Posts Tagged ‘monkey with guns’

From time to time it happens that I find in the bookstore a novel which I have never heard of but that at the same time makes me incredibly curious. Sometimes those books turn to be a delightful surprise, such as Empress. Other times, though, they become bitter disappointments. Well, this is the risk one takes when he lives his life to the limit (at least where books are concerned)


Strong points: one of the main characters is a talking, one-eyed, cynical monkey that fights against ninjas Nazis using two oversized Colts; the initial setting of the novel.

Weak points: it all becomes an over-dramatized cliché, developing of both characters and story, really predictable and without surprises.

Ack Ack Macaque is a novel written by Gareth L. Powell which tells us the story of three unlikely heroes who find themselves on the middle of a conspiracy against the Commonwealth’s royal family. A journalist who is recovering from a terrible accident that has left her unable to read or write, the heir to the throne and a talking monkey with a knack for mischief and violence must join forces in order to stop the cult of the undying from fulfilling their plans.

Gareth L. Powell brings us an original setting that manages to entrap the reader for the first quarter of the book. The author has designed a complex society with its own rules, rewriting the history of Europe to create this new world in which France and England have joined under the British throne in order to create the Commonwealth, a powerful political block. Technology has evolved differently with airships called Skyliners replacing airplanes as the main mean for air transportation, being each one of this transports considered an independent nation. Humans also have been planted a machine which connects to the brain and produces a backup copy of the host so he or she can say their farewells in the event of sudden death. In short, the amazing society has been created to the utmost detail, including its citizens’ behaviors making it a believable experience which is undoubtedly the strongest part of the story.

Sadly, after the first chapters we witness the Sleigh’s Effect: it starts going downhill and can’t be stopped. The whole story becomes a sequence of clichés badly pasted together, an overdramatized chain of events that makes less and less sense the further you read into it. Some scenes seen copied from Hollywood’s basic scenes and are scattered across the book leaving the reader confuse about what are they doing there in the same place, such as the scene in which Julie talks to her father or any short of romantic interaction between her and the prince, which feels superficial and unrealistic, not for the nature of the romance itself but because of how it is approached and the dialogue used.

The story’s development feels forced and sometimes even improvised by the author on the spot, some example of these moments are the identity of the saboteur of the skyliner or the meeting with K8. There are even some sequences that don’t make sense by the rules we have been given by the author, like Vic’s liberation, which seems just a way to advance the plot whatever it takes. Some characters or events are forgotten during the books, and others, such as the commodore’s sudden death one chapter away from the ending (which is never explained how it comes to past, it’s just a radio message saying “oh, by the way, he is dead”) are just means to reach the predictable ending of the novel. As said before, by the end of the book you are left with the feeling you have been witness to a collage of raw and disorganized ideas that may have given an amazing result if only they had been neatly ordered.

The three main characters are original in their design and quite promising when you start reading the book, being both original and fresh. When it comes to their development, though, they may disappoint the reader. In some cases , such as the Monkey’s, this development is non-existent, being a completely linear character with some insecurities from time to time which he soon forgets and have not weight whatsoever on the story . Victoria’s and Merovech’s development is irregular, sometimes even chaotic. They don’t seem to follow a plan. For example, at the beginning Victoria seems comfortable with her implants, but suddenly half way through the book suddenly she is worrying that it makes her less human. The main events’ effects on these characters wear off soon, leaving no mark in their personality
Also, the author falls in the (what I personally find) irritating habit of explaining everything several times, such as the plans of the antagonists, which are described five or six times throughout the novel. As a result of this over-explanation the reader has all the information from the very beginning, which makes the book predictable to say the least and, sometimes, dense.

Getting published is hard enough nowadays, so I myself like to read a book always taking into account the fact that the author has been able to get someone to publish it. I sincerely believe that Mr. Powell is not a bad author, he has got some really interesting ideas and his imagination runs wild through the pages, but the book has been a slow read which from time to time I was tempted to abandon. Probably the writers I have been reading lately have spoilt me with their good work, or maybe I am too demanding as a reader but Ack Ack Macaque was a disappointment.


¡Hasta la próxima!

Ps: If you have any Fantasy or Science Fiction book recommendation, feel free to write it down on the comments. I am always open to new books and appreciate any titles you send.