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Jane Charlotte has been arrested for murder.

She tells police that she is a member of a secret organization devoted to fighting evil; her division is called the Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons—"Bad Monkeys" for short.

This confession earns Jane a trip to the jail's psychiatric wing, where a doctor attempts to determine whether she is lying, crazy—or playing a different game altogether. What follows is one of the most clever and gripping novels you'll ever read.

Topics: Psychological, Secret Societies, Conspiracy, Female Protagonist, Adventurous, Mass Murder, Unreliable Narrator, Speculative Fiction, Las Vegas, and San Francisco Bay Area

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061809880
List price: $9.99
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Rating: 3.5* of fiveThe Book Report: Jane Charlotte has been arrested for murder.She tells police that she is a member of a secret organization devoted to fighting evil; her division is called the Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons--"Bad Monkeys" for short.This confession earns Jane a trip to the jail's psychiatric wing, where a doctor attempts to determine whether she is lying, crazy--or playing a different game altogether. What follows is one of the most clever and gripping novels you'll ever read.My Review: "Clever" is a good word for this book. In fact, maybe "clever-clever" is even better. "Jane Charlotte"? She needs a boyfriend named "Austen Brontë" in that case.And that is the very last and final connection anywhere within the oddly shaped covers of the book to Jane Austen or Charlotte Brontë. From here on, we're on a profane and sometimes profoundly blue trip through the Halls of Micturation that form Jane's psyche. Is she addled? Drugged? One helluva fast-thinking sociopath, like in The Usual Suspects?Dunno. About half-way through, I lost steam. See, this is the issue I perceive in so much bizarro/New Weird fiction. It goes on too long. It takes the joke, beats that sumbitch to death, scoops up the jellified meatiness, and then sets to stompin' on it in hobnailed boots. And after a while, one loses the desire to be on the sidelines looking on.So, a month went by, and I picked the book up again. (It was stabbing me in the kidney as I got into bed one night.) Idly flipping to the Book Dart (if you don't have these, get some, they're amazing), I resumed reading with a slight smothered yawnlet.*slog slog pantpant slog*And I finished the book, unable to toss it aside for one reason: I had to know how the HELL this guy was gonna get off the horse at the end of the ride.Good, good job, Sir Matt the Ruff. I did not see that ending happening.more
I really enjoyed Bad Monkeys, including most of the twists. I'd never heard of the author but he has a great imagination and is very talented with words.more
I'm late to the Matt Ruff fan club, I know, but I'm proud to be a member. I read this flashy lit-fic paranormal urban fantasy through one very late night. Booze is suggested.more
This book was strange. Its full of twists and turns that may or may not be true. Instead of reviewing it, I'll list a bunch of questions that may or may not explain this book.1) What is Good. What is Evil. Is it something that is with you from birth, or is based on your experiences?2) Is Jane Crazy? Does her Brother Exist? Does Jane Exist? Does anybody in this world Exist?3) Plot holes like crazy! Shortcoming of author, or the author is a genius?4) And last, what the hell did I just read? I have no opinions. I think I might reread this book. But I'm not sure if I want too... It makes my brain hurt... That is all.more
The bright yellow cover and different style presentation of the physical book were what brought it to my attention on the shelf at Goodwill. The title made me smile. Bad Monkeys, indeed. Fast-paced, intertwined back-story and present day, and a strong sense of the absurd kept it interesting. The central character, Jane Charlotte, has been arrested for murder. She tells the interviewing officer she works for an secret organization that fights evil, in the Department of Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons (aka Bad Monkeys.) This gets her a trip to the psychiatric wing. The book is in part her interview with a psychiatrist there and the back story to how she got involved in the whole shebang. Jane tells her life story, which has more twists than a pretzel. It's not such a particularly great one; suffice it to say she has plenty of opportunities to see evil and snuff it. At one point, with all the high-tech gizmos and action, I thought this would make a pretty good movie, along the lines of Men in Black or The Matrix. I can see it now, "Synopsis: A female protagonist struggles with her alter ego and, after being arrested for murder, claims to belong to a secret society that fights evil." Yup. It would work.more
Interesting, amusing, ends in sort of a mishmash. Three hours after finishing it, I can't recall if she was the heroine or the villain, which shows how memorable it was.more
I read the book during my holiday and it was perfect for this. It is a complete and utter mind fuck with conspiracy theories, double bluffs and triple agents and I loved every minute of it, how could I not? There’s even a bonus serial killer!more
As many of previous reviewers pointed out, this novel begins very strong and it ends very weak. This sounds not too bad but it is: What makes me angry (and I would like Ruff to give me my money/time back) is that it begins strong because it ends weak. Let me explain: It is not very difficult to make a really good beginning. You only have to make the reader think "How will this end?". And the reader will be rewarded if all the loose ends will be cleared in the end. But if they don't the reader will feel cheated, and that's what happens to the reader of "Bad Monkeys". It is like an Agatha Christie novel in which you are really curious who the murderer is and in the end Miss Marple tells you that she doesn't know because the case was too difficultmore
I normally don't like the sci-fi genre, but this is one of the good ones! I was surprised at how much I in fact liked this book. There are a lot of twists and turns at the end, but it still worked. I would read more by Matt Ruff. It would be nice if there really was an organization taking care of the bad monkeys in real life.more
I read this a couple of years ago. It confused my daughter so much that she cried and threw the book! I have to read it again to see if it makes more sense this time. It's a good book, but like "Total Recall," it makes you question everything you've read. Which part is true???more
Bad Monkeys took me by surprise, though I can't really say for sure what I was expecting. I'm a big fan of the "secret society that fights evil" trope when it's well executed, and this is pretty good. The story in a story format is vital to this book, and is carefully handled and does a great job doing what it's supposed to do.I've stared and stared at this review, and while there's more I could say, it really boils down to "this a really good book," and I think you should go read it.more
When I cant stay focused on a book, its never a good sign. An ok book, nothing more though.more
There haven't been too many books that I wanted to throw in a corner from frustration never to be picked up again. But Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff managed to reach this (in)tolerance level of mine all right, and it did so on its 70-something page, at about the third (!) of the novel.The whole reading experience started out quite well and hopeful though, with an intriguing (although not too original) story.White room: white walls, white floor, white table, white clothes, white white. We are supposedly in a psychiatric ward of a prison with the protagonist and her doctor, Richard Vale, who is conducting an interrogation of Jane Charlotte. She has been arrested for killing a certain Mr. Dixon. We learn right away that Charlotte is a member of a department (called Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons, in other words: Bad Monkeys) of a quasi secret organization that fights evil. Dixon's murder - according to Jane - was a mistake as he was actually not a bad guy.And so starts this unbelievably fast, unbelievably insane journey into the... nowhere.As I mentioned, at around the 70th page I started to feel uneasy about the novel - started to be afraid that all these gimmicks of Ruff's writing are just cover-ups for the unbearable nothingness of its existence. And boy was I right. A lot of critiques pointed out the evident "borrowings" from a huge amount of great writers of the genre, but sadly enough the protagonist also bears similarities with Evanovich's primitive Stephanie Plum (to whom I was introduced a couple of weeks ago so that I should not pick up another of her books again in my whole life). Consequently, I can't even tell that Ruff's resources were at least first-class literary persons.One of the main (and extremely frustrating) gimmicks of Ruff is that he tries to sell the stuff as a smart novel with deep, hidden philosophical meaning(s). Which, let me tell you honestly, could have been there: not the neverending "what is good, what is evil" problem (let's face it: it is a bit too big and a bit too general bite for even a much more knowledgeable person), but there is a dialogue-crumb towards the end between the bad Jane and the good Jane about the perception of reality - and this could have been a great concept for the novel indeed (starting somewhere around Berkely - esse est percipi - and Hume).What we left with though, is a totally pointless, pretentious... nothing. Not worth a minute of our precious reading time.more
Once I picked this book up, I couldn't put it back down. The story revolves around Jane Charlotte, who has just been charged with murder and is being interviewed in prison by a psychiatrist. She claims to work for a secret society that is erradicating evil from the world by killing "bad monkeys"--people who are considered evil to the point of being irredeemable. But is she telling the truth? The choice of such a questionably reliable narrator sets this novel apart from other science fiction thrillers on the market and keeps the reader guessing throughout the book. In addition, the sometimes quite likable "bad monkeys" raise the question of what defines evil and when is someone truly beyond the point of redemption. A page turner that encourages deep thought is a rare thing and I can't wait to read more from Matt Ruff.more
This one reminded me a lot of Christopher Moore books. A fact I guess other people must have noticed since they have a quote from Moore on the cover. Slightly less crazy characters but still over the top plot. I like this style of book but it just does not capture me the way some inferior books do just because I happen to like characters I can relate to better. In a way the writing style of both Moore and Ruff reminds me of the short stories I read for a Latin American literature class. The descriptions are amazing, the stories interesting, but I just can't actually feel anything for the characters because they are too removed from me. Of course these books were way funnier than that class.more
first line: "It's a room an uninspired playwright might conjure while staring at a blank page: White walls. White ceiling. White floor."This is a not-quite-dystopian novel of psychological suspense, requiring readers to parse out truth from lies and good from evil. It's a quick, gripping read, and I can easily imagine a movie adaptation.more
Addictive. Unpredictable. All the things a monkey tale should be.Jane Charlotte is in jail on murder charges, specifically in the psychiatric ward. Why? Well, her claim that she is a member of the Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons, a.k.a. “Bad Monkeys,” is a good start. Prison psychologist Dr. Vale listens to her personal history, starting with her recruitment into the secret organization at the age of fourteen, after her discovery that the janitor at her school was the Angel of Death. The Bad Monkeys were already on the case, but she didn’t find that out until it was almost too late. American philosopher and thinker Loren Eiseley once said,“I am not nearly so interested in what monkey man was derived from as I am in what kind of monkey he is to become.” So too the reader swings back and forth as they hear Jane’s tale. Is she herself a good monkey, or a bad monkey? Her story unfolds in a way that will seem eerily familiar to fans of the underground classic Illuminatus Trilogy. It’s a quick read, especially since you won’t want to put it down.more
I liked the book. I was more annoyed with the awkward binding of the book. It made it difficult to read. Overall though, NC guns, killer clowns...a fun readmore
An excellent thrill ride, with some nice twists. It even twists your perception of what is and isn't a cliché. Fast, enjoyable and begging to be turned into a film.more
Great book! My first of Matt Ruff's but certainly not my last. Intriguing, twisty, suspenseful and yet humorous, science fiction yes but written as if it were real. Very believable in its content, I didn't like the ending but I loved how the story line took me there and dropped me off the cliff as it were. Very profound in its detailed red herring approach. Can not say enough. Read it!more
The best way I can describe this book is that it was dark, comic, fantastical and ludicrous. I was drawn into the plot and will admit to wanting to see how it all came out, but it wasn't a piece of literature I would particularly recommend.more
The structure of Bad Monkeys is similar to The Usual Suspects. It is told as a long interview with Jane Charlotte, a thirtysomething woman being held in a psychiatric ward on a murder charge. Her story about how she came to commit the crime is a far-fetched, tin-foil-hat yarn, but it is supported by some documentary evidence gathered by the psychologist interviewing her. One of the chief pleasures of the book is the constant challenge to the reader: just how much do we want to trust our narrator?I completely enjoyed the first 3/4 of the book. It's blindingly fast-paced, but offers substance rarely found in thrillers. An example from early in the book: the psychologist challenges Jane on an apparent gap in her story. Jane replies that the conflict is a "Nod problem." This is a reference to the land of Nod, the place Cain goes after he's banished for killing Able. The problem is that Cain and Able are the sons of Adam and Eve-- there shouldn't have been any other people around to live in the land of Nod. Jane offers the Nod problem as an example of the subjectivity of epistemic judgments: if you already believe the bible is true, you take the Nod problem as a mystery that has yet to be solved. If you believe the bible is false, you take the Nod problem as evidence of its falsity. Says Jane to her shrink: "It's the same with this. Don't pretend this is some kind of objective inquiry for you. You've already decided what you believe. All you're doing now is looking for a club to beat me with until I agree to see things your way."Unfortunately, things fall apart toward the end. The fundamental problem is that Ruff all but abandons the intimate, thoughtful threads that run through most of the novel. The last quarter is devoted to a hail of plot twists and choreographed action that forces him into an approach that reads like a novelization of a screenplay that hasn't been written. There are even Matrix-like special effects.Despite the dud ending, Bad Monkeys is a good read. It's thought-provoking, exciting, and funny.more
This book is told as a narrative by a woman named Jane Charlotte currently in detention, to a psychiatrist who is evaluating her over a period of visits. The woman regales her interviewer about how she was recruited as an adult in San Francisco by a secret organization devoted to assassinating sexual predators and mass murderers. As the story progresses of this almost destitute woman getting by on minimum wage jobs, there is increasing mention of technologies that probably don't exist, events that couldn't have likely happened in our space-time continuum, leading to the reader wondering about the sanity of the main character or whether this is a science fiction story set (way) in the future. As the story progresses, more and more mention is made of Jane's youth and early adulthood. These earlier mysterious tumultuous periods are less interesting to the reader as the exciting thriller that's happening in present day, and as her engagement with the secret organization revolves more and more around understanding what Jane is 'made of' and her earlier times, the story drags. The plot moves to Las Vegas and starts to move quickly at a thriller-like pace. While the story could progress nicely on its own when not dealing with historic sturm un drang of Jane, the author resorts to adding more and more mention of new secret organizations, technologies, and more, constantly roiling the text so that no expectations can be made about the real-time events in the story. All in all, a wonderful plot line and fresh approach to the narrative, the author injures the novel in places by over-making his point--sometimes less is more.more
Jane Charlotte has been arrested for murder; she claims to be operating for an organization that fights evil, in its Bad Monkeys division. She reviews her history with a prison psychiatrist.Jane is an interesting character, the only real person in the book. Everyone else, except possibly her little brother, exists just to interact with her and set her problems to solve. The depiction of the organization for which she claims to work is both hilarious and fascinating; they have means of observing all of us, and of fighting, that are kinda scary and kinda neat.The style of the book is breezy, if occasionally a bit clunky, and doesn't detract much from the quick progression of the story. The book promises us a lot of uncertainty but instead end up telling us more than this reader wanted to be told. Overall, a quick, quirky, mostly fun read that left me thinking of cool things that the author could have done to make it wonderful.more
I’m glad Matt Ruff didn’t fall into the superhero trap when writing Bad Monkeys. Superheroes and their respective movies are annoyingly everywhere these days, and it’s getting really boring. Instead, Ruff delves into the more interesting realm of secret organizations and the psychologically jarring surveillance they use to either maintain or take control. Real people using gritty manipulation to get what they want, without the super dooper special effects.Without giving away the details, we are introduced to Jane Charlotte and her situation. She’s just been detained by the authorities, and we subsequently learn about her seemingly aimless life, culminating in an active career inside an organization, THE organization, purposed to find and eliminate those in civilized society deemed “bad monkeys”. From the hazy fog of San Francisco to the deserts and aching lights of Las Vegas, we are told a twisting, bending story in which we are constantly asking ourselves whether we have the whole story. Mayhem, scary clowns, mind alterations and machinations…it’s all here.Everything in Bad Monkeys is written with color: the characters, the action, the intrigue and the manipulation. It’s not exclusively a work of sci-fi, though there are definite moments where reality and belief are playing ping-pong in dreamlike suspension. But the novel is as Orwellian as it is weird and that’s slightly disconcerting in a good way. Surveillance is a major theme, and its parameters are absurdly carried out to its obvious conclusions; the MO is called “Eyes Only”, and while one may consider the details a bit too fantastical, know that bionic eyes apparently are being tested as I write. In any case, Bad Monkeys is an entertaining, creepy, puzzling, and fast read that’ll keep you thinking.more
A great read. Fun and a bit shocking.more
This book goes down as smoothly as the best whisky or perhaps a perfectly blended iced latte. A perfect light read with a wonderful little twist. This is yet another book that absolutely sped you along to the end and when it was done I wanted more.more
This is a fun and quirky book-lots of twists and turns and a nice surprise ending. I definitely recommend it!more
Brilliant. I immediately wanted to read it again. Reminiscent of "I Am The Cheese" in its what-is-real theme which develops slowly and perfectly. A fast read, with great descriptions that you can fly right through if you're too impatient to find out what happens next. This guy cites Evil Willow as one of his muses and proves himself worthy of such a claim. The characterizations are great, the plot is brilliant in all its twists and turns, and the ending wraps things up just the right amount -- not too neat, not too open-ended. Read it now!more
Read all 46 reviews

Reviews

Rating: 3.5* of fiveThe Book Report: Jane Charlotte has been arrested for murder.She tells police that she is a member of a secret organization devoted to fighting evil; her division is called the Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons--"Bad Monkeys" for short.This confession earns Jane a trip to the jail's psychiatric wing, where a doctor attempts to determine whether she is lying, crazy--or playing a different game altogether. What follows is one of the most clever and gripping novels you'll ever read.My Review: "Clever" is a good word for this book. In fact, maybe "clever-clever" is even better. "Jane Charlotte"? She needs a boyfriend named "Austen Brontë" in that case.And that is the very last and final connection anywhere within the oddly shaped covers of the book to Jane Austen or Charlotte Brontë. From here on, we're on a profane and sometimes profoundly blue trip through the Halls of Micturation that form Jane's psyche. Is she addled? Drugged? One helluva fast-thinking sociopath, like in The Usual Suspects?Dunno. About half-way through, I lost steam. See, this is the issue I perceive in so much bizarro/New Weird fiction. It goes on too long. It takes the joke, beats that sumbitch to death, scoops up the jellified meatiness, and then sets to stompin' on it in hobnailed boots. And after a while, one loses the desire to be on the sidelines looking on.So, a month went by, and I picked the book up again. (It was stabbing me in the kidney as I got into bed one night.) Idly flipping to the Book Dart (if you don't have these, get some, they're amazing), I resumed reading with a slight smothered yawnlet.*slog slog pantpant slog*And I finished the book, unable to toss it aside for one reason: I had to know how the HELL this guy was gonna get off the horse at the end of the ride.Good, good job, Sir Matt the Ruff. I did not see that ending happening.more
I really enjoyed Bad Monkeys, including most of the twists. I'd never heard of the author but he has a great imagination and is very talented with words.more
I'm late to the Matt Ruff fan club, I know, but I'm proud to be a member. I read this flashy lit-fic paranormal urban fantasy through one very late night. Booze is suggested.more
This book was strange. Its full of twists and turns that may or may not be true. Instead of reviewing it, I'll list a bunch of questions that may or may not explain this book.1) What is Good. What is Evil. Is it something that is with you from birth, or is based on your experiences?2) Is Jane Crazy? Does her Brother Exist? Does Jane Exist? Does anybody in this world Exist?3) Plot holes like crazy! Shortcoming of author, or the author is a genius?4) And last, what the hell did I just read? I have no opinions. I think I might reread this book. But I'm not sure if I want too... It makes my brain hurt... That is all.more
The bright yellow cover and different style presentation of the physical book were what brought it to my attention on the shelf at Goodwill. The title made me smile. Bad Monkeys, indeed. Fast-paced, intertwined back-story and present day, and a strong sense of the absurd kept it interesting. The central character, Jane Charlotte, has been arrested for murder. She tells the interviewing officer she works for an secret organization that fights evil, in the Department of Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons (aka Bad Monkeys.) This gets her a trip to the psychiatric wing. The book is in part her interview with a psychiatrist there and the back story to how she got involved in the whole shebang. Jane tells her life story, which has more twists than a pretzel. It's not such a particularly great one; suffice it to say she has plenty of opportunities to see evil and snuff it. At one point, with all the high-tech gizmos and action, I thought this would make a pretty good movie, along the lines of Men in Black or The Matrix. I can see it now, "Synopsis: A female protagonist struggles with her alter ego and, after being arrested for murder, claims to belong to a secret society that fights evil." Yup. It would work.more
Interesting, amusing, ends in sort of a mishmash. Three hours after finishing it, I can't recall if she was the heroine or the villain, which shows how memorable it was.more
I read the book during my holiday and it was perfect for this. It is a complete and utter mind fuck with conspiracy theories, double bluffs and triple agents and I loved every minute of it, how could I not? There’s even a bonus serial killer!more
As many of previous reviewers pointed out, this novel begins very strong and it ends very weak. This sounds not too bad but it is: What makes me angry (and I would like Ruff to give me my money/time back) is that it begins strong because it ends weak. Let me explain: It is not very difficult to make a really good beginning. You only have to make the reader think "How will this end?". And the reader will be rewarded if all the loose ends will be cleared in the end. But if they don't the reader will feel cheated, and that's what happens to the reader of "Bad Monkeys". It is like an Agatha Christie novel in which you are really curious who the murderer is and in the end Miss Marple tells you that she doesn't know because the case was too difficultmore
I normally don't like the sci-fi genre, but this is one of the good ones! I was surprised at how much I in fact liked this book. There are a lot of twists and turns at the end, but it still worked. I would read more by Matt Ruff. It would be nice if there really was an organization taking care of the bad monkeys in real life.more
I read this a couple of years ago. It confused my daughter so much that she cried and threw the book! I have to read it again to see if it makes more sense this time. It's a good book, but like "Total Recall," it makes you question everything you've read. Which part is true???more
Bad Monkeys took me by surprise, though I can't really say for sure what I was expecting. I'm a big fan of the "secret society that fights evil" trope when it's well executed, and this is pretty good. The story in a story format is vital to this book, and is carefully handled and does a great job doing what it's supposed to do.I've stared and stared at this review, and while there's more I could say, it really boils down to "this a really good book," and I think you should go read it.more
When I cant stay focused on a book, its never a good sign. An ok book, nothing more though.more
There haven't been too many books that I wanted to throw in a corner from frustration never to be picked up again. But Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff managed to reach this (in)tolerance level of mine all right, and it did so on its 70-something page, at about the third (!) of the novel.The whole reading experience started out quite well and hopeful though, with an intriguing (although not too original) story.White room: white walls, white floor, white table, white clothes, white white. We are supposedly in a psychiatric ward of a prison with the protagonist and her doctor, Richard Vale, who is conducting an interrogation of Jane Charlotte. She has been arrested for killing a certain Mr. Dixon. We learn right away that Charlotte is a member of a department (called Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons, in other words: Bad Monkeys) of a quasi secret organization that fights evil. Dixon's murder - according to Jane - was a mistake as he was actually not a bad guy.And so starts this unbelievably fast, unbelievably insane journey into the... nowhere.As I mentioned, at around the 70th page I started to feel uneasy about the novel - started to be afraid that all these gimmicks of Ruff's writing are just cover-ups for the unbearable nothingness of its existence. And boy was I right. A lot of critiques pointed out the evident "borrowings" from a huge amount of great writers of the genre, but sadly enough the protagonist also bears similarities with Evanovich's primitive Stephanie Plum (to whom I was introduced a couple of weeks ago so that I should not pick up another of her books again in my whole life). Consequently, I can't even tell that Ruff's resources were at least first-class literary persons.One of the main (and extremely frustrating) gimmicks of Ruff is that he tries to sell the stuff as a smart novel with deep, hidden philosophical meaning(s). Which, let me tell you honestly, could have been there: not the neverending "what is good, what is evil" problem (let's face it: it is a bit too big and a bit too general bite for even a much more knowledgeable person), but there is a dialogue-crumb towards the end between the bad Jane and the good Jane about the perception of reality - and this could have been a great concept for the novel indeed (starting somewhere around Berkely - esse est percipi - and Hume).What we left with though, is a totally pointless, pretentious... nothing. Not worth a minute of our precious reading time.more
Once I picked this book up, I couldn't put it back down. The story revolves around Jane Charlotte, who has just been charged with murder and is being interviewed in prison by a psychiatrist. She claims to work for a secret society that is erradicating evil from the world by killing "bad monkeys"--people who are considered evil to the point of being irredeemable. But is she telling the truth? The choice of such a questionably reliable narrator sets this novel apart from other science fiction thrillers on the market and keeps the reader guessing throughout the book. In addition, the sometimes quite likable "bad monkeys" raise the question of what defines evil and when is someone truly beyond the point of redemption. A page turner that encourages deep thought is a rare thing and I can't wait to read more from Matt Ruff.more
This one reminded me a lot of Christopher Moore books. A fact I guess other people must have noticed since they have a quote from Moore on the cover. Slightly less crazy characters but still over the top plot. I like this style of book but it just does not capture me the way some inferior books do just because I happen to like characters I can relate to better. In a way the writing style of both Moore and Ruff reminds me of the short stories I read for a Latin American literature class. The descriptions are amazing, the stories interesting, but I just can't actually feel anything for the characters because they are too removed from me. Of course these books were way funnier than that class.more
first line: "It's a room an uninspired playwright might conjure while staring at a blank page: White walls. White ceiling. White floor."This is a not-quite-dystopian novel of psychological suspense, requiring readers to parse out truth from lies and good from evil. It's a quick, gripping read, and I can easily imagine a movie adaptation.more
Addictive. Unpredictable. All the things a monkey tale should be.Jane Charlotte is in jail on murder charges, specifically in the psychiatric ward. Why? Well, her claim that she is a member of the Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons, a.k.a. “Bad Monkeys,” is a good start. Prison psychologist Dr. Vale listens to her personal history, starting with her recruitment into the secret organization at the age of fourteen, after her discovery that the janitor at her school was the Angel of Death. The Bad Monkeys were already on the case, but she didn’t find that out until it was almost too late. American philosopher and thinker Loren Eiseley once said,“I am not nearly so interested in what monkey man was derived from as I am in what kind of monkey he is to become.” So too the reader swings back and forth as they hear Jane’s tale. Is she herself a good monkey, or a bad monkey? Her story unfolds in a way that will seem eerily familiar to fans of the underground classic Illuminatus Trilogy. It’s a quick read, especially since you won’t want to put it down.more
I liked the book. I was more annoyed with the awkward binding of the book. It made it difficult to read. Overall though, NC guns, killer clowns...a fun readmore
An excellent thrill ride, with some nice twists. It even twists your perception of what is and isn't a cliché. Fast, enjoyable and begging to be turned into a film.more
Great book! My first of Matt Ruff's but certainly not my last. Intriguing, twisty, suspenseful and yet humorous, science fiction yes but written as if it were real. Very believable in its content, I didn't like the ending but I loved how the story line took me there and dropped me off the cliff as it were. Very profound in its detailed red herring approach. Can not say enough. Read it!more
The best way I can describe this book is that it was dark, comic, fantastical and ludicrous. I was drawn into the plot and will admit to wanting to see how it all came out, but it wasn't a piece of literature I would particularly recommend.more
The structure of Bad Monkeys is similar to The Usual Suspects. It is told as a long interview with Jane Charlotte, a thirtysomething woman being held in a psychiatric ward on a murder charge. Her story about how she came to commit the crime is a far-fetched, tin-foil-hat yarn, but it is supported by some documentary evidence gathered by the psychologist interviewing her. One of the chief pleasures of the book is the constant challenge to the reader: just how much do we want to trust our narrator?I completely enjoyed the first 3/4 of the book. It's blindingly fast-paced, but offers substance rarely found in thrillers. An example from early in the book: the psychologist challenges Jane on an apparent gap in her story. Jane replies that the conflict is a "Nod problem." This is a reference to the land of Nod, the place Cain goes after he's banished for killing Able. The problem is that Cain and Able are the sons of Adam and Eve-- there shouldn't have been any other people around to live in the land of Nod. Jane offers the Nod problem as an example of the subjectivity of epistemic judgments: if you already believe the bible is true, you take the Nod problem as a mystery that has yet to be solved. If you believe the bible is false, you take the Nod problem as evidence of its falsity. Says Jane to her shrink: "It's the same with this. Don't pretend this is some kind of objective inquiry for you. You've already decided what you believe. All you're doing now is looking for a club to beat me with until I agree to see things your way."Unfortunately, things fall apart toward the end. The fundamental problem is that Ruff all but abandons the intimate, thoughtful threads that run through most of the novel. The last quarter is devoted to a hail of plot twists and choreographed action that forces him into an approach that reads like a novelization of a screenplay that hasn't been written. There are even Matrix-like special effects.Despite the dud ending, Bad Monkeys is a good read. It's thought-provoking, exciting, and funny.more
This book is told as a narrative by a woman named Jane Charlotte currently in detention, to a psychiatrist who is evaluating her over a period of visits. The woman regales her interviewer about how she was recruited as an adult in San Francisco by a secret organization devoted to assassinating sexual predators and mass murderers. As the story progresses of this almost destitute woman getting by on minimum wage jobs, there is increasing mention of technologies that probably don't exist, events that couldn't have likely happened in our space-time continuum, leading to the reader wondering about the sanity of the main character or whether this is a science fiction story set (way) in the future. As the story progresses, more and more mention is made of Jane's youth and early adulthood. These earlier mysterious tumultuous periods are less interesting to the reader as the exciting thriller that's happening in present day, and as her engagement with the secret organization revolves more and more around understanding what Jane is 'made of' and her earlier times, the story drags. The plot moves to Las Vegas and starts to move quickly at a thriller-like pace. While the story could progress nicely on its own when not dealing with historic sturm un drang of Jane, the author resorts to adding more and more mention of new secret organizations, technologies, and more, constantly roiling the text so that no expectations can be made about the real-time events in the story. All in all, a wonderful plot line and fresh approach to the narrative, the author injures the novel in places by over-making his point--sometimes less is more.more
Jane Charlotte has been arrested for murder; she claims to be operating for an organization that fights evil, in its Bad Monkeys division. She reviews her history with a prison psychiatrist.Jane is an interesting character, the only real person in the book. Everyone else, except possibly her little brother, exists just to interact with her and set her problems to solve. The depiction of the organization for which she claims to work is both hilarious and fascinating; they have means of observing all of us, and of fighting, that are kinda scary and kinda neat.The style of the book is breezy, if occasionally a bit clunky, and doesn't detract much from the quick progression of the story. The book promises us a lot of uncertainty but instead end up telling us more than this reader wanted to be told. Overall, a quick, quirky, mostly fun read that left me thinking of cool things that the author could have done to make it wonderful.more
I’m glad Matt Ruff didn’t fall into the superhero trap when writing Bad Monkeys. Superheroes and their respective movies are annoyingly everywhere these days, and it’s getting really boring. Instead, Ruff delves into the more interesting realm of secret organizations and the psychologically jarring surveillance they use to either maintain or take control. Real people using gritty manipulation to get what they want, without the super dooper special effects.Without giving away the details, we are introduced to Jane Charlotte and her situation. She’s just been detained by the authorities, and we subsequently learn about her seemingly aimless life, culminating in an active career inside an organization, THE organization, purposed to find and eliminate those in civilized society deemed “bad monkeys”. From the hazy fog of San Francisco to the deserts and aching lights of Las Vegas, we are told a twisting, bending story in which we are constantly asking ourselves whether we have the whole story. Mayhem, scary clowns, mind alterations and machinations…it’s all here.Everything in Bad Monkeys is written with color: the characters, the action, the intrigue and the manipulation. It’s not exclusively a work of sci-fi, though there are definite moments where reality and belief are playing ping-pong in dreamlike suspension. But the novel is as Orwellian as it is weird and that’s slightly disconcerting in a good way. Surveillance is a major theme, and its parameters are absurdly carried out to its obvious conclusions; the MO is called “Eyes Only”, and while one may consider the details a bit too fantastical, know that bionic eyes apparently are being tested as I write. In any case, Bad Monkeys is an entertaining, creepy, puzzling, and fast read that’ll keep you thinking.more
A great read. Fun and a bit shocking.more
This book goes down as smoothly as the best whisky or perhaps a perfectly blended iced latte. A perfect light read with a wonderful little twist. This is yet another book that absolutely sped you along to the end and when it was done I wanted more.more
This is a fun and quirky book-lots of twists and turns and a nice surprise ending. I definitely recommend it!more
Brilliant. I immediately wanted to read it again. Reminiscent of "I Am The Cheese" in its what-is-real theme which develops slowly and perfectly. A fast read, with great descriptions that you can fly right through if you're too impatient to find out what happens next. This guy cites Evil Willow as one of his muses and proves himself worthy of such a claim. The characterizations are great, the plot is brilliant in all its twists and turns, and the ending wraps things up just the right amount -- not too neat, not too open-ended. Read it now!more
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