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Ape House: A Novel

A book by Sara Gruen

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It's not Water for Elephants, but it's a good story.

  • Nov 3, 2010
Rating:
+3
When you have a book as widely read and beloved as Water for Elephants, there is the expectation that the next book is going to bring the same magic to the reader. While I enjoyed Ape House and had little problem staying interested in it, it definitely did not bring the Water for Elephants magic for me (personal opinion!).

Like Water for Elephants, Ape House is a story largely about animals--this time Great Apes (specifically bonobos); and also like the previous book, abuse of the animals plays a role--though this time in regard to scientists rather than circuses. Ape House is sometimes hard to read (emotionally, not linguistically) like Water for Elephants.

The main character in the story, Isabel, works with bonobos in a language lab where the apes and humans communicate via sign language. Isabel loves the apes and vice versa. I see this as the main theme--the love, respect and caring that Isabel and her staff have for the apes and the apes have for them--because I see it as a thread that continues through the book even when bad things are happening.

There is a second storyline that is woven in with Isabel and the apes' story that I thought was tired and boring. I liked John and his attempts to tell the apes' story, but the whole John & Amanda thin wore thin very very quickly for me; I was always happy to see I was back to a story about Isabel and the apes.

Ape House may not have brought the magic of Water for Elephants for me personally, but it does have its own charm and message. I enjoyed it and thought it was an interesting and well-written story...but I can't deny being a bit disappointed.

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November 04, 2010
Thank you, ladies. Water for Elephants was loved by many people...but hated by others, and I never could figure out why. I was in the love camp with that book. Sadly, not so much with this one. Ape House was not so disappointing as Beatrice & Virgil, another followup to another novel I loved, but it was still disappointing on some levels.
 
November 03, 2010
Great review on the next novel by Gruen. I won't be reading this one anytime soon because I still have the first one to read. :-P
 
1
More Ape House: A Novel reviews
review by . February 02, 2011
Scientist Isabel Duncan is employed at the Great Ape Language Lab, a university research facility where the communication skills between bonobo apes and humans are studied.      Isabel developed her love for the bonobo apes when she was a student. Now she shows reporter, John Thigpen, how the apes respond to the ASL (American Sign Language). John is appreciative and immediately becomes fond of the apes.      The university didn't want the protesters or …
review by . November 03, 2010
When you have a book as widely read and beloved as Water for Elephants, there is the expectation that the next book is going to bring the same magic to the reader. While I enjoyed Ape House and had little problem staying interested in it, it definitely did not bring the Water for Elephants magic for me (personal opinion!).    Like Water for Elephants, Ape House is a story largely about animals--this time Great Apes (specifically bonobos); and also like the previous book, abuse …
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Sheri ()
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I have been a customer reviewer on Amazon.com for well over a decade and an Amazon Vine reviewer since the program began. I enjoy writing product reviews that will help customers make a buying decision. … more
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Sara Gruen on Ape House

Right before I went on tour for Water for Elephants, my mother sent me an email about a place in Des Moines, Iowa, that was studying language acquisition and cognition in great apes. I had been fascinated by human-ape discourse ever since I first heard about Koko the gorilla (which was longer ago than I care to admit) so I spent close to a day poking around the Great Ape Trust’s Web site. I was doubly fascinated--not only with the work they’re doing, but also by the fact that there was an entire species of great ape I had never heard of. Although I had no idea what I was getting into, I was hooked.

During the course of my research for Ape House, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Great Ape Trust--not that that didn’t take some doing. I was assigned masses of homework, including a trip to York University in Toronto for a crash course on linguistics. Even after I received the coveted invitation to the Trust, that didn’t necessarily mean I was going to get to meet the apes: that part was up to them. Like John, I tried to stack my odds by getting backpacks and filling them with everything I thought an ape might find fun or tasty--bouncy balls, fleece blankets, M&M’s, xylophones, Mr. Potato Heads, etc.--and then emailed the scientists, asking them to please let the apes know I was bringing “surprises.” At the end of my orientation with the humans, I asked, with some trepidation, whether the apes ...

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Details

ISBN-10: 0385523211
ISBN-13: 978-0385523219
Author: Sara Gruen
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

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