Books: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - Firestorm

As we continue to expand the scope of The Movie Sleuth, we give you our first movie related book review, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm.

Firestorm was commissioned by 20th Century Fox to bridge together the films Rise and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Author Greg Keys fills the 10 year time gap between the films with a chaotic storyline that ping pongs between characters old and new. While advertised as a prequel to Dawn, Firestorm reads as a continuation of the film Rise, beginning only days after the movie’s ending.

The story begins with Caesar and the apes on the run. Freedom is a learning process for many of the apes as they adjust to a world outside the cage. Its a dramatic change from a life spent in captivity as the apes adapt to their new surroundings in the Redwood Forest. The fast paced story line reintroduces many of the key characters from the films. A great advantage to Key’s storytelling is the ability to get into the apes heads. Since communication between the apes in the films is often limited, Firestorm gives the reader a very ape-centric point of view.

Meanwhile in San Francisco a highly contagious virus has the city crippled with fear. Keys approach to this storyline offers an intimate look at a realistic epidemic. Our own history (and recent news) has documented dozens of deadly viruses that have wreaked havoc on the population. Reading about such a virus in its quiet beginning, even fictionalized, is fascinating in a horrific sort of way.

By far the most intriguing storyline of Firestorm is the origin of the ape Koba. It is told in sporadic flashbacks that span the entire novel. Its a sad tale that is brutally honest, and an eye opener to the world of animal testing. Told in this context, this companion novel successfully sets up Koba’s character for the Dawn of the Apes film.

If you’re a fan of this rebooted franchise, Firestorm will no doubt be an enjoyable read. Keys does a commendable job tying the existing films together, and his character development gives a deeper understanding to the storylines that carry on into the film Dawn of the Apes. Above all, Firestorm reinforces the film’s core value  - “Apes Together Strong.”

Greg Keys previous works include Star Wars: The New Jedi Order Trilogy, and companion novels for the video game series The Elder Scrolls.

-Lee Lind