“Concrete can rot. It turns green and black before crumbling away.”
—Opening line from Endangered When Sophie, the main character of Endangered, goes to visit her mom’s bonobo sanctuary, she knows it will mean descending from the USA into the muggy and dangerous land of the Congo. But then she discovers a baby bonobo (a type of ape native to the Congo) being sold by a man on the side of the road. Selling bonobos is illegal, and is what her mom is trying to prevent by creating the bonobo sanctuary. Sophie decides to buy the bonobo because it’s so sick, it slowly gets better, and she names it Otto. When Sophie’s mom leaves to release adult bonobos into the wild, a civil war begins in the capital Kinshasa, only about 10 miles from the bonobo sanctuary. Sophie hides in the bonobo enclosure to escape the rebel groups, or kata-kata who attacked the sanctuary. The enclosure is surrounded by electric fence, so she is safe. She and Otto live with the other bonobos— until something happens that forces them to leave the enclosure.
This book is well-written, except for a few editing mistakes. For example, in one scene it was raining, but Sophie could still see the stars. It is well-researched, and makes you want to learn more about bonobos and the Congo. I liked how this book shows how similar bonobos are to humans. Bonobos have complex social structures, they share food, and maybe even have a language. It also has many violent scenes depicting the war, so it is only suitable for young adult and adult readers. The ending is surprising and wraps up the story nicely. I would recommend this book to young adult and adult readers who are interested in realistic fiction books about animals. This book is thought-provoking, but is still full of action.