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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Go Ape!

Ape House
Sara Gruen
Spiegel and Grau, 2010

When an explosion at the Great Ape Language Lab severely injures scientist Isabel Duncan and her special bonobos are recaptured and then sold, Isabel must form connections of the human kind in order to find them.

Alternating chapters (yes, again!) detail the stories of Isabel as she recovers from her illness and John, a reporter who initially covers the story of these unique apes who understand English and communicate via American Sign Language. Isabel has formed a unique bond with her family of bonobos, and she is naturally distraught when she discovers their location and what their new owner is doing to them. John, on the other hand, has his own difficulties when his news story is taken away from him and he finds himself resigning from a prestigious job and moving to Los Angeles. He and his wife are having their own issues, but he finds himself drawn once again to the great apes when a new assignment sends him once again to report on their situation. Isabel and John are then able to reconnect and work together to save the apes from a fate worse than death.

I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. The plot is unique and compelling and carries the momentum right through to the fascinating ending. Isabel may be a tad obsessive and dramatic, but we can excuse her extremes because of her fierce dedication and determination to help the apes – the only family she has ever known. John is an empathetic and ethical person who tries to do the right thing, but still slips up every once in a while despite his best intentions. I especially loved the relationship he and his wife have; it’s a true love affair that is refreshing to see in a contemporary novel. Put simply: this is a darn good book.


Other novels by this author:
Riding Lessons (2004)
Flying Changes (2005)
Water for Elephants (2006)

Other titles you may enjoy:
Next by Michael Crichton (2006)
Journeys inside the world of bioengineering and genetics, in a provocative novel of near-future science run amok.

The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz (2007)
Amy Redwing is the founder of a California organization that rescues abandoned and endangered golden retrievers. Amy risks her life to save Nickie and takes her into her home. The bond between Amy and Nickie is immediate and uncanny. But the instant joy Nickie brings is shadowed by a series of eerie incidents.

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron (2010)
Searching for his purpose over the course of multiple canine lives, Bailey is reborn as a golden-haired puppy after a tragic death as a stray and shares a loving bond with young Ethan before he again dies and starts over.

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