Sara Gruen set the bar so high with Water for Elephants that it's easy to compare the two and say this book is not as good. Still this is well worth reading. Yes, the plot is a bit contrived and call it trite if you must but I believe Sara Gruen's writing has gotten even better.If you think who cares about a bunch of stinky apes you will most likely not like this book. You don't have to love animals to enjoy this but it helps. More sympathy is developed for the apes than for the humans. This is not to say they are cardboard cut-outs for they are engaging characters but like that famous Hollywood adage goes, don't work with kids or animals because you're bound to get upstaged. My only gripe with this book is the number of times characters are reduced to quivering jelly, ready to shed tears at the drop of a hat. This routine is overplayed and gets a bit tedious by the end of the book. But set preconcieved notions aside and you will enjoy this book for the strength of the writing if for nothing else.