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Ape House

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  18,768 ratings  ·  3,408 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.
Hardcover, 367 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Linda
Sara Gruen is a wonderful writer and I truly enjoyed "Ape House". I previously read "Water for Elephants" and was eager to read her newest book. I loved "Water for Elephants" as it was a very well done and I learned a great deal from the book. I thought that I might be somewhat disappointed in "Ape House" because I found "Water for Elephants" so captivating. Ape House did not disappoint me, but "Water for Elephants" continues to be my favorite of Gruen's books.

I continue to be appalled and disap
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Timothy Hinkle
I started this book under the impression that it was a piece of capital L Literature, but it turned out to be more along the lines of one of the earlier Anita Blake books with bonobos replacing the vampires. It took me a while to get into, but eventually I started to enjoy reading this. It's fun and silly and things explode. Despite what the jacket blurbs say, it's unlikely to change your life (unless you're the sort of person who sees an episode of Scooby-Doo and immediately starts a charitable ...more
Rita
It pains me to not have liked this book.

Sara Gruen obviously is a champion for the humane treatment of animals and it shines through in her fiction. It seems like she'd be a witty and kind and smart person, someone I'd really love to hang out with.

This book, though, was not a great read. And, I hate to say that.

In one of the previous reviews on this page, someone said that maybe she should have written a memoir about her experiences with the apes instead of trying to make a fiction story out of
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EZRead eBookstore
I saw Sara Gruen speak about “Ape House” at the BEA before the release of the book. The woman is 199.99% crazy for bonobos, after having spent time in a language research center for apes in Iowa. Most of the cute short stories that she told about her own adventures showed up in the book, which begs the question; why didn’t she just make this nonfiction and bypass all the silliness? “Ape House” is stuffed with dues ex machinas, goofy coincidences, and caricatures right out of a high school improv ...more
Christopher
The novel lacked anything resembling character development and has a bumbling, senseless plot. It reads like the manuscript of a first-time novelist; in fact, I've read better manuscripts and self-published novels than this highly-acclaimed author's third book. If you love Sara Gruen or are masochistic, pick it up and brace yourself.
Janelle
I picked up an advance reader's edition of this at the ALA conference this summer (2010). This is Sara Gruen's much-awaited second fourth! novel - her Water for Elephants did very well (and the copy I recycled at my book group's holiday book exchange was much fought over).

The "ape house" has many meanings. On the surface, it's a community of bonobos living in a university research facility. The bonobos are highly intelligent and, in the end, far more human than many of the humans in the book. I
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Lisa Nocita
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bookmarks Magazine
Overall, critics considered Ape House a dissatisfying follow-up to Water for Elephants. With its evocative Depression-era setting and unforgettable characters, Water continues to enthrall legions of fans. Unfortunately, some reviewers found Ape House's intriguing premise overshadowed by poor editing, a "silly story," and "trite characters" (Washington Post). Others felt that Gruen glossed over key issues. A few did enjoy Ape House, and lauded Gruen's "knack ... for creating distinctive animal ch ...more
Sarah
Solid three and a half stars, but I'll round up since I read this book in less than a day (and a busy one at that), and there are very few books that make me drop everything to read these days.
I've read all three of Gruen's previous books, and enjoyed them all, though Water for Elephants was by far the most accomplished of the three. When I first heard the premise of this book, I was a little skeptical. It sounded forced. It's not. Everything about the Bonobos seems real and possible. In all of
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Rachel
I was so prepared to love this book and, only 30 pages in, I thought I did. I got sucked into loving those bonobos so fast, and caring about what happening to them, Isabel, and John. Let me tell you - it didn't last long. Well... let me correct myself: My love for the PEOPLE didn't last long.

The rest of what I have to say is an extremely angry, spoilerific rant, which I pray you read if you think this was a book that was worth your time.
(view spoiler)
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Heather
May 20, 2011 Heather rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ppl who like contemporary fiction like Jodi
Shelves: adult
I would like to thank Bridget for helping me enjoy this book. Bridget, you read this expecting quality literature, or at least a good/touching story, which it was not, so you hated it. I then read it expecting it to be awful, which it also was not, so I liked it!

It wasn't particularly well-written, well-character-developed, etc., etc. I completely agree w/Bridget's review that some of the plot twists were fairly ridic - and convenient (guy comes into the place where the neighbor works? other guy
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Matthew
This book lacked the majesty and wonder that made Water for Elephants so enticing. There are some graphic scenes of animal cruelty, which I found hard to read. The characters are likable, but not totally engrossing or unique. The amazingly human-like behavior of the bonobo chimps in the novel was really what had me reading to the end.
Karen Germain
Sara Gruen wrote one of my favorite novels, “Water For Elephants”, so I was really hoping that I would enjoy her latest novel, “Ape House.” Unfortunately, it completely fell flat. The story was clunky with cliché characters and absurd plot lines.

On the positive, it started with a great idea. What if Bonobos who could speak ASL fell into the hands of the wrong people, specifically a sleazy porn/reality TV producer? The story brings up many valid moral questions and puts forth some interesting ide
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Kathryn
I started this book on the plane leaving for vacation. I only read in the evening while my husband was watching TV at night and finished it in three days/evenings. It was SO GOOD! Fascinating about bonobos and how much they resemble human beings. Quite the sexual species. Sara Gruen writes so fluidly, easy to follow and understand. I learned a bunch as I was absorbed into this wonderful story.
Lauren1012
Scrolling through the reviews, I find it interesting that most people seem to feel this book was a disappointment after Water for Elephants. I guess I'm in the minority; I didn't really like Water for Elephants that much (it was ok, but not something I'd rave about as others have), so I wasn't sure I'd like this book. But, my friend insisted that I read it and just had to trust her. I'm glad I did. At first I thought I was going to be disappointed; it seemed like the author was laying the ground ...more
Suzanne
Ape House is superb! Gruen is an excellent writer and her ability to incorporate the interrelationship between human beings and animals makes her a unique and original voice. The animals here are bonobo apes, an endangered great ape species closest to humans. Bonobos are remarkable for their ability to communicate,(they can be taught sign language) their fine motor skills (can turn a page in a book one page at a time) and their sexuality. Apparently humans, dolphins and bonobos are the only spec ...more
Lauren
How in the world was this written by the same author who gave the world Water for Elephants? Ms. Gruen switched publishing houses between books, and it makes me wonder if her previous editor deserves most of the credit for the bestselling novel. This book is supposed to be about bonobos taken from a research center and turned into the stars of a reality show. And that plot is there, in the background, hidden by boring, poorly mapped plot lines that go nowhere fast (that many of the summaries for ...more
Elphaba J
A Casa dos Primatas é muito mais do que um simples romance. É uma narrativa sobre formas de vidas semelhantes com a capacidade de tocar o homem, que as desvaloriza, através das suas parecenças e diferenciações. São formas de vida apaixonantes que com a sua inocência, com as suas definições do que é certo e errado, e com a sua capacidade de aproximação afectiva não deixarão indiferentes quem tenha um coração aberto. Fala sobre símios, bonobos, afectivos, inteligentes e, de forma profunda, sexualm ...more
Mallory
I feel sorry for Sara Gruen. Everything she writes will forever be compared against Water for Elephants, which is a high bar for anyone, even the author of the selfsame novel. That said, Ape House is no [novel: Water for Elephants], despite addressing a handful of similar themes.

Gruen is an expert at creating human-like animal characters; this time around, it is a tribe of Bonobos which would make any reader want to dive into ape linguistic studies. Unfortunately, however, the Bonobos are the mo
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Jill Paulson
I LOVED Water for Elephants and honestly, was looking forward to reading Ape House. Same author...it should be just as good, if not better, right?

Not right. And now that I've read a few reviews from others, it seems I'm not the only one who was more than a little disappointed.

I'm sure that Gruen was trying to keep the plot line moving with all her twists and turns, but it all ended up feeling trite and some of the 'coincidences' that she used to connect characters (like a contrived paternity pl
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Gena
Listening to an audio book is a different experience from reading, but I thought as a literary effort Ape House was charmless and formulaic. It has none of the offbeat appeal of Gruen's abused elephant, orphan veterinarian and raffish circus types in Water for Elephants. Here the protagonist calls his wife "baby," rhapsodizes about her eggs benedict, and worries she won't be able to fend off the wolves when she takes a job in LA. The wife is just as bad, dressing in her best lingerie and serving ...more
Christine
Isabell Duncan is a research scientist studying language through teaching bonobo apes sign language. Her lab is blown up shortly after a visit from reporter John Thigpen, and the apes are unharmed but no longer in Isabell’s control. The resulting storyline of the book is the search for the missing Bonobo apes.

I loved WATER FOR ELEPHANTS and unfortunately can not say the same thing for this book. Although is was an entertaining read and obviously well researched, it did not have the character an
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Bridget
Oh, Sara Gruen, what did you do? I really enjoyed Water for Elephants. I thought it was touching and interesting and I remember really feeling a connection to the characters.

Such was not the case in Ape House. It's (fairly) common knowledge that Gruen is a big animal supporter and that this book would be a thinly-veiled animal rights plea was no shock to me. The book started off strong enough. A reporter and a scientist-linguist specializing in bonobos do an interview and then the lab blows up.
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Amber
While I've loved the last 2 Sara Gruen books that I've read, I was still surprised with just how much I loved this one. The elements of mystery and suspense are woven so seamlessly together in this story. There is more here than the story of the apes, or the story of their caretakers, or even the story of those covering those stories. I had a terrible time putting this book down.
The criminal plots were not something I was expecting when I started this book but she has proven that she can handle
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Patrícia
Sara mudou-se para o Canadá em 1999 para trabalhar como redactora mas quando, dois anos depois foi demitida, decidiu aventurar-se na escrita de ficção, aventura esse que culminou em dois livros, dois romances sobre as ligações entre as pessoas e os cavalos, tendo um deles sido bestseller do USA Today. Apaixonada por animais e uma contadora de histórias fabulosa, Sara criou uma obra-prima que lhe valeria o estatuto de uma das escritoras mais amadas do nosso tempo, o encantador e triste Água para ...more
William Breakstone

BOOK REVIEW

“APE HOUSE,” by Sara Gruen

Reviewed by Bill Breakstone, October 9, 2010


There are four species of great apes in the world: all belonging to the taxonomic family Homindae: chimpanzees; bonobos; orangutans and gorillas. A fifth member of the species is the human being. These apes are our closest wild relatives. According to The Great Ape Trust, a scientific facility located in Des Moines, Iowa “all members of this family of apes share possibly more than 97% of their DNA with humans. The g
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Booknblues
There are so many little things wrong with the story that it adds up to alot wrong and that is truly unfortunate. If an editor had taken the time to work with Sara Gruen and made her tell a story that was focused with language and prose that was elevated above a cheap pulp fiction this would have been an excellent book.

Many of the characters have been reduced to cartoonish portraits instead of a person you would believe is real. This is unfortunate because again, there is an opportunity to eleva
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Lisa
When I read the summary of this book, I felt an uncomfortable fear that Sara Gruen had bitten off more than she could chew, and all sorts of horrible scenarios spiraled through my brain. I cringed at the thought of apes, more furry human than anything else, imparting some valuable life lesson to their benevolent overseers, grateful for the opportunity to imitate some level of 'human'. 'My god,' I thought, 'what if she calls them monkeys?'

I should have known better.

The use of sign language by gre
...more
Brennan
I didn't know what I expected reading this, but I didn't expect what I got. Ape House reads like a trashy romance novel based on a half-baked pop political philosophy. The cover says something to the effect of "How different are we from animals?" To give you an idea of what to expect, thats the least subtle correlation in the text. prepare to have this hackneyed connection shoved in your face, mixed in with your dinner, and beat over your head.

While the idea could have had stronger legs, it rea
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M
I don't do animals. In fact, I wasn't going to take this book out because I don't do animals, and I definitely don't do monkeys, and I also really don't get this strange phenomenon where people are determined to bridge the gap between man and animals. Personally, I am very happy to leave things the way they naturally seem to me - separate species, etc - and I don't have much interest in reading about it.
But. Sara Gruen! Good time circus Water for Elephants Sara Gruen! Could I hope that this woul
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Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants has become one of the most beloved and bestselling novels of our time. Readers fell in love with Water for Elephants and its story of Jacob, a young man tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, and Rosie, the untrainable elephant. This instant #1 New York Times bestseller is now available in 44 langua ...more
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