Ape House

  • by Sara Gruen
  • Narrated by Paul Boehmer
  • 11 hrs and 14 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.

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What the Critics Say

"While the set-up may sound improbable, Gruen’s characters – both human and ape – are finely drawn and ultimately believable. Gruen’s research into the use of American Sign Language as a means of communicating with the bonobos informs her story (and the reader) without weighing it down. This is a satisfying, entertaining page-turner of a novel." (San Francisco Book Review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Interesting Premise

The lives and loves of the Bonobo apes were appealing and compelling, especially, for the purposes of fiction, their use of ASL. The reality show "Ape House" was an awesome invention, and the reader couldn't help getting pulled in by the thoughts and behavior of the apes. But...and why does there have to be a "but"? The action just became too frenzied towards the end, too many change-ups, creating narrative whiplash. It's almost as if the novel was being tweaked by editors, and the real work by Sara Gruen is only there at the beginning. It's unfortunate that "Water for Elephants" was so good, as all Gruen's other novels will suffer by comparison, unless she comes up with something better. Which this novel was most definitely not, lacking the depth, detail, measured pace and multi-leveled characterization of the first novel. This book is definitely a good read, but it's primarily an "action" story, and nothing like "Water for Elephants", which is on another plane entirely.
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- Pamela Harvey "glam"

Such high hopes

I absolutely loved Water For Elephants. Sadly, Ape House can't hold a candle. I could never quite connect with any of the characters, in spite of the author's penchant for seriously tedious and minute detail all along the way. The plot is just compelling enough to keep one wondering how things will end up at last, but I found myself forwarding through the recording during the last two hours as I couldn't stand it dragging along any more. I just wanted to know what finally happened to the wretched apes! I'm afraid the narrator may also have driven me slightly mad during this book. Very precise diction (to the point of distraction) which somehow served to highlight the tedium of the descriptions, and some pronunciation which actually made me scream out loud at one point. Otherwise, he portrayed the characters nicely--it's just a timing-thing, I guess. Perhaps you will like this recording better than me, but if you're expecting something as fabulous as Water For Elephants you'll likely be dismayed. Gosh, I hate to be so negative, but this book just drove me nuts!
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- Carolyn

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-07-2010
  • Publisher: Random House Audio