Rating: ☆☆☆☆ ½ (4 ½ stars)


                                                                                    September 18, 2015

When I picked up this book in Grade 8 (I was new to Oppel’s work at that time), I told myself it was going to be one of those boring books that no one ever hears about. I was proven wrong. By the time I finished the book, I had not only been deeply moved, but I had also learned a thing or two about empathy and life.

Half Brother is a book that is bound to touch your heart by the time you’re done. It is a great book written by a great author, Kenneth Oppel. Teaching kindness, compassion, and friendship, this book is about treating everyone the same. With its life lessons and captivating plot, this book is impossible to put down.

The book follows the story of a boy named Ben. His father, a scientist, researches the communication between animals and humans. For an experiment, Ben’s mother takes away a newborn chimpanzee baby from its mother so Ben’s father can try to raise it like a human and teach it sign language. Over the course of the story, Ben and Zan, Ben’s adopted chimpanzee ‘brother’, grow closer in their relationship; the two become great friends, and they seem to share their thoughts and understand each other’s feelings. When Zan has to be sent away to a lab because the experiment is failing, however, Ben is forced to make a crucial decision: do as he is told or fight for his brother.

A realistic-fiction story, the book has a complex yet cohesive plot. It finds the perfect balance between the traits of real life and an imaginary world. With well-researched facts and an extremely powerful story, it sends a clear message about compassion and empathy to the reader. As you get deeper into the story, you get closer to the characters as well. Oppel’s story is beautifully crafted to make the reader hooked on the story and attached to the characters. It also shows both the good and the bad sides of all the characters. The book is so brilliant and compelling that, in some sense, it makes the reader a part of the story itself.

I personally loved the book. If you’re looking for a story to read, or if you just want to think a little about life, I strongly suggest making Half Brother your next read.