. He’s a boy on the fringe of society, an outcast at school who prefers to stay cooped up at home and play violent computer games. It’s easy to place Damon into a profile of a psycho maniac who might shoot up the school one day. It’s a rumour that grows stronger when Damon is expelled from school, weeks before his final exams.

Angry, hurt and lonely, Damon conspires to get rid of his enemies. He puts strain on his relationship with Mum, which is already at breaking point. He gets a job with another social outcast, the mysterious Pigman. But it’s not long before the town’s gossip catches up to him and he’s forced to lay everything bare.

Burke doesn’t hold back with Damon’s narrative. It’s hard-hitting, shocking and brutally honest. It’s not the swear words that make the most impact, it’s the descriptions of Damon’s emotions as he struggles to overcome his fears of being bullied. Burke captures the emotions of a victim being pushed to the edge and lets the readers make up their own mind about him. You won’t be forgetting Damon in a while.
Pigman almost steals the book with his gentle humour and gritty revelations about his past. Their relationship is strong male bonding without the clichés, just two confused people itching to spill their secrets but afraid of what will happen if they do. The story pushes towards one conclusion but hangs a hard-right into a twist of its own.

Pig Boy is an intelligent novel that pushes you out of your comfort zone. A riveting book that’s hard to put down. Highly recommended for ages 15 and up.      

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