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 relationshipsbut 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 getsespecially 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 biggestand unlikeliestphenomenon 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.
"Starred Review. Gruens astute, wildly entertaining tale of interspecies connection is a novel of verve and conscience." - Booklist
"Although the book is somewhat flawed by an abundance of stock characters, Gruen's achievement is nevertheless significant not only in illuminating the darkest corners of animal research but also in showing the depth of human-animal relationships." - Library Journal
"In Elephants, Gruen used the human-animal connection to conjure bigger themes; this is essentially an overblown story about people and animals, with explosions added for effect." - Publishers Weekly
"The factual information Gruen presents about bonobos and their language acquisition is compelling; unfortunately, the humans, who get far more page space, are a drag." - Kirkus
"Sara Gruen knows thingsshe knows them in her mind and in her heart. And, out of what she knows, she has created a true thriller that is addictive from its opening sentence. Devour it to find out what happens next, but also to learn remarkable and moving things about life on this planet. Very, very few novels can change the way you look at the world around you. This one does." - Robert Goolrick, author of A Reliable Wife
"I read Ape House in one joyous breath. Ever an advocate for animals, Gruen brings them to life with the passion of a novelist and the accuracy of a scientist. She has already done more for bonobos than I could do in a lifetime. The novel is immaculately researched and lovingly crafted. If people fall in love with our forgotten, fascinating, endangered relative, it will be because of Ape House." - Vanessa Woods, author of Bonobo Handshake
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Rated of 5
avid a disappointment Trite, implausible, and hugely disappointing. I loved Water for Elephants, which was rich and imaginative, moving and wise. Ape House contains only a thread of value in its attention to the animals and their use of American Sign Language to communicate with each other and with humans. Beyond that, the characters lack consistency and warmth, and the plot fails in its overused themes and endless coincidences. Please. I suspect that Ape House was published solely on the strength of Elephants, as it seems unlikely that such drivel would otherwise have been printed.
Sara Gruen's first novel, Riding Lessons, was published in 2004. She is an animal lover who lives with her husband, three children, five cats, two goats, a dog, and a horse in an environmental community north of Chicago. Many of the characters and incidents in the novel are based on real people and true stories gleaned from her extensive research into the world of traveling circuses of the 1930s.
Sara is a Canadian-born dual citizen (Canadian and American) who moved to the States in 1999 for a technical writing job. When she was laid off two years later, instead of looking for another job, she decided to take a gamble on writing fiction full-time. Fortunately, the gamble paid off.
Until 2007 she, her husband, three children, two dogs, two cats, three...
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