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Pig boy by J. C. Burke
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Pig boy (2011)

by J. C. Burke

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Showing 5 of 5
This book never really captured my attention. Violent at times, I found eighteen year-old, Damon Styles an obnoxious protagonist. Angry, rude, surly and with a huge chip on his shoulder, his only redeeming quality is his kindness to animals. However, I did find the Pigman an interesting character. Struggling with memories of war it is the Pigman who has a beneficial influence on Damon. This will probably appeal to boys but I really struggled to reach the end of this book. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 23, 2016 |
Pig Boy Book Recommendation
Stuart Benjamin 8s
Pig Boy (2011) is a Thriller and a Drama written by J.C. Burke. It is about a heavily disturbed and bullied boy, who is abandoned by everyone around him and only finds solace with another outsider and freak called the Pigman. This book revolves around the issues of the nature of bullying, the stereotypical views of the community, and high school massacres, yet puts its own spin on this within the genre.
The main character is Damon Styles, a boy you don’t know whether to sympathise with or be horrified by at the beginning of the book. He is an angry character and always has an ironic outlook on those around him, in fact he loathes them. Burke paints a picture, putting in small references to a dark shadow in Damon’s mind. Damon mentions his lists of names, how he will learn about guns, the horrible thing in his closet. You know something’s wrong. Damon and his mother stand out as the bully target of the town. Damon can only talk to one character freely, Moe at the corner store, and he loathes him as well. The high school principle Pascoe, is the antagonist. He pretended he cared about Damon, but that was a lie. When the family received death threats in phone calls, and Damon recognized them as from a boy from his school, he came to Pascoe only for him to ignore his plea because that boy’s father was funding new gear for the school. It’s this sort of fake sympathy that really made Damon mad, so he put Pascoe on his list.
The structure of Pig Boy really accentuates Damon’s isolation. Starting the book with this ugly description of a kid on his own, the hidden messages gradually reveal that Damon is not the monster in the book but the victim instead. About halfway through the book you realise that something terrible has happened to Damon, something much worse than all his other horror stories. With continuous references to the Marshall brothers, and constant paranoia, Damon eventually reveals a gun, a murder that he witnessed. All the emotion locked up inside Damon is finally revealed in the charged and addictive concluding stages of the story. This structure where the twist in the story is gradually hinted to you is put to great use in this book, drawing in the reader and even making them question their own judgments.
There is a subgenre within the thriller based on the creation of monstrous children, which links many issues such as the relationship between mother and child, the rejection of a child in society and bullying to talk about this modern tragedy in society. An example of a book in that genre is We Need to Talk about Kevin. In that book, a mother who developed depression after struggling to make a connection with her child realised too late when the child went on to commit a high school shooting spree. In Pig Boy, the same mistrust between mother and troubled son is easily spotted, with both characters separated by a huge void of wariness. The aspects of bullying explored in this genre can be seen in many other genres and books with a violent and realistic edge, such as the Cherub series by Robert Muchamore. They all have the abandoned child in common, but whether that child is the evil or the innocent in the book is the question.
The main moral of this book reveals that the stereotypical tendencies of the community forced Damon into the monster it wanted him to be. The rejection of a troubled character such as Damon, the bullying that was ignored by adults and the way Damon couldn’t even trust his own mother all just added up to the way he turned out. If it wasn’t for Damon meeting a wise character, someone he could talk to, someone who saw him for who he was and someone who didn’t make a snap judgment of him and instantly become hostile, someone like Miro, the events in the story could have been a lot more gruesome. This book gives its own answer to the questions about the genre of child killers, saying that when the community gives up on a child, brands them a psycho and rejects them, it itself can become the monster.
In Pig Boy the structure and powerful retelling of feelings makes full use of the suspense and journey in Damon’s story. The book is filled with challenging themes aimed straight at our society, especially at the care of people society’s branded as rejects. The weight of the story stayed with me for days after – a terrific read. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to experience real feelings for a character, make that two characters who find each other in a paranoid and electric book, Pig Boy.
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  VeronicaCrothers | Dec 4, 2012 |
Adam Smagarinsky recommends Pig Boy (JC Burke)
Pig Boy is a thrilling and exciting book written by J.C. Burke who also wrote the best-selling book “Tom Brennan”. This book never manages to lose your attention with the amazing description painting magical pictures with every new scene.
Damon Styles is an overweight 18 year old teenager mocked by all his school ruthlessly and called names like Pig Boy and ‘OINK’. However Mr Pascoe, the Principal, promises change and then backstabs Damon by expelling him from Strathven High. Damon was hurt, and was known for his inability to handle stressful situations and turn it into aggression which worried some pupils.
Damon then finds a job with the local wild pig hunter to get some extra money but Damon himself isn’t sure if he was going to use the shooting skills he learns for something else, possibly to get back at his worthless school by a huge massacre. However, after spending many trips and nights with the pig hunter, it turns out that the Serbian pig hunter called Miro was a great caring friend with lots of wisdom and stories. His school finds out about his job and the students are scared not knowing what Damon will do next. The local police arrest him even though they have no clear evidence against him. Damon is devastated but sure that Miro will save him because he is a man of his word.
A key moral that can be learnt from this book is that when bad things occur good things evolve from it or when one door closes another door opens. When Damon is expelled from his school and believes he must learn to shoot and punish everyone that has hurt him over his life, he meets Miro, a great man who teaches him many important things about life and who is also a great trustworthy man.
If you read between the lines J.C. Burke may be indicating to the reader what turns good ordinary people just like Damon into heartless killers? Although this book isn’t true many situations like this have happened all over the world such as the massacre recently in Norway. So the author wasn’t only trying to entertain people but to relate a dreadful possible scenario to what actually happens in the real world.
I found this book is very interesting and always entices you to read more. Along the way you don’t just enjoy yourself but you learn that this not just about the effects of discrimination and bullying but also about Serbian customs and the war in Serbia and the lingering effects of war on former soldiers.
I would recommend this book for advanced twelve years old readers and up as some of this book contains swear words and other mature contents. This book suits people who enjoy real life situations not fantasy or other fiction stories.
  VeronicaCrothers | Dec 2, 2012 |
Review by Holly Harper, Childrens' Book Specialist -Readings.com.au
Damon Styles is angry. Angry at his mother for never getting out of bed. Angry at Andrew Parker and Darren Geraghty who antagonise him at school, making pig noises and calling him Damoink. He’s even angry at his friend Moe for the way he laughs. School is no safe haven: Damon is a smart kid who excels at writing, but unless his talents lie in sport, none of his teachers want to know about it. Everyone is determined to see Damon as trouble, and so he is. When he's finally expelled from school on his eighteenth birthday, Damon just keeps on feeling angry, except now he has a plan – he’s made a list of names, and he’s going to get his firearms license. Then he’s going to work for the Pigman hunting pigs. That way he’ll learn everything he needs to know to make things right.

I haven’t been this impressed with a main character in quite some time. Damon isn’t a nice, polite boy. He isn’t the sort of kid you’d expect to find helping little old ladies with their shopping. But he's not just all rage either. He's a complicated character, and you can't help but feel for Damon. Despite the angry outbursts, despite the shell he wears, you can see why he’d feel the way he does.

But it’s not just Damon who shines in Pig Boy – all of the characters are fascinating, and work together to build a claustrophobic world that produces a young man like Damon, from his misguided mother to the school principal who’s had enough, and especially the Miro the Pigman who takes the struggling Damon under his wing. JC Burke has created an absolutely unforgettable cast of characters in Pig Boy, and I have no doubt that this confronting book will appeal to everyone who has ever felt like the world is against them.
  nicsreads | Dec 12, 2011 |
Confronting, fascinating, times when I felt I couldn't breathe due to the tension. The characters are beautifully described and the emotions churned up whilst reading this from tears to anger.
Haven't read anything that moved me as this did in a very long time. A strangely beautiful, thought provoking book. ( )
  SadieScrawls | Sep 1, 2011 |
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On Damon Styles's eighteenth birthday, he is expelled from school. But it's what happens afterwards that changes everything. Now Damon must come up with a plan. It's the only way he can think straight. First, get his firearms licence. Then, see if the Pigman will give him a job - pig hunting will teach Damon what he needs to know. And hed better get a lock for his wardrobe so his mother won't find what he's hiding...… (more)

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