Hive Monkey by Gareth L. Powell
|Book Name:||Hive Monkey|
|Author:||Gareth L. Powell|
|Genre(s):||Science Fiction / Steampunk|
|Release Date:||December 31, 2013 (US) January 2, 2014 (UK)|
The attack macaque is back!
Fresh (well, ish) from saving the world from nuclear meltdown in Ack-Ack Macaque, our titular monkey is having a bit of a meltdown of his own. Struggling with the sudden fame that has been thrust upon him, he is having a hard time dealing with a world in which he is not only mortal and no longer invincible, but also the world’s only talking, sentient monkey. Despite the companionship of the other crew of the airship Tereshkova–teenage hacker K8, scarred ex-journo Victoria Valois and her hologrammatic husband Paul–where he is working as a pilot, our tough-talking, fast-shooting, rum-and-banana-guzzling hero is *whisper* lonely…
He’s also a little bored, but that doesn’t last for long. When SF writer William Cole escapes from a car bomb and hides out on the Tereshkova in the skies above Bristol, the last person he expects to meet is his own dying doppelganger. Alternate Bill is running away from an alternate dimension where a sinister hive mind is trying to take over not only that universe, but, through interdimensional travel, every universe they discover. There’s only one monkey who can stop them, and when they kidnap his oldest friend and comrade in arms K8, it’s up to Ack-Ack Macaque to fly to the rescue, and confront the mastermind behind the Hive plot, and the last person he ever expected to meet.
Hive Monkey is a slightly more thoughtful novel than its whizz-bang predecessor, and there are some musings on the nature of what it is to have friends, and to be human (and monkey) that wouldn’t be out of place in a Philip K Dick novel. But these introspective moments are set against a background of explosions, swearing, more explosions, shoot-outs, a spitfire chase along the M4 corridor, more swearing, yet more explosions…. Hit after hit after hit, until the reader is left breathless, reeling slightly and in severe need of a banana daiquiri.
It’s not perfect. It’s too short–a consistent problem with Gareth L Powell’s novels, and it does suffer slightly from being the middle book of a trilogy. While the ending is a little too neatly resolved, at the same time things are left wide open for the sequel, and it would have been nice to see a few more loose ends tied off. And the prose does fall prey to repetition, particularly in the first third of the book, but these are fairly minor quibbles in what is otherwise a thrill-ride from explosive beginning to, well, equally explosive climax. Hive Monkey is heaps of fun, cleverer that it first appears, and with a hidden heart that’s really rather sweet.