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Ape House

By Sara Gruen

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Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Published In: Australia, 01 October 2010
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 relationships - but, 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 gets, especially 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 tears apart the lab, severely injuring Isabel and 'liberating' the apes to an unknown destination, 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 biggest-and most unlikely-phenomenon in the history of modern media. Millions of fans are glued to their screens watching the apes order greasy take-away food, play with their toys, 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 is a riveting, funny, compassionate, and, finally, deeply moving new novel in which a family of apes teaches us what it means to be human.'Sara Gruen knows things-she 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

About the Author

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. Sara lives with her husband, three children, two dogs, four cats, two horses and a goat in North Carolina. Sara already has her eye on another horse and a donkey.

Reviews

Gruen enjoys minimal luck in trying to recapture the magic of her enormously successful Water for Elephants in this clumsy outing that begins with the bombing of the Great Ape Language Lab, a university research center dedicated to the study of the communicative behavior of bonobo apes. The blast, which terrorizes the apes and severely injures scientist Isabel Duncan, occurs one day after Philadelphia Inquirer reporter John Thigpen visits the lab and speaks to the bonobos, who answer his questions in sign language. After a series of personal setbacks, Thigpen pursues the story of the apes and the explosions for a Los Angeles tabloid, encountering green-haired vegan protesters and taking in a burned-out meth lab's guard dog. Meanwhile, as Isabel recovers from her injuries, the bonobos are sold and moved to New Mexico, where they become a media sensation as the stars of a reality TV show. Unfortunately, the best characters in this overwrought novel don't have the power of speech, and while Thigpen is mildly amusing, Isabel is mostly inert. 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. (Sept.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

The result of extensive research at the Great Ape Trust research facility in Des Moines, this fourth novel from Gruen (following the phenomenal Water for Elephants) has the dramatic tension of a crime thriller. Isabel Duncan is both scientist and den mother to six bonobos, outgoing, intelligent, and mischievous great apes who use American Sign Language and graphic symbols to communicate. Without warning, an explosion shatters their orderly existence. Were the animal rights protesters, an annoying presence outside the lab, behind this vicious act? Isabel spends weeks in the hospital and then can barely function when she learns that her six much loved bonobos have been stolen. With the help of lab intern Celia and two computer hacker friends, a sympathetic tabloid reporter, and an unforgettable Russian prostitute, Isabel wins out over a porn producer with the hottest reality show idea ever. Twists and turns, lies, and treachery abound in this funny, clever, and perceptive story. VERDICT 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. This will draw both confirmed and new devotees of Gruen's fiction. A perfectly plotted good read. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/10.]-Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

EAN: 9781741753974
ISBN: 174175397X
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.3 centimetres (0.31 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years

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