Macaque Attack by Gareth Powell
Spoiler Alert! Macaque Attack is the third book in the Macaque trilogy so there is a bloomin’ good chance if you haven’t read books one and two, this review may contain the odd spoiler here and there. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!
Ack-Ack’s back – and this time he’s brought an army!
He’s saved the world twice. Now, in the thrilling conclusion to the award-winning Macaque Trilogy, the dangerous but charismatic Ack-Ack Macaque finds himself leading a dimension-hopping troupe of angry monkeys, facing an invading horde of implacable killer androids, and confronting the one challenge for which he was never prepared: impending fatherhood!
Meanwhile, former journalist Victoria Valois finds herself facing old enemies as she fights to save the electronic ghost of her dead husband, and Merovech, King of the United Kingdoms of Great Britain and France, receives a troubling message from the dead sands of Mars…
For the last couple of years January has been a bit of a genre highlight here at The Eloquent Page. Since January 2013, Ack-Ack Macaque has been an annual fixture on my reading list. This year, when the final part of the Macaque trilogy arrived, I’ll admit I felt more than a little excited. I’ve had been waiting, somewhat anxiously, for Macaque Attack to arrive. Its predecessor, Hive Monkey, ended on a twist that at bare minimum could be described as a game changer. Good news everyone, the Macaque is back and this time it’s personal!
Unsurprisingly, the action kicks off from page one and doesn’t really let up. Book three is just exactly what I was hoping for, the big climactic ending that this series deserves. Various versions of the world have already fallen to the android menace, and it’s up to our stalwart group of heroes to try and save the day without blowing up too much stuff whilst doing it.
As ever, the monkey is ably assisted by his motley band of friends and compatriots. Though the books in this series are centred around Ack-Ack Macaque, the other characters are just as important. Victoria Valois and K8 are on hand to help out, both still reeling from the fallout of their previous experiences. Victoria is having trouble coming to terms with the loss of her husband, and K8 is suffering the effects of being part of a collective hive mind. I really like that Powell takes time to explore the outcomes of his character’s choices. It is nice to see that events don’t happen in isolation and there are always consequences to decisions that are made. This really helps flesh out his creations and makes their motivations seem that much more realistic.
Ack-Ack has also been busy recruiting, and he now heads a multi-dimensional primate army (there’s a phrase I never thought I’d type 🙂 ). The different incarnations of Ack-Ack from alternate realities have been liberated, and they are forging their own destiny under his command. Personally I had a soft spot for Cuddles, the gorilla. C’Mon, how can you not adore a gorilla with a mini-gun?
On top of all that, in the midst of all this mayhem, Ack-Ack has also managed to find that special lady monkey and make magic happen. Ok, that may not be one hundred percent accurate. Let’s just say that their Facebook relationship status would be “It’s Complicated”. Nice to see such a cocksure character entirely thrown for six when he realises he’s going to be a baby daddy.
The key thing to remember when reading this book is that the premise of a one-eyed gun-toting monkey flying ace, leading an army of multi-dimensional apes against killer androids is deliciously silly. Once you take the jump and buy into that, then you’ll uncover a lovingly crafted tale chock full of action, adventure and more than a few twists that will melt your brain. There is a blissful moment in Macaque Attack where the plot veers off on a truly unexpected direction. I genuinely can’t say much more than that, for fear or a HUGE reveal, suffice to say the following two things: (1) You’ll definitely know it when you see it (2) Trust in Gareth Powell, all will be well. You may be a little confused, at least initially, but the payoff is utterly worth it. There is nothing better than when an author not only manages to defy your expectations but destroys them in a single chapter.
Damn it all to hell! I’m already missing the monkey. I know, I know, I have to try and keep some sort of perspective. At least I’m slightly cheered by the fact I know he is still out there somewhere. If there is one thing I know. It’s that I can rely on him to keep causing how own unique brand of chaos, keep smoking cigars, and keep demanding a never ending stream of banana daiquiris. I wish him well. Maybe if I’m really, really lucky (tries to keep begging tone out of his voice and fails) he’ll return. I live in hope.
Having already been immortalised in comic book form, it seems only logical that the screen is the next step for Ack-Ack Macaque, Angry monkeys, power hungry cyborgs, really big explosions – it could be epic. Quick! Someone get Matt Reeves on the phone. He did wonders when he re-imagined Planet of the Apes. Hell, give me a couple of million and I’ll get cracking on it myself.
Viewed as a standalone Macaque Attack is a good book, but as part of a trilogy I reckon that it’s damn near perfect. Well played Mr Powell, well played. This is the best send off for the monkey I could ever have hoped for. Great well rounded characters, tons of action, a wonderful plot and just the right amount of simian shenanigans to keep the reader hooked.
Macaque Attack is published by Solaris Books and is available as an ebook now and in paperback from 15th January 2015. Highly recommended, especially if you like foul-mouthed primates with a penchant for violence.