Books · Science Fiction

Review: Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff

I started Bad Monkeys on my way to work this morning and finished it by 9:15 a.m. The rest of the day I kept replaying the ending in my head, over and over again. This is really one of the most brilliant works of fiction I’ve read! I’ve been telling everyone at work to read this, today. The thing is, when I like something this much it’s difficult for me to be coherent about it (most of my favourite books took dozens of re-readings before I manage to think about them properly enough to write a review), so I’ll just go with first impressions.

This science fiction thriller is told from the point of view of Jane Charlotte, a murderer detained at a psychiatric ward. She claims to be part of an organisation that fights evil – evil being explained as those who are truly irredeemable, as opposed to normal criminals. Most of the novel is actually an interview between Jane Charlotte and a psychiatrist, where she would explain about how she got into her work and what exactly she did, detailing the events that led to her making a mistake and getting caught. The psychiatrist would at intervals act as a fact-checker, confirming some of the information she divulges, and questioning others. Even as her story gets nearer to the end, I wasn’t prepared for how everything turned out. I can’t really say how it ends because it is really not something I would spoil for anyone (and I usually love spoilers), but it was definitely mind-blowing.

The fact that it is mostly backstory made this book seem a bit slow when I first started it, but the prose is witty and easy to read, and it gets more engrossing as I read on. I liked how it questioned the nature of evil – it’s not as complex as Lukyanenko’s Night Watch books, but it definitely gave me a lot to think about. A couple of blurbs on the back page compared it to the first Matrix movie, but I think the closest thing I’ve experienced to Bad Monkeys is really Palahniuk’s Fight Club. Since I’m reading this for February’s GotM promotion, I get to borrow the store’s copy, but I loved it so much that I’ll definitely be getting my own copy when February comes!

~ originally posted on blogspot


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