I’m very excited to feature in this Book Blitz with Storytellers on Tour! Monkey Around by Jadie Jang is the most fun book I’ve read this year!
San Francisco has a Monkey King – and she’s kinda freaked out.
Barista, activist, and were-monkey Maya McQueen was well on her way to figuring herself out. Well, part of the way. 25% of the way. If you squint.
But now the Bay Area is being shaken up. Occupy Wall Street has come home to roost; and on the supernatural side there’s disappearances, shapeshifter murders, and the city’s spirit trying to find its guardian.
Maya doesn’t have a lot of time before chaos turns up at her door, and she needs to solve all of her problems. Well, most of them. The urgent ones, anyhow.
And here is my review!
Monkey Around by Jadie Jang
Published: August 3, 2021
Genre: Urban Fantasy
First of all, forgive me for Fan girl-ing all over this book but Jadie Jang has done EVERYTHING I wanted done in this book. It is based in my home, The San Fransisco Bay Area, and the whole book is just as magical as the Bay. The feelings I have about the Bay as an African American, female Millennial are fully on display with the characters represented in this book. Jang doesn’t hold back, setting this book during the Occupy movement which highly affected the Bay Area and the people there.
The book hosts a myriad of cultures from Asian to Latin and Afro-Caribbean. Not to mention the supernatural clans and cultures! This is also VERY true to the Bay Area. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a cultural center, diverse food choices or art representing the virtues and energy of the people. This fact made the story very authentic for me and if felt really good to see cultures mingling and solving problems together, because sometimes, when you have supernatural problems, you have to cross boundaries.
The world in the book is so authentically San Francisco / Berkeley / Oakland that I felt immediately connected, but despite me living in the Bay Area for over twenty-five years, there were many places in the book I’d never been to and Jang made them easy to see with crisp and perfectly balanced descriptions. Additionally, I saw the characters this way as well. Jang didn’t stray from identifying ethnicities and showing the beauty in all the people she represented. This was done with the utmost respect, elegance and Jang made it seem easy to craft these characters.
As for the plot, holy freaking moly. I was hooked from the beginning. The supernatural elements are EVERYTHING. I loved the animal powers so much. Took me back to my Animorph days but way more sophisticated. I mean, WAY more. The depth of each character and their animal counterpart is astounding. Jang gives us the history and mythology of all the animals but she doesn’t drone on. It’s just enough to touch the part of me that wants the facts, but in the end the book is truly made to entertain.
My favorite character was Maya. It is rare for me to like the main character in a story because I love supporting characters a ton, but Maya is so well fleshed out and one thing Jang does really well is use the other characters to develop the other characters. Maya’s friends know her and they aren’t afraid to tell her about herself. She has introspective moments as well that give us insight. This book is done in first person but unlike many books I’ve read in that perspective, there is NO repetition. Jang keeps the story moving forward at all times. There are no wasted, extra or out of place words.
Overall, I HIGHLY recommend this book. Jang has done a phenomenal job representing the area and the culture. She has seamlessly weaved in the history and mythology of each character, the action sequences are cinematic and all the feels are there! What an amazing read!
We’re hosting an event-wide giveaway, and invite you to take part! Below you’ll find the prize info, a Rafflecopter widget embed code, and a direct link.
One physical copy of Monkey Around by Jadie Jang – International
Starts: August 18th, 2021 at 12:00am EST
Ends: August 23rd, 2021 at 11:59pm EST
bookshop.org UK: https://uk.bookshop.org/books/monkey-around/9781781089200
bookshop.org US: https://bookshop.org/books/monkey-around/9781781089200
Audible UK: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Monkey-Around-Audiobook/178618365X
Audible US: https://www.audible.com/pd/Monkey-Around-Audiobook/178618365X
Claire Light (writing as Jadie Jang) is almost as organizy as her characters. She started a magazine (Hyphen) and an arts festival (APAture) with a cast of Asian Pacific Americans even more magical, if less supernatural, than the ones she writes about. She also got an MFA, went to Clarion West, and compromised between the two by publishing a collection of “literary” sci-fi short stories (Slightly Behind and to the Left) that maybe 100 people read. After wrangling arts and social justice non-profits for 17 years, her already autoimmune-disease-addled body threw a seven-year-long tantrum, leading our then-house-bound heroine into an urban fantasy addiction.
A few years, and a dozen Euro-centric-mythology-dominated urban fantasy series later, Claire sat up and said “I can do this!” and Jadie Jang, the part of her brain that writes snarky-fun genre romps, was born. She posts about monkeys every Monday under @seelight on Twitter.
Rebellion Publishing / Solaris