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Friday, August 10, 2018

#Book #Review: 4 out of 5 stars for Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel @kennethoppel @HarperCollinsCa

TITLE: Half Brother
AUTHOR: Kenneth Oppel
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins
FORMAT: Paperback
LENGTH: 377 pages
GENRE: Young Adult
ISBN: 9781554686117
When Ben Tomlin’s mother brings home his new “baby brother,” an eight-day-old chimpanzee, Ben is far from thrilled. His father, a renowned behavioral scientist, has uprooted the family and moved them halfway across the country, to Victoria, B.C., so he can pursue a high-profile experiment— to determine whether chimpanzees can learn human sign language.

Zan must be raised exactly like a human. He’s dressed in clothes and fed in a high chair and has a room full of toys and books. Ben is soon smitten. Joining the team of students who are helping with the experiment, Ben becomes both researcher and adored older brother.

Within months, Zan learns his first signs and becomes a media sensation. At his new school, Ben’s life seems similarly charmed as he vies for the attentions of the beautiful Jennifer— using his newly acquired scientific observational skills.

But when Project Zan unexpectedly loses its funding, Ben’s father is under huge pressure to either make the experiment succeed or abandon it—and Zan. Unable to convince his father that Zan is now part of the family, Ben must risk everything to save his baby brother from an unimaginable fate.


I've wanted to read this Canadian author for a long time, and he didn't disappoint me! I am an animal lover, so this one tugged on my heartstrings.

Richard Tomlin is a behavioural scientist and moves his family from Toronto to Victoria so that he can head up a special research project. He is going to study a chimpanzee and see if it can learn sign language and communicate with humans. He tells his 13-year-old son, Ben, that they are going to raise a chimpanzee and treat him like a human. Ben's mother, Sarah, is writing her thesis on cross-fostering which is when you raise one species as different than itself so this experiment is for her benefit as well. At first, Ben is less than enthusiastic about the whole idea. His whole world has changed -- different friends, different school, different home -- and he resents his dad for it. He feels that his dad always gets what he wants and that he's selfish. You would expect that he'd also be a bit resentful to the chimp, Zan, but Ben very quickly took to him and treated him like his little brother which is exactly what his parents wanted him to do. However, Richard is another story! He was never a hands-on parent, and he is even more distant with Zan. He leaves all the bonding to Ben, Sarah, and the hired students and even depends on them to record their observations. 

When Richard's funding is cut, Zan outgrows his usefulness and Richard wants to sell him off to another research lab where Zan would be subjected to animal testing so that he can get some money out of it. Hey, it's all about the money!!

I didn't like Richard. I thought that he was a hypocrite because he expected Ben to treat Zan like family for the sake of the project, and in the same breath he told him not to avoid getting emotionally attached to Zan because he's basically just a lab rat! Argh, he infuriated me!! I hated how he treated Zan.

I love how Ben was portrayed and the extent to which he loved Zan and protected him. Family is more than blood, and more than human for that matter! Many cat and dog-lovers treat their furkids like their own children, myself included! Most people would do anything for their furry friends.

Memorable quote:

"I wasn't good at a lot of things, like controlling my temper. But I was good at loving Zan."

I really enjoyed my first book by Oppel, and I'm looking forward to reading more of his work. 


4 stars!! I really enjoyed it, and you should put it on your TBR if you enjoy contemporary YA fiction.

This book qualifies as:


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