Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ape House - Sara Gruen

I enjoyed Gruen's previous book Water for Elephants. I wouldn't say I loved it as much as book clubs across the country seem to have, but I did enjoy her writing style, the ease of her characters and plot, and generally found it to be the kind of book I enjoy relaxing with in a cafe with a nice hot latte. When I read the jacket cover for Ape House the subject matter did not appeal to me at all. It's about a researcher studying the behavior of bonobo apes - and their facility with sign language and ability to communicate with humans and others. It wasn't something I thought I would be particularly interested in. But, I decided to pick it up anyway. I was hooked after the first chapter. The plot goes a little haywire as the research facility is bombed and the apes escape and are then captured and televised in their own reality show. But, it was the relationship between the main researcher and the bonobos that I found truly endearing. Their conversations (apparently based on real conversations) were so touching, not to mention fascinating. It made me want to read more non-fiction on this subject- and I was just recommended a book by Ashley's mom called Bonobo Handshake which I have requested from the library. This was a fast good coffee-shop read, though some of the characters were annoying and their relationships with each other seemed superficial (strangely, perhaps more so in comparison with the relationships they had with the apes). This was one I liked more for the big picture story than for the details of the actual narrative.

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