About the book
Monkey Wars is a young adult book by Richard Kurti. The book was published by Walker Books on 2nd May and it is 400 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC for review.
Rhesus monkeys have lived within the walls of the cemetery in Calcutta for a long time. They enjoy the shade of the trees and the warm water of the pools. Suddenly, out of nowhere though, the Langur monkey troop bombard the cemetery and attack. After a brual massacre, the Rhesus monkeys are forced out of their own home, left to wander the dangerous streets to find somewhere new to live.
In his new home, Langur monkey Mico knows something is not right. He questions how his troop came to live in the cemetery and what really happened on the day of the attack. His curiosity is seen as a good thing to one monkey high up in the military but Mico also knows it can cause him a whole lot of trouble. While attempting to figure out the truth and to gain peace, Mico realises that he may not even be on the right side.
What I thought
A book like Monkey Wars is not something I would pick up myself. It was only due to the enthusiasm of a publicist that I decided to give it a go.
Monkey Wars is told through the perspectives of Papina, a Rhesus monkey and Mico, a Langur monkey. The two monkeys cross paths throughout the book as Mico begins to question the morals of his own troops. I really enjoyed the interactions between Papina and Mico. The strange friendship that builds between them helps to show why the monkeys are at war and the reasons behind certain actions. While Papina puts a lot of blame on to the Langur monkeys, Mico attempts to tell her that not all monkeys are the same and he shouldn't be treated like the rest of his troop.
The most interesting aspect of this book for me was the politics of monkey troops. Each kind of monkey is completely different to the next, acting in different ways and wanting different things. The Langur and Rhesus monkeys are as different as you could probably get. While the Rhesus monkeys are quite laid back and generally want a happy life, the Langur monkeys are brutal, aggressive and want to dominate. As soon as the Langur monkeys attack and take over the cemetery, it becomes clear that they want to rule everything and be at the top of the food chain. They want everything to go their own way and will not let others stand in their way.
A lot of time is spent following the Langur monkey troop in this book. Mico starts off as a young monkey with no responsibility but as he grows older, he becomes a part of the army like establishment. He begins to learn what it means to be a Langur monkey and what is expected of him and everyone else, even if he doesn't agree with what he is told. Mico was a wonderful character because although he had his own ideas and thoughts, he was born into a troop that didn't really allow that sort of thing. Mico has to rely on his intelligence and cunning to get what he wanted and to do what he believed was the right thing, which is something he learns from Deputy Tyrell, a monkey who uses the same things to get his own way.
The plot follows the Langur monkeys and their need to dominate everything around them. Monkey Wars is exactly about what the title would suggest but it is also much more. While the war between the Langur and Rhesus monkeys is right at the forefront of this book, Richard Kurti takes the time to give each monkey a personality, which makes them extremely human-like. He also gives a view of how humans view the monkeys and how the different troops have different places in the lives of humans. The mixture of monkey life and human life (although this part isn't used too much) was very interesting and it was great to see views from both sides.
Overall, Monkey Wars is a fantastic read that I was not expecting to like quite as much. The plot is quite complex at times, interesting and extremely exciting.