Sara Gruen follows her bestseller, Water for Elephants, with Ape House. Although both deal with animals, Ape House is very different. In Ape House, the main character, Isabel, works with bonobos, studying language acquisition. The lab is bombed, and the university which owns the apes sells them. Isabel is gravely injured in the attack. She is also desperate to find the bonobos. The story also follows a journalist who had interviewed Isabel prior to the bombing. John, the journalist, is also searching for the bonabos, trying to land the story of a career, and trying to find what’s missing in his marriage.
This story is not as elegant as Water for Elephants. There almost seems to be too many elements to the story, as if Gruen could not decide which angle she wanted to take. I wanted the narration to stay focused on Isabel and the bonobos and have less about John and his wife.
I enjoyed the story, but I feel that good editing would have benefited the final product. One thing that I cannot fault Gruen for, though, is research. It is obvious that she spent a great deal of time learning about bonobos and how the communicate.