Last week my friend Barb loaned me the book Ape House by Sara Gruen. You may remember her as the author of Water for Elephants, an excellent book. I'm not sure this one is as good, many who have read both think not, but I have to say I enjoyed Ape House. It has a similar theme - the mistreatment of animals; Ape House is a novel about primate research. Although the main characters are (or should be?) the six bonobo apes (chimps), we do not get the chance to know them that well. They are central to the story, yes, but the reader does not get "involved" with them to the extent that we did with Rosie the elephant in Water for Elephants. Bonobos are extremely intelligent and these ones have learned sign language; the research being done largely centres around communication. The bonobos can sign and type on a computer keyboard, making known their wants and needs, and distresses. Although there are a number of human characters in the book as well, we mainly get to know Isabel, the main researcher and her boyfriend Peter (another researcher), and journalist John Thigpen and his wife Amanda. Without giving away too much of the plot, lets just say things go awry, thanks to animal rights activists, and the chimps end up being put in a "house of their own" which is filmed 24/7 for a reality TV show. (Bonobos have a very high level of sexual behavior with frequent.. ummm... "interaction"... so this is the reason behind the constant tv monitoring.) I would have liked to learn more about the bonobos themselves, they are obviously very high functioning and their ability to communicate is fascinating. However, the plot follows another path and although entertaining (cheap hotels, strippers, meth labs, porn and the like - you name it, it was there!) and sometimes downright humourous, it did seem a bit far-fetched at times. But it kept me turning the pages, anxious to see what could possibly happen next. I liked it, yes. As well as Water for Elephants? No not quite. But almost. I think after Sarum, I was just ready for some lighter "entertaining" reading. And this fit the bill.
"Some women have a weakness for shoes. I can go barefoot if necessary. I have a weakness for books." ~ Oprah Winfrey