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Posted December 29, 2012
I can't remember the last time that I had so much fun reading a
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I can't remember the last time that I had so much fun reading a novel. Gareth L. Powell has penned a fantastic Alternate History/Science Fiction novel with memorable characters and a wonderfully inventive plot.
As noted in the book description, the novel is set both during World War II and in the latter half of the 21st Century in a world where Great Britain and France are under the British Monarchy*. I found the unified France and Britain concept in the novel extremely well done. It's really easy to accept the what-if of the world in Ack-Ack Macaque.
There is mystery, murder, intrigue, a runaway Prince, and scientists who think they are doing the right thing for humanity (we know where that leads). The novel moves at a breathtaking pace from place to place revealing ever more about the characters as well as the cause for the murders.
I can't say enough about the title character, Ack-Ack Macaque. He is simply superb. He's a simian of action, a larger than life hero! I adore him. Victoria, the Prince, and the other main characters were all appealing and interesting. They have difficult choices to make and you will root for them, as I did, to find the killer, figure out what is going on, and hopefully save the world.
There are some lovely touches in the novel - 1) alliterative names (e.g., Victoria Valois, Mindy Morris, and others) that fondly reminded me of comics and some of my favorite childhood cartoon shows; 2) news reports and blog posts, and 3) illuminating chapter headings.
Ack-Ack Macaque is over-the top and action-packed with an ending that is both exciting and ultimately satisfying. Gareth L. Powell has crafted a crisply written, engrossing and very entertaining novel.
A side note: The book includes extras at the end including the short story, Ack-Ack Macaque, that is the first appearance of the monkey Ack-Ack Macaque. It was published in Interzone and then in The Last Reef, a collection of short stories by Gareth L. Powell. I'm also happy to note that a sequel to Ack-Ack Macaque, Hive Monkey, will be coming in 2014!
*As noted in a recent interview with Mr. Powell, "union" talks between the two nations actually took place in the 1950s, but obviously the union did not occur.
Posted January 20, 2013
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