"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm" Book Review
Written by Greg Keyes
2014, 297 pages, Fiction
Book released on May 27th, 2014
A prequel to the upcoming film installment in the Planet of the Apes franchise, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm takes place after the events in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but before those in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Often boasted as "a necessity for fans of the films," Firestorm is a piece of easily consumeable 'outbreak' fiction that one could finish in a few hours, but it does not provide much more depth other than what is on the surface.
The book revolves around the lives of several different characters during an epidemic of the "Simian Flu," and a simultaneous escape of hundreds of apes, gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees, who travel to the Muir Woods after an awe-worthy battle on the Golden Gate Bridge. The flu is a violent, Ebola-esque attack on the human system which begins with traces of blood after sneezing and ends with a painful death after days or hours, depending on the victim. Some of the characters include a journalist named David Flynn, with the brushstroke quirk that he always gets up at 4 AM, no matter how hard he tries not to; Malakai and Clancy, two ape experts who are given the task of coralling as many of the escaped animals as possible alongside a government establishment with peculiar morals; Talia, a tirelessly working medical professional who is in over her head with the amount of people who are coming into her hospital with the fatal Simian illness; Dreyfus, a chief of police who has stepped down and begun his campaign to become mayor; Caesar, an evolved chimpanzee who is leading his following of apes who have been abused by humans and want to take refuge away from their clutches; and Wil Rodman, a scientist who has an important hand in the lives of the evolved apes in the story.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm is very easy to read because of its simple syntax and lack of density that might make the characters more relatable of emotionally provoking. Although while reading the stories of cruelty inflicted onto the stoic bonobo, Koba, I was saddened and uncomfortable, there is not much else to grasp onto as a reader. The characters all fit into the two-dimensional archetypes of people who would be in the limelight during this genre of fiction; the doctor, the journalist, the politician, the scientist, the military and the opposing, and this use of cliches makes them all somewhat forgettable. The book is entertaining and fast paced otherwise, effectively bouncing back and forth between the lives of the several characters during a turbulent time. It is because there is less focus on character depth that the events taking place are paramount, such as how a cheesy action movie or a shallow romantic comedy would play out. Although most of the novel does veer towards clichés, it is a fun piece of brain bubble-gum to chew on between your Dostoyevsky's or your Hemmingway's.