Book Review – “Planet of the Apes”

I’ve finally gotten around to reading Pierre
Boulle’s original novel, Planet Of The
. You know where to find the review.

General Information

Title: Planet Of The Apes
Author: Pierre Boulle
Original Publication Date: 1963

ISBN: 0-345-44798-0
Cover Price: $6.99 US, $9.99 Can

Movie Information: Two adaptations, one from 1968,
and another
from 2001
The first is the more accurate adaptation,
although there will still a
large number of changes.


Three astronauts land on a planet where apes rule
and humans are
animals devoid of conscious thought.

High Point

The double ending that hits with two big
“surprises” rather than the
one we saw in each of the movies.

Low Point

The degradation of one of the astronauts. I don’t
believe his
deterioration would be reversible without outside
help. (I suspect
that’s why the similar character was lobotomized
in the 1968 movie.)

The Scores

As far as originality goes, this seems
pretty fresh. Yes,
there have been a lot of stores based on this,
but the most similar
one I can think of that predates this is H. G.
Wells’ The Time
, and even there the similarities are
few. I may be
liberal with it simply because I don’t know what
else was out there in
1963, but I give it 5 out of 6.

The imagery was adequate. The writing
style was very much
the same sort of utilitarian style of Wells or
Verne, with things
being described by their function rather than a
detailed description
of their appearance. As a result, the overall
descriptions of the
action are very clear, but the details are up to
the reader’s
imagination. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story was well plotted, and with the
exception of the Low
Point and the scene with the “race memories,” not
unreasonable. The
idea of “race memories” is a common one that I
don’t quite buy, but
I’ll leave it alone. The Low Point is just too
hard to swallow. The
rest is actually handled very well, slowly
building up to the
introduction of the apes a few days after meeting
the humans, so that
the reader has had some clues as to which animals
are the sentient
ones before they arrive. It helps to bring the
reader along for the
ride mentally. After that, the society and
character actions are
very logical and easy to accept. I give it 5 out
of 6.

The characterization was a bit weak.
The personalities felt
like they were assigned to the race rather than
the individual, so
that the chimps all had the same personality,
which was different from
the personality that was assigned to all the
gorillas, etc. Even the
narrator was bland. I give it 2 out of 6.

The authour cripples the emotional
from the outset,
in my opinion. The story is being relayed
through the main
character’s journal, so we know right from the
outset that he escapes
safely with his wife and child in his spaceship.
(This isn’t even
implied; that’s how the journal starts.) For me,
this eliminated
almost all of the possible tension the story
would have otherwise had.
I give it 2 out of 6.

The editing was imperfect. On one hand,
the story is both
logical and coherent. On the other hand, the
second half of the books
is riddled with spelling mistakes and other
errors, as though they’d
only gotten half way through the proof-reading
when they decided they
needed to print it to cash in on the release of
last year’s movie. I
give it 3 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a decent book with a more
logical ending than
either movie. The material before the ending was
about on par in
style and events with the first film. I give it
4 out of 6.

In total, Planet of the Apes received 25
out of 42.