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Bad Monkeys Paperback – July 24, 2007

3.9 out of 5 stars 125 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this clever SF thriller from Ruff (Fool on the Hill), almost everyone is a bad monkey of some kind, but only Jane Charlotte is a self-confessed member of The Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons. Or is she? In a series of sessions with a psychotherapist in the Las Vegas County Jail nut wing, Jane tells the story of her early life in San Francisco and her assimilation into the Bad Monkeys, an organization devoted to fighting evil. Crazy or sane, Jane is still a murderer, whether she used a weapon like the NC gun, which kills someone using Natural Causes, or more prosaic weaponry. Still, nothing is quite what it seems as Jane's initial story of tracking a serial killer janitor comes under scrutiny and the initial facts about her brother, Phil, get turned on their head. At times the twists are enough to give the reader whiplash. Ruff's expert characterization of Jane and agile manipulation of layers of reality ground the novel and make it more than just a Philip K. Dick rip-off. (July 24)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Matt Ruff's fourth novel, a speculative thriller and takeoff on secret agent fiction, is clever, highly imaginative, fast-paced, hallucinatory, and even maniacal. It's also a satirical (and somewhat philosophical) riff on American society, good versus evil, and reality versus illusion. Jane Charlotte, who proves to be a totally unreliable (but intriguing) narrator, had critics guessing about her-and the Bad Monkeys-until the very end. While Bad Monkeys has whiffs of Philip K. Dick, G. K. Chesterton, Brian Azzarello, and Thomas Pynchon, a few critics thought that without Ruff's crazy tricks (which some thought too preposterous), Bad Monkeys would be a ho-hum novel. The verdict: extra suspension of disbelief required.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (July 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061240419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061240416
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,816,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jessica Lux on January 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
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 and 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 Charlotte. The author delivers a surprise ending worthy of a tale with this level of manic energy.

Visit author Matt Ruff's website to read the soundtrack of music he "listened to obsessively while writing this book."
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This novel begins so well, and is so fast-paced and compulsively readable, I was recommending it to people left and right .

Then I finished it.

To make a movie comparison, this is like the Matrix trilogy, where 2/3 (3/4 ?) through the story, all the interesting story arcs and subplots are abruptly dropped, and the story finished quickly in a bizarre, disjointed and unsatisfying manner.
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One of the finest writers of American fiction working today, Matt Ruff is one whose work remains unfamiliar to most, due perhaps to his keen interest in science fiction and fantasy, and his elegant literary mastery of both. But he's an important writer worthy of widespread attention simply because of his ample artistic talents. He's an elegant literary stylist whose most endearing quality is a consistently uncanny ability to create memorable characters within mesmerizing tales. He's a smart, brilliant writer who can transport the reader to a vivid "Dudgeons and Dragon" fantasy set on the campus of his collegiate alma mater, Cornell University ("Fool on the Hill") and then, many years later, inside the fertile imagination of a young woman afflicted with multiple personality disorder ("Set This House in Order"). Ruff is truly notable for being able to plunge successfully into fantasy, cyberpunk and psychological science fiction in a remarkable literary career that now spans twenty years; his early works "Fool on the Hill" and "Sewer, Gas & Electric: The Public Works Trilogy" remain cult classics still treasured by those familiar with his sparse output. Hopefully, with "Bad Monkeys", Matt Ruff is now poised to acquire the vast audience that his ample literary talents deserve. Why? In "Bad Monkeys" he offers the reader a heart-pounding original twist on the very nature of evil, wrapped up in a terse, film nourish thriller, that owes as much to Philip K. Dick, as it does to great crime fiction novelists like Elmore Leonard, in its engrossing exploration not only on the very essence of evil, but also in focusing upon one's own motivation to commit heinous deeds against humanity.Read more ›
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I read this book in a day. ANd not really a day, I started around 2pm, and it's 8:30pm now. I was at work when I read it, so I was interupted alot. I say this as an example when I say, I could not willingly put this book down. It grabbed me, and not only refused to let go, but when I looked down, I saw that I had grabbed IT. I have no idea how to talk about this book without giving anything away. The basic plot, and I mean basic, is that our main character, Jane Charlotte, has been arrested for murder. She tells the cops that she is a member of a shadowy organazation that fights evil, and the book is an interview with a police psychiatrist interspersed with her telling him how she came to be a part of this organization.

After that, I'll leave it up to you to read this. And, if you enjoy an excellent read that illicits all sorts of comparrisons, from Palahniuk to Moore, then you'll enjoy this. It's unique, at least as far as books I've come across. And I can't think of a better thing to say about a book other than that it was an excellent read, and that it's unique.
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Okay, let's start out at the beginning. This book was amazing in every aspect, from the plotline (A secret organization of assasins?! Classic, but great.) to the characters (A lady that acts schizophrenic for her own sake even though she is really quite sane makes an appearance.) to... about five pages before the ending. (Jane has her NC gun pulled on our main villain, and then...)

Let me tell you of my experience the ten minutes after finishing the book: nearly crying, I searched through the remaining (blank) pages, convinced that this was some sort of joke, that the real ending was sure to come. The final twist was a baseless, cliched character-destroying move that had me crying, "Matt Ruff, what are you thinking?!"

In the end, I had to write a new ending and tape it to the back of the book to put my broken heart to rest.

'Course, the book was still amazing. Until it ended. Read it, PLEASE read it, but just stop at the point I mentioned earlier. Please.
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