"Real" book two was Planet of the Apes. And okay, apes, not monkeys, but still. Monkeys!
I'm actually pretty torn on this book. First off, I've seen the movies. The original series, that is, with Charlton Heston. (I'm pretty sure I've seen the one with Mark Wahlberg, too, but I don't remember it.) So I thought I knew the twist. (Though when I watched the Heston film, I didn't know that the twist was a twist. I didn't realize we shouldn't have known he had landed back on Earth.) But this? No Statue of Liberty. So for me, the twist was more that the planet he was on wasn't Earth. Which made the twist after they left the planet... not all that twisty. (And really made me second guess the seemingly heavy-handed foreshadowing that he had landed back on Earth, but whatever.)
Second, I hated the narrator. The book is written in a first person point of view and I would like to say that his personality suffers because of age (the book's age, that is, not mine or the narrator's. The book was written in the 60s, after all) but I thought he was an arrogant, misogynistic, egocentric louse. I mean, I don't support the Sean Connery school of dealing with women so automatically the narrator and I had a big difference of opinion.
I had had to resort to force to keep her quiet. After receiving a few thundering slaps across her beautiful face, she had eventually calmed down. (p71)Lovely, huh? And let's not get into all the time he spends talking about how beautiful Nova is even though he also goes on about how she is pretty much an unintelligent animal. Nova's entire value to the narrator is her attractiveness. Well, that and how easily he can scare her with a flashlight. It does make the fact that he had a child with her kind of icky, frankly. I mean, the narrator treated her pretty much like a pretty show dog and yet, he's okay with breeding with her. See, he's a stand up guy.
Thirdly, while I found the story pretty engaging, I started to disconnect at the end, mostly because of how the "big reveal" happened to expose the truth (that the animalistic humans had once ruled and had been overtaken by the intelligent apes due to laziness (no really, laziness)).
By a combination of physico-chemical processes, of which I shall spare you the details, this genius [scientist] has succeeded in awakening in [the test subject] not only her own individual memory but the memory of the species. Under electrical impulse her recollections go back to an extremely distant line of ancestors: atavistic memories reviving a past several thousands of years old. (p133)So basically, we learn what happened to the humans and apes on this planet because a scientist chimpanzee accessed the ancestral memory of one of the humans so she could tell them stories about what happened thousands of years ago. I've always thought that the genetic memory theory sounded like a bunch of bunk so yeah, I just couldn't suspend disbelief enough. And the humans were chased out of their homes by the gorillas, etc and just... took it? Set up evacuee camps and gave up because they were lazy. Maybe there's a cultural disconnect there (the author is French, I live in Texas) but all I could think was, "Uhm, no. They would be chased out of their homes, go and get their guns, then kill all the apes. Why did we not do that?" So these factors made the last bit of the book difficult for me to swallow.
Adding to the disconnect towards the end was that the narrator decided he was the second coming of Christ or some such narcissistic absurdity.
The good Lord does not shoot dice, as a certain physicist once said. Nothing happens by mere chance in the cosmos. My voyage to the world of Betelgeuse was decreed by a superior consciousness. It is up to me to show myself worthy of the choice and to be the new savior of this human race in decline. (p121)Of course, he runs away pretty quickly for a guy so determined that he is to be the new Christ.
I who believed myself entrusted with a semi-divine mission! (p142)
So yeah, I ended up eye-rolling a lot during the last fifteen minutes of the book. Which leaves me a bit torn. Why torn? I mean, a misogynist narrator with delusions of grandeur and a big reveal through genetic memory? There are plenty of reasons in that last sentence to emphatically not like this book. But honestly, until the last twenty or so pages, I was pretty into it. Sure, I couldn't stand the narrator, but I still looked forward to having the chance to read at night (since I was reading this before bed). So I didn't hate the book. And if there was really a series like I thought there was, I'd probably find myself reading the second book. (The book series out there is actually based on the movie franchise from the 60s and 70s, not this book.)
The book definitely isn't a great literary masterpiece (even discounting the dated misogynistic attitudes) but I don't know. I kind of liked it. I can't actually recommend anyone read it though, unless it's just to read a classic work. I can't say that I'll ever read this again but, even with all my complaining about it, I'm kind of pleased that I actually got around to reading it. Even if I would have been fine with the narrator being set on fire.