Ape House by Sara Gruen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Ape House was not exactly what I expected. I was expecting was a book about monkeys who are forced to take part in this reality TV show….and it is, to some degree. The book is actually about Isabel Duncan, the scientist who works with the bonobo monkeys, and has essentially made them her family, and John Thigpen, a journalist who was hoping to land an award winning story once he visits and discovers how remarkable the monkeys really are. It’s a story about how in one giant explosion, both if their lives fall apart, and then how they pick up the pieces again. The monkeys are at the heart of the book, but really are sort of a bi-product.
This is not to say I didn’t like the book. The story itself catches you early on. At the first interaction of with the bonobos you can’t help but want to move forward in the story and find out what happens. It started to slow down a bit for me right after the explosion, there seemed to be a lot of hem-hawing or fluff there…or so I thought. It is at this point that I realized the book was a little less about the monkeys and a little more about humans. It is around this time that I begin to have a vast dislike for Amanda, John’s wife. I can understand the depression and the desire to go off and do something, but she seemed to go through extremes and then went on a spending beige that – would never have flown in a normal household. Honestly the things that happen between John and Amanda in this book, I am not sure many marriages would survive. I DID like John a lot, and I really loved how much he loved Amanda, and continued to love her throughout, despite some of the crazy things going on. Near the end, John has a few of his own crazy moments – so I guess they really are perfect for each other.
I loved Isabel, her love and passion for the bonobos was evident, and I loved her drive. She did become a little paranoid of everyone, but with good reason. I mean, she was in a major explosion. I am so thankful she saw through her loser of a fiancé! It was really easy to see he was no good from the onset, it just took her a little bit longer to catch up with the rest of us. I am pretty sure that guy did not have an honorable bone in his body.
As far as the reality show goes…I thought it was as sad as it was made out to be. It really made me feel sorry for the bonobos for being so exploited. Yet, I really wouldn’t have put it past anyone to actually do something like that.
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