Half Brother by Kenneth OppelHalf Brother by Kenneth Oppel

Half Brother

byKenneth Oppel

Hardcover | August 24, 2010

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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 behavioural 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.

The chimp, named 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. 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 attention 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 he knows and everyone he loves in order to save his baby brother.

KENNETH OPPEL is the Governor General’s Award–winning author ofAirbornand the Silverwing series, which has sold over a million copies worldwide. Kenneth Oppel lives in Toronto with his wife and their three children. Visit his website atwww.kennethoppel.com.
Title:Half BrotherFormat:HardcoverDimensions:384 pages, 9.41 × 7.24 × 2.29 inPublished:August 24, 2010Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1554688124

ISBN - 13:9781554688128

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Cute book! ok I got this for my birthday a few months ago and OMG I loved it! it mad me happy and sad and mad and...... it gave me the feels man.
Date published: 2014-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Fantastic! Reason for Reading: Oppel is my favourite YA author and I read every new book he publishes. This book is something completely different from Oppel's usual fare and I must admit I was a little leery going in, hoping this wasn't going to end up being a platform for animal rights. I need not have worried; Oppel is an accomplished writer and a reader can be confident that he is going to produce a well-crafted novel that will keep one glued to one's seat. I read this book in one sitting, I was that taken with it. It's a far cry from my usual reading fare as well and I found it fascinating. Ben's father is a scientist and his mother also, though she is still writing her PhD dissertation. The father has a Project where he is to bring a baby chimp into the household and along with a staff of his students raise the chimp as a human, all the while seeing if they can teach the chimp, Zan, to learn American Sign Language and fully communicate with them. At first Ben's not so crazy about Zan, after all they had to move from Toronto to B.C. for his father to work at this new University, but it doesn't take long until Ben and Zan are bosom buddies and more than that, brothers in a real sense. But the Project isn't proceeding fast enough, they are denied the big grant they expected, the University wants more results and soon Ben is fighting for Zan's place in their family and he must risk it all to save Zan from a future worse than death. An incredibly intriguing story. The characters themselves add such tension to the story, the family dynamics shape the conflicts. The dad is stoically scientific, even towards his own son, emotions are not one of his good points, though we pick up clues as to what shaped this man. The mother, though also scientific, is naturally maternal, has a great relationship with her son, and her maternalism flows over to baby Zan. Ben, is thirteen when the story starts and has a whole other side story going on about school, friends and girls (especially). This is also a coming-of-age story for him and there is one particularly interesting thing about his and Zan's development. Zan obviously becomes humanized, mimics the humans and considers himself human but we also see in some ways that Zan's natural chimp behaviour is brushing off on Ben, who has been reading a lot about chimps since Zan's arrival. While Ben plays Alpha-male at school to win friends, popularity and girls, it isn't until an instant when he becomes furiously angry with his father that we see Ben turn chimp. This story is full of humorous escapades created by Zan and others' reactions to him. But this is also a serious story that deals with the ethical treatment of animals. Right from the beginning of the book there are a couple of hints that the story is not taking place in the here and now and eventually we learn that Zan's story is taking place some 30 years in the past. This opens up a world of science that did not have the same ethics as we do today when it comes to using animals in experiments. Oppel does not go all "activist" on us but instead introduces the reader to various practices going on at the time and the scientific reasoning behind the ethics of such experimentation. Then he shows the various types and forms of protest to this treatment and with that goes further to say it was not all in the name of science (make-up testing for example). A well-written, gripping, thought-provoking story, possibly Oppel's greatest book to date. This story may well have some of it's targeted readers looking into animal related careers where they will have a voice in ensuring the ongoing ethical treatment of animals. Myself, after reading this, I feel like sitting down and watching the movie "Gorillas in the Mist" again.
Date published: 2010-10-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great insight I have enjoyed the 13 books by Kenneth Oppel that I read before reading this one. But I approached the premise of this one with a bit of hesitation; I should have known better. With each book of Oppel's that I read, I become more and more impressed with his skill, talent and range of creativity. Ben Tomlin is an average teenager; he struggles with some anger issues, but his parents uproot him from his home in Toronto and move him to Victoria so his father can start a new experiment. The experiment was a little different. They were going to raise a chimpanzee as if he were part of the family. Soon Ben has a younger brother named Zan. They are going to raise him as if he is human and teach him American Sign Language. Zan is learning at an amazing speed - he is averaging two new signs a week and soon he is combining them by himself. Helping with project Zan gives Ben an idea and he starts project Jennifer. Jennifer is the girl of his dreams and he will do whatever research he needs to win her over. Soon everything starts falling in place. Things are going well with Jennifer, project Zan is getting a lot of press. But then things take a turn for the worse; Zan gets some bad press and Ben's dad seems to be giving up on the project. Soon Ben feels like Zan is really his little brother and cannot imagine his life without him. But in science, if a project does not go well, it is sometimes terminated. Ben is now willing to risk everything for Zan whom he once resented. Told from Ben's perspective, the story is believable and incredibly addictive. I stayed up really late reading it when I should have gone to bed early. I just could not put it down. Oppel has written a story about adoption, family, relationships and coming of age. It is an amazing book.
Date published: 2010-09-25

Editorial Reviews

??what sets this novel apart from other compelling stories, and Oppel's other works, is the fresh perspective it has on the themes of humanity, family, and choice. Highly Recommended.?
- CM Magazine ()