Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ape House by Sara Gruen

Ape HouseApe House by Sara Gruen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up Ape House because I was a fan of Sara Gruen's earlier work. This book taps into our fascination with apes, and the author does a tremendous job of infusing the apes with unique personalities, but some of the human characters in the book are not as well developed. The story begins when John, a reporter, has the opportunity to interview the apes and their handler, scientist Isabel Duncan. John is fascinated by the apes ability to communicate with him through sign language. He makes a genuine connection to the bonobos. Only hours after the interview, a terrorist bombing at the research facility severely injures Isabel and leads to the removal of the apes. John has to deal with challenges at work and at home, and ultimately quits his job and moves to L.A. to be with his wife Amanda, an aspiring novelist who is working on screenwriting for a television pilot. The relationship of John and Amanda is awkward and does not add greatly to the overall plot of the story. Isabel is devastated both from her physical injuries and from the loss of her bonobo 'family' so she begins an exhaustive search for the apes. John and Isabel meet up again when the apes are used in a zealously marketed reality TV stunt called Ape House. There are numerous references in the story to the animal rights protestors, and 'militant vegans' that use stereotypical descriptions and seem to trivialize the work of animal rights activists. While I did enjoy the book, many of the characters were under-developed, and the end of the book felt a bit forced.

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