Hive Monkey

Hive Monkey by Gareth L. Powell, Ack-Ack Macaque #2

The stunning follow-up to Ack-Ack Macaque, which featured the Spitfire pilot monkey hero of a computer game who turned out to be real. The first book was met with wide acclaim upon release.In order to hide from his unwanted fame as the spitfire-pliot-monkey who emerged from a computer game to defeat the dangerous corporation who 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 that 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!

Last year I was more than pleasantly introduced to Ack-Ack Macaque, I had first assumed it to be a standalone, but soon found out that there would be a sequel! I have to admit I did a little dance of joy, only than later to find out that it would be turned into a trilogy! yay! Now I am keeping my fingers crossed to see if Gareth L. Powell can diss out some more stories featuring my now favorite fictional monkey. Ack-Ack Macaque introduced us to Ack-Ack Macaque, a cigar chomping, daikiri drinking spitfire piliot monkey who inhabited a popular computer game. Soon it proved that Ack-Ack Macaque wasn't only just a virtual character. Ack-Ack was rescued by the heir to the throne of both France and Great Britain, Merovech. And with the freeing of Ack-Ack, it was time for some revenge! With Ack-Ack Macaque, Gareth L. Powell managed to show an amazing feat of brilliance, Hive Monkey has something to live up to.

Hive Monkey picks up after Ack-Ack Macaque and finds Ack-Ack living on the airship the
Tershkova who is piloted by Victoria (whom we got to know in the first book). What might have seemed to be an easy and enjoyable life four our monkey in question soon turns out to be another mad adventure one that spans multiple dimensions, literally! A writer fears for his life and tries to seek some sort of refuge on board the Tershkova, this is really the starting point to a whole lot of action and kicks off an interesting turn of the Ack-Ack Macaque series. If you look closely at the first book Ack-Ack Macaque, the story introduced us to Ack-Ack and the world itself if you compare that to the story to that of Hive Monkey, Hive Monkey is essentially a whole new direction and can in my opinion be read without having read the first book, along the way there are enough point wherein Gareth L. Powell tells about the events in the first book that led up to how it all in in Hive Monkey. However I do have to say that, make sure you do read the first book, it's a treat by itself! OK that aside. Garth L. Powell really managed to transform his series into a whole new direction, he keeps the storyline fresh, exciting and more than engaging, just as with the first book, Ack-Ack Macaque, I was seeing myself skipping other chores just to finish Hive Monkey. When I first saw the cover of Hive Monkey I directly had to think of Resident Evil and the Umbrella Cooperation. But take a real close look to the cover of both books! (maybe minor spoiler). 

So how does Gareth L. Powell actually transforms his story? Well, for starters with the Gestalt, this brilliantly broadened the whole premise of the Ack-Ack Macaque series. In the beginning of the story there are mentionings of doppelgangers and several other weird stuff happening. Soon you find out that there is much more nefarious organization behind everything, dressed in tailored white suits. I really liked how Gareth L. Powell introduced us again to a whole new concept in Hive Monkey. Ack-Ack Macaque was there to build a solid foundation introducing us to the world and with Hive Monkey Gareth L. Powell ups his game even more, building on that foundation and taking his story those extra steps further. The Gestalt was shown just spot on, in the beginning you have glimpses of their agents and later things start to dawn on you and when their leader reveals himself to Ack-Ack and Victoria, the fight is on. But it isn't only aimed at Ack-Ack, though the leader does want him to join their cause, the faith of the world hangs in the balance! It's up to our favorite monkey and his friends to again save the day and.. world that is! I cant say it enough but I am more than pleased with the direction that Gareth L. Powell takes his Ack-Ack Macaque series. I so want to tell much more about the Gestalt but that would just spoil your own experience too much.

Similarly to its predecessor, Hive Monkey has a lot cool stuff happening and it is mainly owed to the star himself, Ack-Ack. In the first book you could really see that he was struggling with himself, as far as he knew he was just living day by day flying his spitfire and seeing his comrades perish in battle. With his release into the real world his perspectives changed. A lot. When you read about Ack-Ack in Hive Monkey, he seems on one level much more calmer than the first book, and it seems that he come to terms with living in the real world, however you can still clearly see that he is trying to avoid confrontation by living secluded with his friends on the Tershkova. But don't think that Ack-Ack has turned soft, No! he still has his words ready and is still fast to gab his colts to blow holes in just about almost everything. It just seem that he developing some emotions, this is great stuff and something I was hoping to see, he is the star of the show and Gareth L. Powell keeps on developing him in the right way. Other characters that make an appearance besides Ack-Ack are Victoria who now controls the airship the Tershkova and the hacker K8 who helped to free Ack-Ack from the Celeste Company. Their relations between them and Ack-Ack also kept developing and while for me the relation between Ack-Ack and Victoria was more like a business deal, it seems that between K8 and Ack-Ack there is much more going on. And looking at the ending of the second book, it seems that Ack-Ack again is growing up.

With Hive Monkey Gareth L. Powell shows that his highly imaginative and colorful Ack-Ack Macaque wasn't a one time thing. Hive Monkey is a brilliant sequel. In the case of what I had expected and wanted to expect I hadn't dared dreamed of the direction that Gareth L. Powell went. Of course I has some stray thoughts looking at the cover but well... those didn't come near. At. All. With introducing the Gestalt in his story, he really has turned the tables on his story and allows for a great introduction in the third book Macaque Attack. This series is an science fiction story but adding inter and intra dimension travel is still tricky and when I read it I always hope for the best and Gareth L. Powell shows just that. I have to stand but what I have said about the first book. Its brilliantly imaginative and I am very happy that Gareth L. Powell shares his wildly imaginative fantasy with us. With a monkey who more than often is ripe for a session on anger management in the lead, having duel colts at it's hips, a cigar in his mouth and flying spitfires, set in a alternate steampunk/sci-fiesque backdrop battleing it off against the nefarious multiple dimension travelling Gestalt (set out to conquer everything they come across), who employ the best fighters of every conquered dimension (think Neaderthals, they aren't exctinct in other dimensions!), What more do you want! Gareth L. Powell has again raised the bar high for himself but I have full confidence that he will conclude this duology turned trilogy (yes you rad that correctly!!) into one explosive finale. Make sure you don't miss these amazing books.


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