Ape House is a perfectly serviceable book to read on your day off. It isn’t as good as Water for Elephants but I give it a solid 3.5 stars; and it isn’t much of a time commitment.
Isabel Duncan works in a language lab that is researching the communication skills of bonobos; the lab is bombed which leads to the sale of the apes to an anonymous owner. Isabel is more upset that her fiance was responsible for the sale of the bonobos than she is with him for sleeping with an intern. After Isabel recovers from her injuries (she was the only human still inside the lab when it was bombed) she heads to New Mexico where her ape family is staring in a 24-hour reality TV show called Ape House.
John Thigpen (named only so Gruen can have other characters make “pigpen” jokes) is on of the last reporters to visit the lab before the bombing. His story is scooped by a fellow reporter and leads John to resign his post at the Philadelphia Inquirer. There is an unnecessary subplot in which John’s wife, Amanda, gets an unpaid gig co-writing a new TV show in LA- John moves out there and is upset at how she systematically is changing herself into a California Barbie. However, he Hollywood connections get him a job at a tabloid that puts him back on the bonobos story.
Isabel and John’s paths cross in New Mexico and together they make a plan to rescue the apes from the ratings obsessed producers of Ape House. Everything moves very quickly and is wrapped up in a neat bow by the end of our story. Of course, if the stakes were too high I would probably be complaining because I get stressed out when even fictional animals’ lives are in danger.