I had a bit of a low activity day today. Futzed around on the computer this morning, without any inspiration for a blog post. Did some laundry. Washed some dishes. Then took myself off into Newtown to grab a few things from the supermarket.
So I came home with a new book, some food, and absolutely none of the things I had actually set out to get. I can survive one morning without deodorant, right? I mean, if I rectify that situation pretty early and don't run into anyone I know, or get too close to any of the cashiers?
As always when I'm down the shops as my parent's used to say (like we lived in a village called Something Quaint-On-Sea) I popped into Better Read Than Dead for a browse. As always, I walked out with a new book. This time "Bad Monkeys" by Matt Ruff.
UK edition cover by Will Webb Design. The Australian edition cover is almost the same, except for the placement of the text for some reason.
I did something I haven't done with a book in ages, I started it as soon as I got home and the next time I looked at the clock I had been reading for around three hours. I've been reading it on and off while I made dinner, and now I'm around 3/4 finished already.
The story kicks off with a woman called Jane Charlotte being questioned for murder. Only she is being questioned by a psychiatrist and not a police officer, on account of the strange tale she told during her arrest. That she was a member of a secret organisation devoted to fighting evil. Her department, "The Department For The Final Disposal of Irredeemable Persons" or "Bad Monkeys" in the colloquial lingua franca of the organisation, is an execution squad. Designed to rid the world of Bad Monkeys, or at least ones that have been labelled as worth removing by the "Cost Benefits" department.
US cover design. I really like this Rorsach Test inspired design, and I'm not sure why they changed it for the UK and Australian editions.
Jane's story is told in extended flashback sequences, starting with her childhood and the situations that lead her to be recruited by The Organisation. Jane's story grows increasingly bizarre in the telling. Quite skillfully Matt Ruff blends enough elements of the plausible, the unlikely and the outright strange to make you want to believe Jane, then doubt her, then wonder if she's delusional. Every time the doctor seems to uncover possible holes in Jane's story, new twists take her tale in a new direction.
As mentioned in the NY Times Review the tone of the book does owe some to the novels of Philip K. Dick. The wry tone and use of the outlandish as every day. There are a few science fiction type elements, and the book also sits in the psychological thriller/crime novel genres.
I'm only about 50 pages from the end, and I can't wait to see what happens. It's been a while since I've read something this engaging!
[Updated: Finished! I really enjoyed it, and best of all there were some plot twists towards the end that I did not see coming! Very enjoyable.]