You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bad Monkeys

Matt Ruff's Bad Monkeys is a short novel about a young woman who is recruited into an ultra-secret organization that takes care of evil people that fall through the cracks of law enforcement. Jane Charlotte is a teenager when she first has a brush with the mysterious organization. While tracking a creepy janitor, Jane finds herself trapped in his house, and picks up the phone when it rings. She is startled to find someone saying her name and warning her about the danger she's in. This is her introduction to the people who have secret powers to track those they find suspicious.

Jane is recruited into Bad Monkeys (the division that dispatches those they find irredeemable) years later as an adult. She is unable to find a career or even stay off drugs for long, but the society thinks she can be useful. In her initial assignment she bends the rules but manages to do well enough to get grudging acceptance. Her assignments get more involved, until she is faced with a personal dilemma: it turns out her younger brother is involved too, and they might have different interests.

This world of Matt Ruff's is full of strange technology and people who may be sinister or benevolent but are certainly powerful. Jane Charlotte is a sly protagonist but not a wise one, and we learn to take her narration carefully. The story is framed as her giving her account to a questioner who is incredulous about her story, until at the end when the frame becomes the story and we learn about one twist and then another. Jane is interesting to follow, though her character could not carry a longer story without a little more development. There is a hint of insanity in her as well as the story that she relates, so she is not entirely an innocent victim. Some of the plot points are a little confusing even at the end. Still, it is a fun and harrowing read, full of action and suspense. B


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