Monday, February 7, 2011

Ape House - Chapters 1-12

Our online, blogger bookclub, is reading Ape House by Sara Gruen, the author of Water For Elephants. I'm only 12 chapters in and I LOVE it. So good. Below are my answers to the questions for the first 12 chapters. SPOILER ALERT. If you plan to read this book, which you should, stop reading here!!!!!

Alright, now that we got that out of the way....
I immediately fell into love with this book. I can't wait to see where it goes. I had to make myself stop reading last night so that I could finish weekend chores and so I didn't finish the book in one sitting.
1. What was your initial reaction to the idea of a language lab with bonobos who are capable of having conversations with humans? I didn't see this concept as too far fetched. I think that they are probably closer to us genetically that we think they are. I know ASL has been taught to some primates, probably the extent of their language skills was the most surprising. The fact that they could be asked to accept or reject visitors, order food, etc was a little far out there, but it's fiction, we'll just roll with it. I have no doubt that animals can express emotions and the fact that they can actually vocalize (by signing) their feelings would create a unique bond between the bonobos and their caretakers.

2. Isabel said early in the book that the apes know they're apes and know that the humans are humans, but they don't see any superiority with either... What do you think the major difference is between the two? I think that she meant that the apes don't think that being human is better than being ape. They are living a pretty sweet life, getting taken care of in a controlled environment with humans that genuinely love and care for them more than just a science project. I don't think that they are envious of the people around them for BEING human. This could maybe be similar to boys know they are boys and that girls are girls, but one is not better than the other.

3. What are your thoughts on John and his feelings toward Isabel? How do you think their relationship will play out? I was guessing from the beginning, based on how John described his day with Isabel, that he was into it more than just platonically. And then we found out he has a wife. A wife that he cares for. But he can't get Isabel off his mind. I think that they will have a romantic relationship, I would be surprised if they didn't at least slip up and share a kiss.

4. How do you think Isabel will respond to the apes being taken? I think she will track them down and try to rescue them from their new owners. It was heartbreaking that the University would just sell them off at the first sign of trouble, especially after having put so much time, money, effort, and personnel into the project.

5. Do you think Celia is part of the team that ambushed the learning center? No, I think it would be too obvious if she is. Although, it would only be one step deeper to show alternative motives. I like Isabel a lot, I think that if she believes that Celia is innocent, she may be right. I will be sad if she turns out to be involved.

6. What are your thoughts on John and his relationship with Amanda? I think John is having a rough go of it right now. At a time where his wife seems to be in a depression, he meets this new girl, Isabel. By the time he gets home, Amanda has a turn of events that may be her key to getting her life back on track. Now that he's already let his thoughts and emotions consider Isablel, he's torn between getting his wife back and the new girl. I hope he sticks with his wife, supports her, and they turn out OK. 

What are your initial impressions of the book? Love it? Hate it? Think it's ridiculous and over the top? I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks!


  1. I am loving the book so far--it's pretty interesting to me! While I don't think it's as good as Water for Elephants (I can't help it!) I have been enjoying reading it!

  2. I am really liking the book so far too - I feel so bad for what the bonobos are going through and for how helpless Isabel seems to feel right now. As a side story I am so interested in John and Amanda - He seems to love her so much that I hope they can work things out so that she is happier!