Group think, lust for power, oppression of minority groups and flimsy justifications for war are all themes explored in Richard Kurti's Monkey Wars. If you think that those themes sound like they have been plucked from news headlines over the past decade then you are correct. The only difference is that these things occur in a monkey society in present day India.
Teens and younger readers may not be fully aware of the full scope of those historical events and this novel may be a means to introduce those concepts. Without giving away too much the many species of monkey in the novel are perfectly capable of coexisting in peace but it is just a few monkeys who are intent on stirring up trouble for their own selfish ends.
The Orwellian nature of the story was something that I noticed as the plot unfolded. Power grabs, hidden plots and ulterior motives abound as well as the changing nature of some individuals once they achieve the power the sought. Unlike in Animal Farm however, gruesome endings are the nature of the day for the villains in the story.
Mico, the story's protagonist makes an unlikely ally in Papina a monkey from another species. Their relationship blossoms from there through the many twists and turns that life takes. It is amazing that Kurti has managed to cram in so many different themes but it is a testament to his skill as a writer.
In the novel's afterword Kurti relaus some personal information that informed his vision for the book and he implores readers to make a stand whenever they think things aren't right, even if they are the only ones voicing their opinion. That, I think is the best message we can take away from the book. I recommend this book for readers aged 13+.