Jason's Reviews > The Monkey Wrench Gang

The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey
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's review
Jun 10, 2008

liked it
Read in June, 2008

OK I'll try not to say what other reviewers have said. First of all, I loved the drama, the ideas, the characters, but I didn't buy the ending at all so I deducted a star. The other star was deducted because of the at times clunky writing and I think the character's histories merited further discussion.

First what I liked: The plot is riveting, to the point of agonizing. You just want them to call it quits and save themselves! It can get a little bogged down in technical descriptions. Stylistically, it was reminiscent of a lot of old Western stories. In this work, the West is now the last essentially in tact wilderness in the U.S. At one point they even say something like, "The East is lost".

For me, the ideas in this book (environmentalism, anarchism, freedom, gender, sense of place, survival, sin, hypocrisy, etc) make this one of the most exciting, relevant, and rewarding reads I have had in a while.

I did see the sexism in the work, but considering the time frame (1970's), it wasn't all that out of place. Bonnie herself was just as strong and interesting as any of the characters.

However, I deducted one star because I felt the characters needed more of a history. The book basically starts off with Doc burning signs and right there, I felt that a disconnect existed. Why was he doing it? I know doctors that care about the environment. They don't burn down billboards for fun.


Secondly, I deducted a star because the ending really betrayed the ideas in this story. I don't believe Hayduke would have returned, nor would they have saw themselves as "victoriuos", nor would they probably have kept at it.

The characters to me, were essentially tragic ones. Yet when Hayduke returns, like the Lone Ranger, its just cliche and not what was being built up. His whole character was built up to have this death-wish syndrome and it was very realistically done. I just felt that I had been tricked into agonizing over this character, who it turns out, wasn't really in too much trouble.

The other characters were tragic as well. I mean there is just no discussion about how Bonnie's family felt or how their reputations were affected. In American society, getting sentenced by a court of law, as the characters did, is a tragedy.

Lastly, the result of all their actions was the the prosecutor got elected to office and goes on to make development a huge priority! So that's a tragedy for their cause as well. That is environment that you can't just "regrow."

So unreal was the ending, that I actually read it almost as if it was a dream, almost expecting Doc to be hallucinating.

(UPDATE: I just took a look at the reviews for the sequel to this book, titled "Hayduke Lives!" and was not surprised to find they consistently mention how the book fails to live up to the first, in that they didn't like the further development of Hayduke.)
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03/17/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Jason (last edited Jun 23, 2009 10:11AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jason First of all, we obviously disagree on what's realistic and what isn't. Just saying that "its a freakin story and its realistic" isn't going to change anyone's mind either.

Secondly, don't assume that you know me or what my life is like. You have no idea what someone's life is like based on a goodreads review and if you think you do then, I really don't have much to say to you.

message 2: by Oli (new)

Oli Totally agree with your review.

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