When I picked up this book at our RLC library a few weeks back, I was drawn to the purple-toned cover and the illustrations. But when I started to the first few pages of the book, I was inveigled to keep on reading. Girl Meets Ape, by Chris Manby.
"He's the King of the Swingers. But she's the Ice Queen."
When Dr Jennifer Niederhauser becomes head of the chimpanzee project at Prowdes Animal Sanctuary, the uptight young zoologist looks forward to making her mark in the conservation world. But the regime is ramshackle, the chimpanzees uncontrollable and her first meeting with head keeper Guy Gibson finds him naked and covered in baby oil. She decides never to work with animals or the childish again. But, she may not have a job for much longer anyway – Prowdes is in big financial trouble.Salvation comes in the form of a TV documentary. Prowdes needs the money and exposure. But does Jennifer need to be exposed to the show’s smooth presenter, chimpanzee expert Dr Timothy Lauder? The ultimate alpha male.
We have the classic case of an uptight, all-work-no-play, and too-busy-to-have-fun heroine, Jennifer Niederhauser a.k.a. Jenny to those whoever get away with it. There's only two people who have been able to do it, Dahlia, her best friend who kept on shoving down vapid swain on her plate, and Timothy, her ex who as she would gracely define as promiscuous and sexually active as the Bonobos chimp he was studying about. Going through life without relationship had never been a problem for her and it was never on her mind to even find a suitable homo sapien to copulate with. In her own way, she was doing fine. But as soon as she steps in the animal sanctuary, Prowdes, in Tincastle, she was booed and irked at no sign of stop. It was then, her life turned hay-wired. I like how that sounded. Hahaha.
And here where the story takes it up close to our hero, Guy Gibson, a keeper by day, stripper by night. He was called, the King of Swingers, in both worlds. He's good looking, compassionate, and has a great 'banana'. Well, it was mentioned in the book, I'm just stating it to you guys. He's a realist with a sad background story. I almost wept for the guy. You can tell that he is no doubt an amazing stripper, but his charm lies elsewhere from strutting his bod and waving his wankers in a gorilla suit for hen nights. He loves the chimps in the Prowdes and would do anything for them. You can feel the warmth and passionate love for the animal in his character.
I find this novel to be quite a romantic comedy. The other character can be as entertaining and charming as a side humour, lighting up the mood of the story. One character in particular was Jo-Jo, the youngest keeper in the sanctuary with a knack for causing trouble and dropping scurrilous comments to Jenny, whom she wasn't a fan of.
The other thing about this novel which I liked the most is the primate education that it can impart. I can assure you that the whole time while you're reading this book, you'll be learning lots of new scientific study about chimpanzees and its family, how they are similar to human in neurological senses, and for me, the vocabularies are great addition to my limited pool of words. The author also manages to pull quite a lot of chimp-medical-related jokes, and it worked real good.
At the climax of the story, I was totally immersed in the situation. I could vividly visualise myself in that scenario and feel the suspense. My heard was thumping as I read each line and dialogue, enraptured with the tension and thrill when Achilles (the alpha male in the sanctuary) was chasing down Timothy who was running around like a girl, and when he was beating up Ulysess (the new chimp discovered when a smugglers' boat was being confiscated by the local authorities). It was so intense.
That shows how good the writer is because I can easily put myself in the scenario and clearly visualise every scene, from beginning til the end. A good writer knows how to take their readers into the world they are creating by letting the reader 'see' the story itself, rather than just reading it for the sake of reading. So, conclusively, I would say that this is a good book and you should pick it up. Just because it is somewhat of a 'chick flick' doesn't mean that it's not a good book. I've never read any of Chris Manby's work before and I think I might start reading her books. I can totally relate to her work, not saying that I'm a girl and I love how the romance work, but I love her writing style.