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Bad Monkeys

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  7,499 Ratings  ·  1,080 Reviews
Jane Charlotte has been arrested for murder.

She says she's a member of a secret organization devoted to fighting evil. She says she's working with the Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons—aka "Bad Monkeys."

Her confession lands her in the jail's psychiatric wing and earns her countless hours of poking, probing, and questioning by a professional. But
Paperback, 230 pages
Published August 12th 2008 by Harper Perennial (first published 2007)
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Lysa Yes :) I haven't finished it yet, however the writing style is great.

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Sep 08, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, american-lit
One of those books that starts out great and then totally falls apart. It opens with Jane Charlotte having been arrested for murder in Las Vegas; when she told the police she’s part of a secret government organization (code name: Bad Monkeys) she ended up in the psych ward. The book is comprised of her interviews with the doctor there alternating with her first person account of her story. For about two-thirds of the book, this is fascinating: Ruff—whose Set This House in Order, about Dissociat ...more
Dec 15, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's sort of like a runner who starts the race strong, first out of the gate, all eyes are on him. Then he kind of stubs his toe, takes a break, and vigorously walks into the stands looking for an ice cream vendor*.

Sort of.

Trying very hard not to ruin the book, the first half I found extremely compelling. Great premise, well-written, exciting action, good dialog. Read the whole thing in two days. But the more I think about it, the less I like it, because the second half is ever-increasingly fan
Richard Derus
Review now at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

With the Amazon takeover causing uncertainty in future treatment of reviews, I'm moving them all to new online homes.
May 15, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, crime
As many of the Good Readers pointed out, this novel begins very strong and it ends very weak. This sounds not too bad but it is: What makes me angry (and I would like Ruff to give me my money/time back) is that it begins strong because it ends weak. Let me explain: It is not very difficult to make a really good beginning. You only have to make the reader think "How will this end?". And the reader will be rewarded if all the loose ends will be cleared in the end. But if they don't the reader will ...more
Oct 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm just going to get my complaint about this book off my chest before I start talking about the contents of Bad Monkeys. I absolutely hated the physical format of this book. By the ISBN number, it comes up in GoodReads as being a hardback. Now, that's probably what the publisher called it and the cover is harder than a paperback, but it's not quite as hard as a hard back. That wouldn't be bad if it weren't for the fact that the book is considerably narrower than a typical hardback or trade pape ...more
Sebastien Castell
Another brilliantly inventive book by Matt Ruff, Bad Monkeys follows the story of Jane Charlotte, a daring and deceptive agent of a secret society's assassination group (the eponymous "Bad Monkeys" department.)

It's hard to peg the book's genre with any sense of confidence. At the outset it presents a kind of murder mystery that soon delves into psychological suspense. These give way to a sort of present-day secret society sci-fi in which it's clearly our world but forces are at work beneath the
Dec 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wozers! What did I just read?

Finished it pretty much in one night. It pulled me in immediately, barreled through to the end, & left me wondering what the heck I just read.

A New York Times book review called it "science-fiction mystery thriller (a trifecta of genres!)".

Don't read lots of reviews or summaries, just jump in blind & enjoy the ride. Seriously.
Nov 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Monkey Shines
A review by Gerry Donaghy

Jane Charlotte works for The Department of Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons, a division of a nameless organization dedicated to fighting evil. The nickname for her division is Bad Monkeys, and at the beginning of Matt Ruff's novel of the same name, Jane is being questioned by a police psychiatrist regarding her involvement in a recent murder. When asked if she punishes evil people, Jane responds glibly, "No. Usually we just kill them." But the victi
Bob Redmond
Feb 03, 2009 rated it liked it
In this story, the protagonist--a thirty-something Femme Nikita--faces an interrogation that exposes her sordid, adventurous, secret-agent past, and eventually illuminates her moral state as good or evil (I won't divulge which). Told in episodic backstory, the novel covers the twin tropes of brotherhood: from the macro (Big Brother is Watching) to the micro ("am I my brother's keeper?"). It also has plenty of serial killing, drugs, geeky technology and plastic explosives.

The book is an ungainly
Aug 27, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bad Monkeys was an absolute page turner for me (in every possible positive sense of the phrase). It was like Matt Ruff was channeling Neal Stephenson. Through a primarily first person narrative, with a sprinkling of third person interludes, Bad Monkeys questions the deeper nature of good and evil, and what exactly separates the two, without ever dropping it's fast pace or Matt Ruff's characteristically fun nature.
Oct 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I've attempted to not give away any pertinant inforation about the story, however if you don't want to know anything at all...don't read this review.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this book when I began reading it and I found my self scrutinizing the book in the beginning. I couldn’t decide if I liked, loved or would place it on the ‘don’t know what to think’ shelf. It was different; written almost entirely from a dialogue point of view, seen almost entirely from one characters point of
Jan 17, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Oriana by: staff pick at
Shelves: read-2014
Here's the second book I frantically, last-minute-ly bought as I was heading off for a nine-day tropical idyll with my fam. I've really enjoyed a couple of Ruff's other books, so this seemed like a slam dunk.


I mean, it was definitely good. It started out pretty riveting, in fact! There's secret assassin organizations, a gun that shoots heart attacks, serial child-killers, sociopathic drug dealers, and scary clowns, just for starters. It's kind of a cartoonish semi-futuristic shoot-'em-up, I
David Katzman
Jun 06, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
Abandoned. I got halfway through. Found the main character to be artificial and phony. Found the plot points around the secret organization to be awkward and incoherent. Disliked the story to that point being told in flashback, which stunts drama and momentum. And I disliked the premise of a secret organization that knows "for sure" who various serial killers or pedophiles are (although the police doesn't) so they execute them. It's not far off from the old canard about it being okay to torture ...more
Jeannette Nikolova
Also available on the WondrousBooks blog.

Before starting the book, I skimmed through the Goodreads reviews. Also, my flatmate, who let me borrow the book, she shared the opinion of everyone on Goodreads.

So, I need only but confirm this: This book starts amazing and then falls flat on its sad, miserable face.

The story of Bad Monkeys might not have the most original concept ever, but the thing is, I really liked the basic idea. I wish that it had continued working on that, instead of developing
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, suspense
I have no, absolutely no idea how to classify this book. It's like a weird dream twisting back and forth, changing the colours of the settings and the players constantly, a huge mindfuck really, guiding you around until you have no idea what's up and down or left and right.

And it really shouldn't be. It's the typical fight good against evil, black against white. It should be clear and easy. But it really is not.

Jane Charlotte has killed a man, but after hearing her story, the police detectives
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction, sci-fi
Bad Monkeys was really good but I am stuck on how to classify it other than to say it was really good! I have no idea how much of the story was real and how much was the delusional ramblings of the main character.

Jane Charlotte is in a mental hospital and is being interviewed by a doctor. Bad Monkeys is her story. It is a strange tale of a secret organization that fights evil. Jane is recruited to join the Bad Monkeys division of this organization but she has a penchant for drugs and a bad habit
Angus McKeogh
Dec 17, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to express how bad this book was. Premise sounds interesting on the back. Book is straight up terrible.
Jun 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of absurdist mind-bending: Men in Black; Philip K. Dick; Fight Club
Recommended to Richard by:
This book started as a wild, five-star adventure. The closest comparison is to the movie Men in Black, but in this book the hidden organization is dedicated to rooting out evil, not to protecting aliens blah blah blah. Several parallels to the movie: the organization is completely hidden; they have some crazy technology; due to their unconventional mission they are very tolerant of unconventional personalities and tactics. And, most importantly, Ruff has the same absurdist sense of humor evidenc ...more
Sep 11, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Jane Charlotte is being held in a prison psych ward and is giving her life story to a doctor. She explains that she works for a secret organization (Bad Monkeys) that works to track and find evil people and get rid of them. The entire book is the exchange between her and the doctor.

Right off the reader is presented with the dilemma:

Is Jane telling the truth?
Is Jane completely gone mentally and living in a self-created fantasy world?
Is Jane lying on purpose for a alternative motive?

The first 2/3
Elizabeth Bingham
I've read a good deal of reviews, and not everyone likes this book. Some people think it fell apart after the beginning, and I'm going to have disagree. I think that when you read this book, you have to be ready to go for a ride - and if you get on the train and are willing to take you where it's going to take you, you won't be disappointed.

I will say this though, I felt that as the book neared its conclusion, the story was not as well developed as it was at the beginning. You sort of get the im
I really liked the plot of this book - an undercover organization getting rid of evil people and all their high-tec, cool gear to go with it.

The book started off really weird and then got even stranger. It did seem that the last 20-30 pages were a little forced, or maybe, the author wasn't sure how he wanted to end the story. It threw me off until I realized what exactly was going on (which it does get explained).

Despite this strangeness, it was overall a good book. Very different than I've rea
This is one of the craziest books I've ever read. Mainly because the narrator is so damn unreliable, but also the plot twists at every step. I must say that the ending wasn't to my taste, but it was really interesting otherwise. If you like spy stories, conspiracy theories and mad stories, this one is for you.

I must thank the street library in front of the uni for this novel. I was hesitant to take it, but hey, it was something unusual.
Sep 17, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Jane Charlotte is being held in a psychiatric unit and is being questioned about a murder she committed. She tells the doctor the story of her life - kicked out of her house by her mother as a teenager, growing into a life of drugs and poor decisions. In her teens, she has a chance encounter with a serial killer at her school and is saved thanks to the intervention of a secret organization dedicating to fighting evil. From that point on, Jane knows she will one day work for that group.

Although i
Bad Monkeys is a paranoid, reality disintegrating thriller with elements of the Matrix, Usual Suspects, The Prisoner, Morrison’s The Filth, Stross’s Laundry series(orientation delivered in a dream.), and a lot of Philip K Dick. This is a bit of a tribute to PKD with many elements taken from his work and biography (figure out who Jane Charlotte is in the context of his life and there is a clue), so expect bizarre battling organization organizations, ubiquitous surveillance, reality transforming d ...more
Noran Miss Pumkin
Apr 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults that read psycho books
Recommended to Noran by: used bookstore window
Shelves: bizzare
The more i read it, the more strange it went, and the more perverse the last few chapter became. If i knew about that, i would have left these BAD monkey alone. It went too over board with the weird to be believable . That is the point of the book--is it the truth or in the head of a jailed psych patient?! I so loved the premise on the back of the book, and the shape is different. The book feels good to hold while reading it. Another major disappointment of the summer. Oh, what is that in the co ...more
Sep 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like Christopher Moore, Tom Robbins, and Matt Ruff
Matt Ruff is one of my favorites. Fool on the Hill was Sci-Fi/fantasy with a college twist. Gas, Sewer, Electric for me fell a little short, seemed a little contrived, but was a good read. Set this House in Order was brilliant, adult, and a tad sad.

Bad Monkeys has elements of all three. It is a little more wry and witty ala Christopher Moore and Tom Robbins, but it also deals with some serious issues (mental health & child abuse). It's a fascinating read on many levels.

I thought the ending w
Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Great book. For one thing it had a twist that took me somewhat by surprise and (if I do say so myself) that isn't usual anymore. Nice new twist on the hero (or even superhero) story line. Well written, well told, I really liked it.
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It started out well with a great premise: an organization exists to remove the "bad monkeys" (evildoers) from society. Well sign me up, right? But the story becomes fractured, and in the end, weary. My writer friends will hate me for saying--and I'm a writer myself--but this is a prime example of why I don't believe in subsidized art. This book was written on an NEA grant, and it shows. The market would never come close to this story.
Not that Matt can't write, and I would give another work of hi
Apr 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books
Beginnt sehr stark, wird dann vollkommen abstrus und gipfelt in einem Ende, das nicht dämlicher hätte sein können. Schade.
The bright yellow cover and different style presentation of the physical book were what brought it to my attention on the shelf at Goodwill. The title made me smile. Bad Monkeys, indeed.

Fast-paced, intertwined back-story and present day, and a strong sense of the absurd kept it interesting. The central character, Jane Charlotte, has been arrested for murder. She tells the interviewing officer she works for an secret organization that fights evil, in the Department of Final Disposition of Irrede
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USA Geography Cha...: Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff 1 5 Dec 29, 2014 06:23AM  
Irony 2 22 Feb 26, 2014 07:21PM  
Theme 1 7 Feb 26, 2014 06:20PM  
Characterization 1 9 Feb 26, 2014 05:58PM  
External Conflict 1 7 Feb 26, 2014 05:55PM  
Internal Conflict 1 5 Feb 26, 2014 05:47PM  
Settings 1 3 Feb 26, 2014 05:43PM  
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I was born in New York City in 1965. I decided I wanted to be a fiction writer when I was five years old and spent my childhood and adolescence learning how to tell stories. At Cornell University I wrote what would become my first published novel, Fool on the Hill, as my senior thesis in Honors English. My professor Alison Lurie helped me find an agent, and within six months of my college graduati ...more
More about Matt Ruff...
“Loosely translated Der schlechte Affe hasst seinen eigenen Geruch means that people are most deeply offended by moral failings that mirror their own.” 9 likes
“Omnes mundum facimus.” 4 likes
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