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Ape Houseby Sara Gruen
Synopses & Reviews
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 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 biggest — and unlikeliest — phenomenon 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.
"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.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Gruen's astute, wildly entertaining tale of interspecies connection is a novel of verve and conscience." (Starred Review) Booklist
"[Ape House] is fun, in an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink way: headlong and over-the-top....
"Gruen's achievement is...significant not only in illuminating the darkest corners of animal research but also in showing the depth of human-animal relationships.... A perfectly plotted good read." Library Journal
After the extraordinary success of Water for Elephants, with 3 million copies shipped, Sara Gruen returns with another immensely charming, endlessly surprising, and engaging novel in which a family of apes teaches us what it means to be human.
Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants has become one of the most beloved and bestselling novels of our time. Now Gruen has moved from a circus elephant to family of bonobo apes. When the apes are kidnapped from a language laboratory, their mysterious appearance on a reality TV show calls into question our assumptions about these animals who share 99.4% of our DNA.
A devoted animal lover, Gruen has had a life-long fascination with human-ape discourse, and a particular interest in Bonobo apes. She has studied linguistics and a system of lexigrams in order to communicate with apes, and is one of the few visitors who has been allowed access to the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa, where the apes have come to love her. In bringing her experience and research to bear on this novel, she opens the animal world to us as few novelists have done.
Ape House is a riveting, funny, compassionate, and, finally, deeply moving new novel that secures Sara Gruen's place as a master storyteller who allows us to see ourselves as we never have before.
Gruen's Water for Elephants has become one of the most beloved and bestselling novels of our time. Now the author has moved from a circus elephant to a family of bonobo apes kidnapped from a language laboratory and their mysterious appearance on a reality TV show. (Literary Fiction)
About the Author
Sara Gruen is the author of the award-winning, #1 bestselling novel Water for Elephants, as well as the bestseller Riding Lessons and Flying Changes. She lives in Western North Carolina, with her family, four cats, two dogs, two horses, and a goat.
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