Book Review: War for the Planet of the Apes – Revelations

author: Greg Keyes
published: 2017
pages: 333
genre: Adventure, Fiction, Sci-fi
main characters:
      apes: Caesar, Koba, Maurice, Rocket, Luca, Cornelia, Blue Eyes, Cornelius, Red, Grey, Ray, Koba, Fox, Stripe, Winter,
      humans: McCullough, Malcolm, John, Forest, Geary, General Prescott, Feliz, Carla, Jake, Armand, Edwards,

book summary: Everyone remembers how Dawn of the Planet of the Apes ended right? Koba was dead, the humans were set free, Dreyfus had called for help, and the military from the north was on its way to San Francisco. Caesar had done everything in his power to prevent war, but war was coming whether he was prepared or not. The stories in this prequel novel, Revelations, take us down many different roads as we prepare to witness the epic finale, War for the Planet of the Apes.

This story picks up right after Koba dies and Caesar’s power as head of the tribe is restored. Amazingly, in just a short time, the Colonel and his men are already creeping into the San Francisco bay, where they approach the city with a few hundred soldiers on a naval vessel and on the beaches. The opening shots of the war ring out as Caesar is regrouping the apes on the Golden Gate Bridge, with the help of Malcolm. Soldiers have started to invade the base of the bridge, while the Colonel fires some heavy artillery from the ship in attempt to kill as many apes as possible and box them in, blocking their escape to the woods.

Several apes, including Koba loyalists Grey and Red, are sent out to scout for human soldiers, but spent most of their time talking about their fallen leader and how they wish they could avenge his death. Despite the oncoming assault on their species, a handful of apes were still upset that Koba was dead. These renegades lose focus of their current objective, which is defeat the humans, to waste time thinking of ways to kill Caesar. Little do we know they are in for some pretty harsh surprises later on. 

When the fighting begins, Malcolm is forced to leave the city by Caesar, who then forces his son Blue Eyes to go with him. Rocket is put in charge of the exodus, as the ape’ mission is to go down the coast and to see if anymore humans are alive and/or more soldiers are coming. Another ape named Ray joins the group, while we get introduced to Lake as Blue Eyes says good-bye to his family. At the start of their journey, they pass by several zoos and quarantined areas that bring back terrible memories for everyone. This group of peaceful humans and apes end up being followed, which causes them to tread lightly further away from the ammo and protection of Caesar.

Meanwhile back in the city, the soldiers slowly invaded the streets and look for apes in buildings and rooftops. Occasional gun fire breaks out and several soldiers get wounded. The Colonel’s son, John, is on the mission and always reports back all the craziness that happens in the city. Walking apes, let alone apes with guns, is very memorizing to the human soldiers. No matter what happens on the streets or how many people are sacrificed, the Colonel’s thirst for blood is over whelming, that he tells his men to press on no matter what. When the scenes are not focused on the soldiers in the trenches, the book does go into some pretty good details about the Colonel’s past, his strategies, and his struggles to stay in power. 

Rocket, Blue Eyes, and Ray finally break apart from Malcolm and follow the coast south. Together they struggle to deal with the psychological effects of the events they experiences in the city, while Ray spends a lot of time dreaming about apes and the future. Dreaming seems to be very confusing for young apes, who don’t fully comprehend the world they currently live in. Things go from bad to worse when the apes are ambushed by humans and Ray is taken hostage. He is taken to a human village where he is locked up and abused. Apes learn the hard way that human behavior towards them hasn’t changed much in a decade. Blue Eyes and Rocket search everywhere for him, until they run into Fox and Stripe, two of Koba’s loyal followers who were on the hunt to kill Caesar’s son. Fox starts a gun fight only to get kidnapped and held hostage along with Ray. Ray meanwhile has made friends with a little girl name Feliz, who he hopes that she will help him escape eventually. Humans begin to interrogate the captured apes, using some pretty harsh tactics, to learn more about the situation up in the city and how much apes really know.

Caesar stands his ground on the Golden Gate Bridge, where he continuously gets updates on the human camp being built on the shore. The Colonel launches an attack on the skyscraper where the apes housed the women and children. Caesar was left no choice but to abandon this post and move everyone back to the woods. After fighting off the soldiers who have barricaded the bridge, the ape families get back to the woods, only to have the gorilla guard (filled with Koba followers) turn on them. Caesar stays back to defend the high ground, which allows for Cornelia and the children to become hostages of Grey and Red. The two traitors strike fear into the hearts of the young by telling them Caesar is dead on the bridge. Red tries his best to kill Cornelia, but she manages to escape and hide in a cave. Red lays claim to the status of alpha male now, while vowing war on the humans.

Feliz teams up with an older guy named Armand who rescue Ray and Fox. Together they make a run to the ocean and steal a small fishing boat to follow the other humans up the coast to San Francisco. As these apes make their way home, Caesar organizes an all out assault on the human compound and the naval ship. Cornelia returns from hiding to help the other females apes and challenges Red for superiority, before resuming her rightful command as Queen of the apes. Of course blood gets shed and several apes die, but balance appears to be restored to the ape community. After the massive blood bath on the beaches that leaves many things on fire, Caesar and the warriors return to their families in the woods, realizing this is only the beginning of greater tragedies to come.

Ray, who trusted by Caesar, held hostage by humans for a time being, is the first ape to realize his place isn’t amongst the tribe and offers up information to the Colonel as the book comes to an end.

(There are no pictures in this book but I felt this one fit the story line and brings some flare to my review)

my thoughts: I literally finished Revelations at seven in the morning, less than 12 hours before the marathon started that would bring this epic trilogy to a close. Like anyone who picks up this book, I actually thought this would be a prequel and take us right to the beginning of War. Sadly this book didn’t answer all the questions I had about life after Dawn, nor did it really tie in nicely with the events of the final movie.

Revelations is just someone’s perspective of events that we will never know about, with characters we would never meet in the movies. That was probably the biggest thing that drove me crazy. Why introduce us to a whole new story line, with characters we know and love, if it never actually goes along with everything else we’ve come to know. Firestorm worked as a prequel for Dawn because it was about apes settling down in the woods after their escape and the virus spreading across the city/globe. Revelations really just sets us up to know that the soldiers have arrived, they are building a fort on the shoreline to the attack, and fighting with massive naval vessels. There is some back story to the Colonel and some of his men, but it never goes deep enough to get us heavily invested in them as people or as important characters in the ape world. These events are never mentioned in the film, which makes me wonder what kind of war stories we could have had.

If you watched the trailer for War, you were introduced to Nova. She is a little girl who ends up being adopted by the apes because her family is dead. Feliz is a human girl that helps the apes in Revelations and is with them at the end of the book. Without any knowledge of what was to come, my mind had me believing that Feliz was gonna be Nova. I ended up being completely wrong in the end, but this raised even more questions. What happened to Feliz and the other humans from her village? If War is to make me believe that the rest of the humans are gone, where are these people from the book? The majority of the human characters die from the virus from the previous book, so if War ends with the apes ruling the planet…where are these people? This situation also makes me wonder if there was truly no mean of communication? Why wouldn’t the soldiers realized that humans helped the apes and looked for them to join the army?

After taking us on some crazy adventures with Blue Eyes and Rocket, the book kinda just ends their journey without much excitement. There is no real talk about apes looking for a new home, so it makes me wonder where that idea came from in the movie. These two are the apes Caesar enlists to go on a journey east of the city to find a new home, but does he forget what these two experienced on this trip?? What is also contradicting is Caesar does everything he can to defend the city and the bridge, before retreating back to the woods to protect the families. He had two years from when the fighting began to the first events of the movie to leave the woods (probably) undetected, I just got the feeling from this book that was never really the plan. From this particular chapter of the saga, I think they had hoped to stay in the woods and eventually live in peace.

Overall, I thought this was a fun read that gave me some adventures I wasn’t expecting, while laying down some crumbs for the future events of war. If anyone is a big fan of the Planet of the Apes they know that there are many books written about adventures (post movies) that really dive deep into ape history and their psychology. If it was up to me, they should have refrained from calling this a prequel and rather defined it as a standalone version of events between movies. Maybe I expected more and hence why I feel a little bit down, or maybe I wasn’t looking at the bigger picture.

my star rating: 7 out 10

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