on 15 February 2014
Just finished reading 'Hive Monkey' tonight - had to get the review in as soon as. I wasn't sure that Gareth Powell could top the success of 'Ack-Ack Macaque', but I think he has. This series just keeps getting better and better. I can't wait to read further adventures involving the monkey and his adopted 'troupe'- just as soon as you can, Mr Powell, please?
By the way, does anybody think these stories would adapt really well to graphic novel format? Come on, publishers - what about it?
As for all you sci-fi/fantasy/steampunk readers out there, do give these books a try; they're tremendous fun and keep you grabbed until the last chapter - love them, love them, love them!
on 1 February 2014
Last year I came across the name Ack-Ack Macaque and I just knew I had to take a closer look. What followed was a wild fantasy ride that left me wanting more. And, lucky me, more there is.
Hive Monkey does not disappoint if you're a fan of the first book. If anything it takes the already brilliantly twisted idea and improves upon it. It pushes the lead characters further, drives the story to an even more insane place and the action never lets up.
If you're suffering from the beginning of year blues then I say hail a passing Spitfire and hang on for one hell of a flight to hell and back!
on 1 February 2016
This alternate world adventure hits the ground running and doesn’t let up as the action continues full-bore throughout this entertaining read. While I have read the first book, I think you could dive into this series with Hive Monkey, as Powell ensures new readers are fully briefed. Ack-Ack is a cigar-chomping, foul-mouthed, hard drinking character who is all too keen to get involved in bar brawls as his constant anger and loneliness finds an outlet in such behaviour. For all the chirpiness of the narrative, there is a poignant undertow as all the main characters grapple with life-altering loss. The monkey leaps off the page with splendid vividness, such that I’m very grateful I’ve only encountered him between the pages of a book – I certainly wouldn’t want to invite him to dinner…
The other main characters are similarly adrift – the airship captain Victoria Valois, whose brain is augmented by experimental gelware after suffering major brain damage; her hologram husband, Paul who is uploaded in the ship’s operating system. And K8, the young hacker who initially freed Ack-Ack from the corporation who had been exploiting him, before he burned out and died like all his predecessors, as well as struggling science fiction writer, William Cole. As Powell shifts between his main characters while the story hurtles forwards, we get to learn about the sorrows and losses that motivates each of these people.
What could so easily be a fairly downbeat read avoids being so because there is a bounce and relish to all the mayhem. I very much enjoyed the zaniness of the storyline and the twisting plot – chiefly because Powell writes with attention to detail and ensures there is rigour in his plotting and science, despite the oddness. There are a couple of nifty surprises that I really enjoyed and the antagonist was also all too believable, as well as creepily convincing.
All in all, this is a thoroughly enjoyable, engrossing read.
on 5 February 2015
Hive Monkey is the second novel in Gareth L Powell’s Ack-Ack Macaque series, a series I was eager to read more of after the impressive – and BSFA award winning – first novel, Ack-Ack Macaque. When I read the first novel last year I was surprised at what I found. Rather than a light-hearted steampunk romp I found an intricate and absorbing sci-fi story with a unique and rather enjoyable anti-hero. There was also much more to the novel than I initially thought, so wondering where Powell would take things with Hive Monkey was high on my list of priorities. And let me say this: I wasn’t left disappointed.
From the publisher:
In order to hide from his unwanted fame as the spitfire-pilot-monkey who emerged from a computer game to defeat the nefarious corporation that engineered him, the charismatic and dangerous Ack-Ack Macaque is working as a pilot on a world-circling nuclear-powered Zeppelin.
But when the cabin of one of his passengers is invaded by the passenger’s own dying doppelganger, our hirsute hero finds himself thrust into another race to save the world – this time from an aggressive hive mind, time-hopping saboteurs, and an army of homicidal Neanderthal assassins!
Now famous all over the world, Ack-Ack Macaque is piloting the airship Tereshkova for its owner and his friend, Victoria Valois. Among others on the ship are K8, a teenage hacker that Ack-Ack has grown close to, and Victoria’s holographic husband, Paul, who has moved past the constraints of his soul catcher to inhabit the ship’s computers. When popular SF writer William Cole escapes an attempt on his life and ends up on the Tereshkova, Ack-Ack, K8, Victoria, and Paul are drawn into a mysterious web of lies and intrigue when Cole’s double from a parallel universe turns up dead on the ship. Add to this the hive-mind cult, the Gestalt, are growing in power and size, and appear more involved in events the deeper Ack-Ack and the crew look.
Now that we’ve got that little bit out of the way I’m not going to talk too much about the plot again. Why, you ask? Simply because it’s one that I think you need to experience yourself, as fresh as possible. What Hive Monkey does is keep things going after the end of Ack-Ack Macaque, adding much that can be appreciated, but also doing so in a fun and informal manner.
The characters are much the same as in the first novel, so having them back is a welcome sight. However, events from the first novel have had an effect and Powell develops them nicely along the way. Ack-Ack is a particularly interesting character once again. Yes, he’s a violent, foul mouthed, and gun-toting monkey, but he’s got some deeper issues that start to come through as events in the novel unfold. The same can be said for all our main protagonists, with Victoria, K8, and Paul showing very real and emotional developments. Cole meanwhile, the new addition to the main cast, has all sorts of issues that the appearance of his doppelganger only exacerbates, as does the discovery of multiple universes.
While I won’t talk about the plot, I can say that things move along quickly, much like its predecessor. It throws some surprises in along the way, but nothing that doesn’t fit the setting and structure that Powell has created. In short, it’s damned readable, and thoroughly enjoyable.
Gareth L Powell has managed once again to deliver a novel that blows expectations out of the water. Hive Monkey is not only an enjoyable novel, it’s one that introduces new elements and opens up the setting for some very interesting future stories. Highly recommended.
on 13 February 2016
Following on from the events of Ack-Ack Macaque, Hive Monkey is set about a year later.
Just like the first book, Hive Monkey is a fast paced adventure ride. This time around the Monkey has to deal with The Gestalt. a pseudo-Borg like collective from an alternative timeline.
The airships are bigger, the explosions louder and the cigar smoke is ... smokier?
Hold on to your flying hats for Hive Monkey!
I strongly recommend reading Ack-Ack Macaque before Hive Monkey. Whilst you CAN read Hive Monkey on its own (There is some exposition about the world in which it is set) - Ack-Ack Macaque lays a lot more world building on you, making Hive Monkey much more enjoyable!
on 8 December 2014
A good idea, but taken about as far as it will go, even here about two thirds through it got a bit repetitive on the descriptions and musings it just seemed to stagnate a bit before the big ending. I enjoyed it, but I think the idea has run as far as it will go.