Book Review: Bad Monkeys

Bad Monkeys
By Matt Ruff

Not My Edition:
Paperback, 227 pages
2007, Harper
ISBN: 9780061240423

Jane Charlotte sits in a white room telling a psychiatrist her story of how she was recruited by a secret organization whose mission is to rid the world of evil. Her story is unbelievable and action-packed, but is it only a story, or is there something to it?

I really knew nothing about this book going in and that’s probably best (I mean, I kinda think that’s best with most books honestly, but whatever) because the less you know about the plot in this book the more likely you are to be surprised by it (wow, again, feel like that’s almost every book).

This book was so fun and had me hooked so hard from page one that I read it all in one sitting (much to the detriment of Future Millie who still had to get up and go to work after a sad five hours of sleep), which is a rarity for me (excepting graphic novels or something).

Jane works for a group called the Bad Monkeys which is just one of many sections of “the organization” that works to eradicate evil from the world. There are several other departments like Good Samaritans, Scary Clowns, Malfeasance and Cost/Benefits and they work in specialized areas to take out those who are truly committing what they deem as evil. As Jane bumbles through recruitment it becomes clear there’s a counterpart to the organization; one trying to cause evil in the world.

I found Jane to be an incredibly likable character. She’s smart, bold, bull-headed, smarmy and…let’s say…questionable. “Questionable, Millie?” you ask. “What even does that mean?” Look, I hate the term “unreliable narrator” because I think it scares people away from books (kinda including myself in that group). Jane is the narrator but I don’t feel that she’s unreliable so much as unwilling to reveal all her cards from the get-go (getgo? Get go? I’ve never typed that before…). Take that as you will.

After perusing some reviews on Goodreads I can understand the problems people have with this book, but I don’t share the same outlook. I do think the ending was a little over-complicated (mentally I was whipping my head from side to side going, “he what?” “she who?” “wait, what?”) and maybe predictable for people who pay more attention than I do when reading. But I don’t think it detracted from how fun the rest of the story was, nor do I think it weakened the whole book.

I highly recommend this book for fans of the super-spy/agent tales that have some humor and especially fans of The Regional Office is Under Attack. Wow, this might be the first time I’ve ever done an “if you like this book, check out that book” type thing. Normally I’m really bad at that. But the whole badass female character, what the hell is going on plot, and shadowy supergroup with ultra-technology thing was really making me want to reread Regional Office.

Matt’s site.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Bad Monkeys

  1. I think I’m gonna add this book to my TBR. It sounds funny and I like the name of the departments of the spy org. I mean, I wonder what the Scary Clowns department does. I assume they go after Scary Clowns like the one in IT.

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