Monday, October 8, 2012
Audiobook Review: Ape House by Sara Gruen
Publishing Date: September 7th, 2010
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pages: 306 pgs
Rating: 3.5 stars
Summary from Goodreads:
Sam, Bonzi, Lola, Mbongo, Jelani, and Makena are no ordinary apes. These bonobos, like others of their species, are capable of reason and carrying on deep relationships—but unlike most bonobos, they also know American Sign Language.
Isabel Duncan, a scientist at the Great Ape Language Lab, doesn’t understand people, but animals she gets—especially the bonobos. Isabel feels more comfortable in their world than she’s ever felt among humans . . . until she meets John Thigpen, a very married reporter who braves the ever-present animal rights protesters outside the lab to see what’s really going on inside.
When an explosion rocks the lab, severely injuring Isabel and “liberating” the apes, John’s human interest piece turns into the story of a lifetime, one he’ll risk his career and his marriage to follow. Then a reality TV show featuring the missing apes debuts under mysterious circumstances, and it immediately becomes the biggest—and unlikeliest—phenomenon in the history of modern media. Millions of fans are glued to their screens watching the apes order greasy take-out, have generous amounts of sex, and sign for Isabel to come get them. Now, to save her family of apes from this parody of human life, Isabel must connect with her own kind, including John, a green-haired vegan, and a retired porn star with her own agenda.
Ape House delivers great entertainment, but it also opens the animal world to us in ways few novels have done, securing Sara Gruen’s place as a master storyteller who allows us to see ourselves as we never have before.
I have read all of Sara Gruen's books and so when this book came out I knew that I wanted to read it right away. Even though I went out and bought this book it still took me quite a bit of time to actually pick it up. In fact, I ended up listening to an audio version of the novel. I have to admit that it took me a little bit of time to get into the audio version of the book. I think it had something to do with the person narrating. From time to time they mispronounced words and every time it had me thinking: have I been saying that word wrong this whole time? It kind of drove me a bit bonkers.
Despite the fact that I couldn't get into the narration, this is a well written novel. I just love Gruen's writing style and I love that her books always have an animal component to it. You can tell by her writing that she adores animals. In this novel, the focus is on bonobo great apes. These apes have been taught to sign and have grown quite fond of their handler Isabel. One day, a group of protesters bomb the ape's home and as a result the apes are sold to someone in the television world. This results in a reality style TV show about the bonobos.
I liked how the book weaved between the perspective of Isabel and the perspective of John, a reporter. The back and forth really helped to give a full picture of what was going on. It was also neat to read from the perspective of both a male and a female. There were plenty of serious parts to this book but Gruen also threw in a few humorous parts as well. I also really liked learning about bonobo apes. It was quite informative and it really made me want to research more.
Overall I only gave this book 3.5 stars out of 5. While it was entertaining, I wasn't as invested in the story as I have been in Sara Gruen's other novels. I am not sure this had anything to do with the writing and more to do with the fact that I have been in a reading slump. If you were a fan of Water for Elephant, then I would suggest reading this book.