August 30th, 2007

red panda eating bamboo

Review of Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff

I really loved Set This House in Order by Matt Ruff, which won the Tiptree Award, so I was looking forward to his next book, Bad Monkeys, which has just come out.

It's a quick read and fairly compelling. Throughout most of the book I find the protagonist really interesting. The writing is vivid throughout and although Ruff doesn't introduce a whole lot of really new ideas, he treats thriller/science fiction cliches with imagination. I'm sure this would make a fun movie, and I hope Ruff sells the movie rights for tons of money.

But I think Set This House in Order is quite a lot better—it treats many of the same themes but with more originality, sensitivity, and compassion, and it is a more compelling read.

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There were some expository lumps at the end that annoyed me—if I'd had more time to get to know the characters expositing those lumps, I might have cared more, but the characters weren't well drawn or introduced.

Overall the book felt to me as if Ruff had enjoyed himself and taken his time writing the first 2/3 and then started to feel rushed to finish and cut corners.