Review: Ape House — Sara Gruen

Read: 58
To Go: 42

Book List
51. The Brass Verdict — Michael Connelly
52. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo — Stieg Larsson
53. The Reversal — Michael Connelly
54. When You Were Mine — Elizabeth Noble
55. The Scarecrow — Michael Connelly
56. The Poet — Michael Connelly
57. If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t) — Betty White
58. Ape House — Sara Gruen

I have got to say, it’s so nice to be reading again! It’s been over 10 days since I finished my last book, and I really missed this. But it’s nice to not be busy anymore, and to have more opportunities to read.

In Sara Gruen’s Ape House, reporter John Thigpen visits the Great Ape Language Lab in Kansas for a human-interest feature on the ASL-speaking bonobos that live there, and Isabel Duncan, the scientist who works with them, and understands the apes almost better than humans. Shortly after the visit, the lab is blown up and Isabel and John must team up to protect the bonobos from exploitation.

I don’t usually seek out books in which animals are some of the main characters; it’s just never been that important to me. But Sara Gruen has a talent with humanizing the animals that star in her novels; the bonobos Sam, Bonzi, Lola, Mbongo, Jelani, and Makena were as life-like and real as John, his wife Amanda, and Isabel were. They had favourite colours and foods and personalities all their own, as nuanced as the humans they knew and loved.

Beyond that, I loved the human characters. Watching poor Isabel struggle to reunite with her family of apes, and seeing John mature and come to love the idea of being a father, all while trying to be a good husband and good reporter just made me want to give them big hugs. The characters in Gruen’s novels are so empathetic, so everyday that you can’t not relate to and love them.

Furthermore, I loved the plot. I knew from the beginning that there would be an explosion, which the story revolved around, but I didn’t expect it to happen so early on, and was pleasantly surprised by Gruen’s ability to jump right into the story. She didn’t waste words, or pages, or chapters; every moment had a purpose that helped to tie the story together.

Yes, it was a fantastic novel — and an excellent way to get back into reading again. I definitely suggest that you read it.

Next book: The Paris Wife —Paula McLain

Next feature: you know, the usual. I’ll try to put one up soon and stop being lazy!

– Kelsey

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