gina's Reviews > Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle
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Aug 05, 2011

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bookshelves: sci-fi, library, speculative-fiction, movie-tv
Read from August 15 to 19, 2011

I read the original Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle on the heels of seeing the new movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. (Loved it, by the way.)

It's tough to write about a book that has been made into a movie that is iconic in popular culture. Certainly nobody expects the book and the movie to be the same, and of course in this case, there were lots of differences. But honestly, it's really hard to get the images of Charleton Heston and Kim Hunter out of your head when you're reading Planet of the Apes.

Having said that, this book was a good solid piece of science or speculative fiction with major thematic issues. The most significant issue is probably experimental testing on animals or people. (view spoiler) A really good piece of science fiction will explore a moral or ethical issue, and Planet of the Apes is no exception.

(view spoiler)

What I didn't like about the book was its almost complete lack of dialogue in the first half, and limited dialogue in the second half. It was really hard to read so much exposition and description; my eyes would glaze over and I'd have to poke myself to keep reading. I know this was partially intentional because the space traveler did not understand ape language, but even after he became fluent, there was still limited dialogue. Also it's really difficult to develop characters when everything presented about them is done by the point-of-view description of another character (this is told in the first person by one of our travelers). The writing is so-so.

If you really love the movie franchise, then go ahead and read this book--it's a quick read. But if you're looking for a well-written piece of science fiction, maybe you should swing to another tree.
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