James's Reviews > Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle
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's review
Aug 03, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: sci-fi

The book by Peter Boulle is quite different in many respects to the resultant films and TV series – The Planet of the Apes!

If you've seen the film (and who hasn't?) then you know the story of Charlton Heston's crew, crashing on a planet run by apes and through various adventures finds at the end [Spoiler for the two or three who have not seen the film yet] that the planet he has crashed on is actually the planet Earth and the apes arose after a mighty atomic war!

Book's Themes:

The book is different. The author himself has called it a social fantasy and I see why.

A couple in a star craft of some kind find a note in a bottle. Inside the bottle is a manuscript which takes the story of Ulysse, Earth explorer and his adventures on a planet named Sorror in the Betelgeuse system. The book is made up of this manuscript.

Ulysse, one of three astronauts, arrived at Sorror and find the humans there stupid like animals. After some adventure, he is captured by the civilized apes of this planet. In many ways, the author is criticizing the slow growth of civilization, Dark Ages, and how the ones who believe old theory (such as the planet is the center of the universe) will not progress far.

The chimps are the intellectuals; the orangutans are the keepers of theory and law, as backward as it is, and the gorillas are the tough guys, the security & police force. All three of these resent each other, in similar fashion to the intellectuals and the conservatives here in Earth.

The ending is not bad; it reminds me of the ending of Tim Burton's version of the Planet of the Apes. Unlike Burton's movie though, the ending makes a lot more sense, if a shocking one!

Recommended reading for those who want to read the original story behind all those great movies! Easy to read, done in a day or two. Boulle also wrote "Bridge on the River Kwai," another book to film that was excellently portrayed. Can't wait to read that!

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