... extraordinarily imaginative ... This is an allegorical text that brings to mind Kafka’s darker stories or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006), not only for some shocking violence and some beautiful prose, but, also like Kafka and McCarthy’s fiction, because the intended allegory is opaque, so the novel can be read in several ways, as about the climate crisis, generational debt, immigration, and much more. But perhaps most remarkable is that as well as building a rich, fable-like world, Stoberock simultaneously weaves an engrossing and breathless narrative about the human capacity for both destruction and survival.
... reads like a parable or a Greek tragedy ... Pithy, earthy language conveys complex truths. Amid grunting pigs, slimy refuse, and few belongings, the kids develop into thoughtful characters, eliciting compassion and respect. In contrast, the adults act like kids, abandoning responsibility. Undeveloped, they serve as warnings ... The focus toward the end of the book narrows, and the tone becomes more self-reflective as the action gains gruesome intensity. The end is an effective rupture of the way things were. Devastating and hopeful, the book champions reform from the inside out ... Against a backdrop of environmental crisis, Pigs is a modern fable, though less a tirade about climate disaster than a coming-of-age story for adults.
... uses stereotypes—the rapacious, prosaic nature of these beasts—to amplify the grotesque impulse of want and greed inherent in both animal and man ... From the first page, this book reads like a holy text, heavily allegorical and laden with symbolism ... The prose is clear and uncomplicated ... highlights the disconnect between '[t]he world put[ting] its crap out in a bucket on the street for Monday’s pickup' and thinking that 'that’s the same thing as making it disappear' ... beautiful and unsettling.
... immersive and visionary postmodernist ... an allusive novel keenly aware of the hypocrisy of the adult order, and governed by the knowledge that children today are under threat from the carelessness of adults ... falls within a tradition of questioning, oblique enchantments, written to evoke a dream state, to give singular expression to many anxieties, rather than to call up a one-to-one correspondence with the world’s many tangible problems. The threat of climate change looms in the novel, but so, too, do the threats of consumerism and gluttony. And while the anxieties the author addresses in the novel could have resulted in a more paranoid book, Pigs feels innocent, suggestive more of an author’s anguish about the world’s condition than her anger or blame. It is a fable for adults, a fairytale whose violence is akin to The Brothers Grimm rather than anything Disney might offer ... sentences cast their spell by blurring the boundary between fairytales and the familiar or organic ... a novel for intrepid readers with intense interest in what we owe other human beings, what we owe children, and what we owe our world ... not completely explicable, but its mysteriousness is a thing of beauty, and allows us to keep revisiting the text to plumb its meaning.
I will not call it a dystopian novel because that’s not really what it is—the desert island on which the entirety of Pigs takes place is utopia’s jetsam, its twisted underside, not its opposite ... Pigs might be more productively read...as an allegorical system bringing to the surface contradictions latent in the seemingly smooth fabric of the Real for which it serves as a fitful transliteration. Considering any of the novel’s eerily oneiric scenes or characters entails diving much deeper than the storybook language would at first lead you to believe ... The island unites contrarieties and invites the reader to tease out their constellations, to map the slight modifications and shades of degrees that separate innocence from terror, treasure from trash, and the best of all possible worlds from whatever horror is necessary to keep its gears turning.
This expressive but bizarre novel by Stoberock is a deeply strange take on our quickly developing environmental challenges that falls somewhere between The Lord of the Flies, The Maze Runner, and every other fantasy novel that pits the children of our planet against a dying world ... As a metaphor for climate change and humanity’s deepening arc toward self-destruction, the novel works fine, but Stoberock’s lyrical prose and lifeless characters rob the story of any juice. It doesn’t help that the grown-ups are grotesque, not only barbecuing and devouring one of the invaluable pigs, but also threatening to kill and eat the kids ... An artfully written fable has plenty of messaging but its storytelling lacks luster.