Ape House

Sara Gruen, Spiegel & Grau, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-52321-9
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.)
Reviewed on: 07/05/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-4447-1599-6
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-385-66445-5
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-7393-2804-0
Ebook - 246 pages - 978-0-385-53025-5
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4159-6278-7
Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-6854-1
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-307-36795-2
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-61657-089-7
Hardcover - 306 pages - 978-0-385-66444-8
Hardcover - 317 pages - 978-1-74269-149-7
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-957-33-2799-8
Hardcover - 367 pages - 978-1-4447-1601-6
Paperback - 336 pages
Paperback - 367 pages - 978-1-4447-1602-3
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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