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Monkey Wars    by Richard Kurti order for
Monkey Wars
by Richard Kurti
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Richard Kurti's Monkey Wars is entirely unique and wholly not at the same time. If you have read George Orwell's Animal Farm, the themes in Monkey Wars will seem incredibly familiar, but Kurti's use of monkeys gives it a fresh and modern spin.

The Rhesus Macaques were living quite contentedly in an old cemetery in the city of Kalkuta until the Grey Langur seized their home. The Langur are known for their warlike demeanor, so the Rhesus do what they have to and make a life for themselves in a new home, one the Langur refer to as the Rhesus Ghetto. Not all of the Rhesus are happy with their new situation, especially Papina whose father died while trying to retrieve her toy from the cemetery. Not all of the Langur are happy, either, namely Mico, a young monkey who would rather think than act.

One of the top brass of the Langur notices Mico's intelligence and soon promotes him through the ranks. No matter how high he rises, though, Mico is against many Langur practices, and warns Papina and the rest of the Rhesus when attacks are planned. Eventually, corruption finds its way into the Langur ranks and Mico and Papina must do whatever they can to save the Rhesus and Langur alike.

Kurti delves deeply into monkey politics, which are surprisingly similar to human politics. Some of this is indeed fiction and that makes Monkey Wars a fascinating read, but all of Kurti's characterizations were based on in depth studies of Old World monkeys, bringing a plausibility to this fantasy. As he does try to humanize animals, yet keep them true to their species, there is quite a bit of exposition woven into the first part of the story, but things really take off in Part II, making for a page-turning read.

Although it is quite similar to Animal Farm, fans of the classic will appreciate Richard Kurti's new take on discussing politics through animals. Readers unfamiliar with Animal Farm will still enjoy Monkey Wars, which opens up this small fantasy sub-genre to an entirely new generation.

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