A bagful of reviews: mayhem and monkeys

ack-ackAck-Ack Macaque by Gareth L Powell

You like airships? Gunfights? AI? Second World War adventures? Hackers? Ninjas? Murder mysteries? Cyborgs? Monkeys?

Well, ok, maybe having a liking for monkeys straight off isn’t entirely necessary. You’ll definitely like Ack-Ack by the end of the book!

I love the genre-hopping in this; it never feels forced, but it incorporates so many different elements that it’s wonderful. The plot’s page-turning, the book’s great fun, and the characters are excellent; Ack-Ack is brilliantly cynical and suitably violent and Victoria’s drive pushes the plot onwards, along with Merovech’s desire for a quiet life (spoiler: he doesn’t get it). I want to read the next ones – it’s not a major cliffhanger but it’s such an interesting world that I’m looking forward to the next ones.

skulduggerySkulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

I was interested in this from Ellen Croshain, who recommended it as her favourite childhood book. I figured I’d get it for my cousin and have a sneaky read before it went to her…

It’s good. Not great, but good…but then I’m an adult and have gotten pretty picky about my reading tastes! For a teenager, I’d think it’d be great – there’s a girl who actually does her own ass-kicking, a walking skeleton with a mysterious past, a house with lots of secrets, a plot to destroy the world…it’s a lot of fun. I’m not sure I’ll get the rest of the series for myself, but it’s certainly a good book to try to tempt my cousin with!

pompeiiPompeii by Robert Harris

I’m a classical historian, so I get picky about my historical fiction (Conn Iggulden, I’m looking at you…). However, I like Robert Harris; I’ve read some of his Second World War books and been recommended the Cicero trilogy, so I was happy enough to pick up Pompeii as a quick read.

It’s a pretty interesting story of the last few days of Pompeii before Vesuvius blew, while also following a murder mystery; the new aquarius is trying to work out what happened to his predecessor while also dodging the hostility of the local landowners, navigating social situations and trying to work out what on earth is killing fish and draining the fountains.

I love the accuracy of the escalation; the local people really did have little idea of what was happening, and Harris has certainly done his research; I find it terrifying that people came back after that first initial blast, thinking it was just another quake, and then got killed by the pyroclastic flow that engulfed and preserved the city. The lives of the characters, although fictional, have enough tiny details to make the book fascinating and the story definitely readable. So it’s a thumbs-up from a history geek, and for anyone that likes an investigation story.