Matt Ruff,
Bad Monkeys
(HarperCollins, 2007)

Bad Monkeys is a book certain to satisfy fans of science-fiction, of mysteries and of conspiracy thrillers. Author Matt Ruff masterfully combines all three genres in his fourth novel, which is anything but "genre fiction."

The novel opens in the psychiatric ward of the Clark County Detention Center (Las Vegas, NV). Accused murder Jane Charlotte explains to her psychiatrist that her alleged crime was authorized by a covert organization dedicated to crime prevention. Jane was an operative in the Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons ("Bad Monkeys"), regularly dispatched to eliminated evildoers who eluded the justice system. Her life story revolves around this organization and its departments of Ubiquitous Intermittent Surveillance (Panopticon), Optimal Utilization of Resources & Personnel (Cost-Benefits), internal affairs (Malfeasance) and the Scary Clowns. She tells her story from childhood to date as her psychiatrist gently points out inconsistencies between her version and the official record.

The reader is left to question, "Who is Jane Charlotte?" Ruff layers the story with basic questions of good vs. evil (characters named Wise, True and Love all make appearances) as he leaves the reader with riddles upon riddles about the sarcastically funny Jane. The author delivers a surprise ending worthy of a tale with this level of manic energy.

Visit the author's website to read the soundtrack of music he "listened to obsessively while writing this book."

review by
Jessica Lux-Baumann

23 February 2008

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new