Monday, February 21, 2011

ape house questions, part 3

Wrapping it up! Although I didn't love the book, I did really enjoy reading along with the Book Beginnings and Bookends group and I am looking forward to next time!

1. How would you describe the relationship between John and Isabel?

Blah. I don't understand what happened! It seemed like something exciting was going to happen and then it just fizzled to nothing. I didn't want John to cheat on Amanda, but I was hoping there would be some "oh, are they going to kiss!?" moment and there was nothing. It seemed like any attraction was one-sided (John's) and I'm not really sure what the point of it all was.

2. What was your reaction to finding out Peter's role in the explosion and capture of the apes?

I kinda saw it coming. The author had been hinting that Peter wasn't such a great guy since the beginning. It made sense that someone from the "inside" had facilitated the capture and I really didn't think it would be Celia.  He was a bum.

3. Both John and Amanda ended up achieving their professional goals. Amanda ended up getting pregnant and John is excited about having a baby. Do you think this is the end to their problems? Can John and Amanda be happy?

If John got all hot and bothered about someone he hardly knew, I can't believe that he wouldn't do it again. I also wonder how much Isabel had to do with his love for the apes. He is still reporting on the apes and Isabel. He is also taking these dangerous assignments to Africa while his wife is pregnant?! I would hope that he would snap out of it and be happy at home, but I doubt it. Perhaps if his career is fulfilling, he can be happy at home.
4. What did you find to be the most intriguing about the bonobos?

The language! I would love to watch them communicating with Isabel. They are so misunderstood and underappreciated.  

5. Which character did you enjoy reading about the most?

Isabel. She seemed the most interesting and complex. I always enjoyed when the author came back to her. She was so strong. She battled back from the horrible accident hardly thinking of herself but only of her apes. I would have wanted more on her history. Her insistence on calling the bonobos family made her seem so lonely. 

6. Was the ending what you expected? Did things resolve the way you thought they would?

The tone of the book led me to believe that it would have a happy ending. I couldn't imagine the apes being killed or sent off to that horrible test site. I did think that John and Amanda's marriage might have ended or at least left rocky, but I didn't think John and Isabel would get together. 

7. And finally, any overall thoughts or feelings that these questions haven't addressed? How would you rate this book for others? Any part that you loved? Anything you hated? SHARE!

I honestly didn't love the book! I thought there was way too much going on. What was the deal with the meth lab and the dog? What about Isabel's background? Why did Gruen try to make us think that John was the father of the green haired kid? I'm not sure why we needed to know the story of his first sexual experience. Cut the green haired kid, cut the meth lab and the dog, cut all the details on the porn star. Give me more on the bonobos and Isabel. I thought the scenes inside the Ape House were the most interesting. I wish much more of the book had been spent detailing their adventures. I guess I was just frustrated that it ended with so many random loose ends. I'm not sure how I would rate it... What is the scale? I give it 2 out of 5 Jane Austens!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

ape house questions, part 2

Here are my responses for chapters 13 to 25 in Ape House for the Book Beginnings and Bookends group.  I read ahead, like last time, and I am really regretting it! I'm struggling to put myself back where I was before I had finished the book... Next time I will wait for the rest of the group!

1. Would you watch or be tempted to watch a show like Ape House?

Aside from being a HUGE fan of the Bachelor, I don't watch a lot of reality tv. I guess I watch Jersey Shore, too, which seems a little like Ape House. I could see watching it once or twice, but concern for the animals would make me turn it off.  It is such an unnatural setting for them! If someone like Isabel had been part of the show and it seemed to be a loving environment, I might have watched!

2. Do you think John did the right thing by quitting his job and moving to L.A.?

I do. His marriage was suffering and nothing good could have come from him staying behind. He needed to get out of that job, too, although I thought he was a little crazy for leaving before finding a new one.  I also found it sad that he and Amanda hadn't talked through her new career and move more thoroughly before she left. She sprung it on him and expected him to just go with it. He took the news better than a lot of partners would. I wonder how moving to New Mexico will affect their relationship.

3. We haven't seen a whole lot of Isabel in this section, but what do you think of Peter now that we know more about him?

He is a creep! He slept with Celia, which is enough to think he is a bad guy, but his previous treatment of the apes makes him seem like an opportunist. I am also pretty confident that the "shithead from Kansas" is Peter. He must be involved in the show, and possibly the sale of the apes to Ken Faulks. I'm not sure why Faulks would have a relationship with him otherwise.

4. Can John turn the ape story for the tabloid into something he is proud of? Is he getting a little bit of redemption by being assigned to his dream story again even if it is for a tabloid?

I can't imagine US Weekly publishing an in depth article on the mistreatment of apes, even if there were a hit television show on the subject. It would be fluffy and really just filler for the photos... not that I don't love US Weekly! If this were reality, he could bring some attention to the apes and maybe help the cause. I doubt his editor would want more than that. I keep thinking that he should sell the story to a better paper. Can a journalist even do that? Probably not. Based on the tone of this book, I bet he gets the final story published in its entirety so that his trip to LA wasn't a total waste.

5. Have your thoughts on John and Amanda's marriage changed since last week? Where do you see their marriage headed?

Their relationship is so sad. She is clearly struggling and he is gone.  I keep thinking something horrible is going to happen to her- she is robbed, she has a horrible miscarriage, she is publicly embarrassed by having her ideas stolen and kicked off the show. My thoughts haven't really changed. I still think that John will seek comfort in Isabel and Amanda will be terribly hurt.

6. What do you think will end up happening to the apes?

I really can't imagine that Gruen would end this book unhappily. I'm not sure exactly how it will play out- another university offers to buy them, an anonymous donor helps Isabel to purchase them, maybe something illegal is revealed about the sale and the FBI gets involved- but the apes will be okay.

Monday, February 7, 2011

ape house questions, part 1

I joined the Book Beginnings and Bookends book club! I have fond memories of wine, gossip and better reading habits from my last club. A virtual club meeting means that I am only left with the books, but so far that is working out for me. I can drink wine will I am reading the other members' posts! The current book is Ape House by Sara Gruen, of Water for Elephants fame.

We are asked to answer questions from the book on our blogs, so here we go! It hurt my brain a little, particularly when I tried to pretend that I hadn't read ahead! I would love to discuss further in the comments. You can join the group here.

1. What was your initial reaction to the idea of a language lab with bonobos who are capable of having conversations with humans?

I was interested! I find our relationship to apes fascinating. There is still so much more to learn from them. I was also probably a little nervous about animal cruelty. The word "lab" conjures images of needles and cages. I am uncomfortable at zoos as I feel like those animals should be in their native environments. I understand that zoos can sometimes help protect a species from extinction and that our education is important, but it still makes me squirm.

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?

We do not share the same social restraints- I am assuming that the bonobos have their own rules! Their sexual behavior was the most apparently different from our own. They are free to have both homosexual and heterosexual encounters publicly with any of the apes in the lab (excluding little Lola). They have preferences, but it seems to be more of an admiration than a romantic relationship. We also do not live in a matriarchal society. Bonzi is in charge of their group and thus far her superiority has not been challenged. She is not their mother, and yet both the males and females follow her. This is not unheard of in our culture, but it is not the norm.

3. What are your thoughts on John and his feelings toward Isabel? How do you think their relationship will play out?

I am hoping that their romance is never realized. His relationship with his wife is strained by her depression and new career, which might make Isabel more attractive. They hardly know each other (at least by chapter 12). I think his attraction is just an escape from stresses at home. If I had to guess based on the clues the author has laid out, I'm sure there will at least be some kissing in commiseration of their battle to get the apes or in celebration of their return home, particularly with Amanda in Los Angeles. Amanda will find out and be hurt but I don't see Isabel and John running off into the sunset together.

4. How do you think Isabel will respond to the apes being taken?

I admit I read ahead, but her reaction isn't a surprise. She won't stop until they are in a safe environment where she can be close to them again. She considers them family. Without a close human family of her own and a less than perfect relationship with her fiance, they are all she has.

5. Do you think Celia is part of the team that ambushed the learning center?

No. She cares about Isabel and the apes too much to risk their safety. I think being part of an animal activist group could be congruent with the activities at their lab. She is definitely odd and secretive. Isabel trusts her and we haven't been given enough clues to make me believe that she has a dark side.

6. What are your thoughts on John and his relationship with Amanda?

He loves her. They have been together for most of his adult life. His career is being challenged and Amanda's depression forces him to suppress his own needs. Her move to LA is threatening to make things even more difficult. He is looking outside the relationship for an escape.
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