Our first book of the new year is Ape House, by Sara Gruen. I should preface this by saying that I haven't read her first bestseller, Water for Elephants, so I went into this book with absolutely no preconceived notions or expections. So far I'm really enjoying this book and I'm also trying to follow the rules of only reading a certain amount of the book each week...I think that's the hardest part! So...onto the discussion questions.
1. What was your initial reaction to the idea of a language lab with bonobos who are capable of having conversations with humans?
~I certainly wasn't opposed to this idea, I was assuming in the beginning that bonobos were a type of monkey but I'd never actually heard of them before reading this book. As with most everyone else, it seemed that the monkeys were being treated incredibly well and in some cases treated better than humans.
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?
~I think that while each species can understand who they are, and that they're not the same as the other...it still boils down to who has control. While the monkeys certainly didn't want to be sold to another owner, it still happened. Of course, there are many instances where humans lack control of circumstances as well...but all in all, it's humans who are controlling the destiny of the apes. As much as they might want to manipulate and control their day-to-day activities, in the end most humans are still going to consider them exactly what they are...animals.
3. What are your thoughts on John and his feelings toward Isabel? How do you think their relationship will play out?
~I got a bad vibe about this relationship from the very beginning. It's perfectly acceptable for two people of opposite sex to respect each other for their knowledge and abilities...and completely another to become infatuated with that person. I'm hoping their relationship won't move forward into anything but a professional one...but I have a feeling this won't be what happens in the end.
4. How do you think Isabel will respond to the apes being taken?
~I'm thinking she's gonna freak! The book has yet to indicate any other family members, and even when she needs help she calls on Celia. So...I think the apes are the only family she has. Her fiance' is there but obviously doesn't have the same passion about the apes that she does.
5. Do you think Celia is part of the team that ambushed the learning center?
~I'd like to hope not, but all the timing certainly lines up against her. However, I'm hoping that this was simply a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time...or in her case, not being in the right place to prove her innocence!
6. What are your thoughts on John and his relationship with Amanda?
~I think they certainly love each other...but do they love each other enough to survive Amanda's depression? She is viewing herself as a failure in her professional life and I think all too quickly she'll feel like a failure in their marriage if something doesn't happen very fast.