author: Greg Keyes
genre: Adventure, Fiction, Sci-fi
apes: Caesar, Koba, Maurice, Rocket, Cornelia
humans: Dreyfus, Clancy, Malakai, Phillips, Corbin, David, Talia
book summary: In 2011 Hollywood rebooted the once proud Planet of the Apes franchise and gave us Rise of the Planet of the Apes. This new story focused on the life of a brilliant ape named Caesar who grew up in a beautiful home only to be thrown in back into captivity. After feeling betrayed by humans he organized an uprising of all apes and over took the city of San Francisco. All Caesar and his fellow apes want is to be free, to live in the woods away from humans, and to be done as human test dummies to find the cure for Alzheimer’s. These mighty apes battled their way across the Golden Gate Bridge into the Muir Woods where they hoped to find a safe place to be and start their colony but a group of humans led by former police chief turned mayor Dreyfus has other plans.
The news of the ape escape has made headline news around the world along with a brand new virus dubbed the Simian Flu. The virus was thought to be released into the general public when the apes escaped but several other media reports have the source of the virus tied to other things. A reporter named David is a journalist who has been seeing a women named Clancy, Clancy gets a call to head downtown to join a special task force assigned to find and capture live apes in the woods. There she meets an African man named Malakai, who has had a long career of gorilla hunting. They are both under the direct supervision of officer Corbin and a guy named Phillips, these men were hired to come clean up the mess known as “Monkeygate.” Talia is a doctor who works at one of the city’s busiest hospitals, she handles multiple surgeries a shift and is very knowledgeable in certain areas of medicine. When patients begin to show up with symptoms such has a high temperature, fevers, and sneezing up blood, Talia tries to piece together this new virus and how to treat it.
Caesar and the surviving apes seek shelter in the tall redwood trees to heal, find food, and scout for humans. Caesar’s two right hand men Koba and Rocket break up the apes into small groups to hunt and scout. Within a day the apes spot the humans setting up a camp at the edge of the woods, driving Humvees and flying helicopter’s above the trees looking for them. Caesar did not plan for this kind of situation and has to act quickly to keep his troops safe while distracting the humans at every turn. Malakai is a wise hunter and when he tells Corbin and Phillips he knows exactly where the apes are, they turn out not to be there. Both Malakai and Clancy can not believe how intelligent these apes are and begin to question whether or not they have a human helper because there’s no way these domestic apes can be so clever and cunning.
Back in the city Talia is dealing with a hospital full of sick people, the death toll has just passed 1,000 and within the next two days the number is expected to climb past 100,000. Thanks to various news outlets across the globe there are reports coming in from all over that the virus is killing hundreds of thousands of people and estimates are that millions will be dead in a week thanks to this airborne virus. David hasn’t heard from Clancy in days so he sits at home watching his city fall into total anarchy with riots and looting as humans try their best to survive. He decides to do some investigation into the virus when he gets a secret email from Clancy. His research leads him a secretary who once worked for Gen-Sys (the facility that tested apes) and the notes that she kept in regards to a drug called ALZ-113. It was developed by Gen-Sys to overpower the human immune system to help fight the Alzheimer’s gene but it was never fully tested and it now appears to have ended lethal side effects. David gets his hands on these records and publishes a front page story despite being shot at several times for knowing and sharing the truth. Dreyfus reads his article and even though he’s been retired as police chief for a while he has been on the streets trying his best to calm the people and make himself look good for the upcoming mayoral race. He has tried his best to protect his family from the virus but his son insists on going down to a clinic to help his girlfriend treat the sick. Dreyfus meanwhile is courted around with his aide Patel to various parts of the city to help. When the mayor comes down with the flu his leadership position to transferred to Dreyfus’ best friend Daniel Ngyum, President of the Bay Area Society. Dreyfus had dreamed of running for mayor but when Daniel comes down with the flu, Dreyfus is instantly promoted to the mayor of San Francisco. It is now his mess to clean up and he’s willing to whatever it takes to stop the virus.
Koba meanwhile has been busy as one of Caesar’s hand-picked leaders. The apes are starving after their small food supply runs out and are becoming weaker by the hour. Many in the troop are still healing from the battle on the bridge while the strong continue to hunt and scout. Caesar is busy planning the diversions with Maurice and trying to understand the human’s plans of attack. Koba is on look out and reports back the humans are coming by the dozens from every direction, just as the apes are discussing their options helicopters begin to fly back and forth across the skyline looking for any signs of the apes. Caesar must act quickly to save his friends once again as the humans are closing in on them in circle formation and spraying tear gas from the skies. Caesar dispatches Koba and a few apes on a suicide mission to distract the human leaders allowing them more time to escape safely.
San Francisco lay in chaos, Talia and everyone at the hospital have come down the virus that has now killed several hundred thousand people. Dreyfus can only watch as his once proud city destroys itself in an attempt to overcome the virus. Clancy and Malakai have been trying their best to capture an ape to study in attempt to find a cure. When they come face to face with Koba and his men they realize the apes are only fighting for their freedom and not to harm humans. Things heat up when Clancy and Malakai decide to turn the tide on Corbin and Phillips who really want to wipe out the apes out and have been playing them all along. By the time the old fashion Mexican stand-off ends it may be too late for everyone in the woods because Corbin has ordered an air strike that is intended to wipe out the whole side of the mountain where Caesar and the apes are hiding.
(There are no pictures in this book but I felt this one fit the storyline and brings some flare to my review)
my thoughts: The very first thing I need to get off my chest is this book is promoted as “The Official Movie Prequel” to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which is set 10 years after Rise of the Planet of the Apes. When I researched this book and then bought it on Monday I was actually expecting the story to drag out and cover the majority of that ten-year gap between movies but sadly it didn’t. I’d say that Firestorm only carries us through three to four weeks from the moment Caesar and the apes leave Will in the forest up until the virus starts to wipe out millions. This book is a great idea that was well written, provided major character back stories, as well as explain how the world first reacted to the virus outbreak. I wish it had covered more years but understand it’s hard to cover ten years in one 300 page book.
The best parts of this story is how Caesar, Maurice, Koba, and Rocket do their best (in their weaken state) to make sure all apes are protected and fed. They sign to each other every detail of their plans to out run the humans and to find shelter to start building their own homes. Koba has a major part in the Dawn of the Planet of Apes movie and this Firestorm novel tells his complete life story from how he became disfigured, lost his mother, and all the suffering he went through. I know have a better understanding of why he acted out the way he did based on his past experiences with humans and apes. His life and struggles is really sad which makes me almost feel bad for him, but then I remember what he does to Caesar in the film and I don’t care how bad his life was, he’s a couple of swear words I can’t put in text who deserves what he gets.
There are several sub stories in this book and the other one I found extremely interesting was that of Dreyfus, who was played by Gary Oldman in the film. As the “leader” of the new human colony seeking means to survive we get the impression he has a dictator mentality and is willing to use any means necessary to protect humans. We see him cry at a picture of his family, one that was obviously lost due to the virus, which Firestorm gives us a glimpse of. He was once the leader of the city;s police force and inspired to be more before the world collapses all around him. Dreyfus may have a smaller role in the film but in this book he is a major player who joins the story half way through and is the one who makes the all important final decision to end the apes once and for all. I personally didn’t like his character in the film and his attempt to be a hero during trouble times really didn’t change my opinion of him.
While this story cuts back and forth between the ape and human world, the struggles of both species just days after the outbreak to survive is very well documented. I thought this book was very well written and presented in a way that I couldn’t put it down, this is first book I’ve read cover to cover this year and I did it in six hours. I kept reading and reading because I really wanted to know what was going to happen to the apes! I knew some if not most of them would survive but how? The human aspects of the story didn’t really draw me in because I know I would have probably been one of the first humans to die so I wouldn’t have been in a panic like everyone else. In a world where we expect answers and solutions at the snap of our fingers it was extremely tough for those sick and soon to be sick to deal with the chaos that surrounded them.
my final thoughts: Since watching the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes on opening night I have become really intrigued with their world. I want to believe Caesar is real and that I could consider him to be one of my heroes for his ability to be such an extraordinary leader. I bought Firestorm because I wanted to know more about Caesar and the apes and was not disappointed. It was fast read that was jammed pack with action and useful back stories that the movies never fully get into.
my star rating: 9 out 10