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Endangered Hardcover – October 1, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 110 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up-Fourteen-year-old Sophie rescues Otto, a young chimp, while spending the summer at her mother's bonobo sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of Congo. When the president is assassinated and war breaks out, Sophie has a chance to return home to the United States but cannot bear to leave Otto. Their journey to safety takes them into the bonobo enclosure, but the real danger begins when they venture out and risk encountering rebel soldiers. Schrefer excels at imbuing the bonobos with individual personalities and endearing quirks. The bond between Sophie and Otto is so expertly depicted that it almost seems like a parent/child relationship, and readers will readily relate to the anguish the girl feels as she debates leaving her pet behind. The novel tackles tough ethical dilemmas without offering easy answers and delves into racial politics (Sophie's mixed racial heritage influences how others treat her), giving the book a nuanced tone. Schrefer portrays painful scenes in unflinching detail, and his powerful use of language drives the story forward. However, Sophie often seems preternaturally skilled for a teenager who has spent limited time in the Congo. Several moments stretch plausibility, such as when she rescues Otto from a group of soldiers or when she becomes leader of the bonobo tribe. Additionally, because Sophie is recounting the story as an adult looking back, her voice is often far more mature and polished than most adolescent protagonists. Yet despite the flaws, this is a poignant and moving story.-Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journalα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

After 14-year-old Sophie leaves her home in Florida, where she lives with her father, to visit her mother’s bonobo sanctuary in Congo, she rescues a young bonobo from its captor. Sophie names her new friend Otto and the two bond, but after civil war breaks out, Sophie and the young ape must flee from the sanctuary and attempt to survive in the jungle against overwhelming odds. With cruel revolutionaries everywhere, Sophie’s life is constantly in danger. The story veers perhaps into improbability when Sophie, unwilling to abandon Otto, rejects two offers to leave the country. Still, Schrefer creates a vividly realized setting and a harrowing portrait of the chaos of a country at war. Best, though, is Schrefer’s portrayal of the extraordinary bond between Sophie and Otto, and the close, awe-inspiring look at bonobos in general. Nature-loving teens will be captivated. Grades 8-12. --Michael Cart
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 900L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; First Edition edition (October 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545165768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545165761
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #447,911 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In the interests of full disclosure, I know Eliot a little bit personally and we publish our books with the same publisher. That said, I know a bunch of writers personally and this is the first time I've ever actually gone to Amazon and reviewed any of their books. I'm doing it this time simply because this is an awesome book that I really think everyone needs to read.

Thrillers are everywhere at the moment (They're the new vampires. Oh, wait, maybe the new angels? The new mermaids? Whatever) but it's incredibly rare that you find a thriller that's about alot more than just running and dodging and gunfire. Endangered is exciting and compulsively readable, sure, but it also grounds you in the terrifyingly real world of the Congo and deals with real issues and real people in a way that's smart and compassionate while still being tough minded. Sophie's journey to escape the violence around her while protecting her bonobo charge is certainly exciting but more than that it charts her evolution from an inexperienced and naive girl to a responsible and courageous (and very clever) young woman.

Hope you all go grab yourself a copy. I'm sure you'll be glad you did.
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Format: Hardcover
With great humanity, pitch-perfect story-telling, and unsentimental clarity, Endangered tells the story of a girl and an ape in one of the worst wars the modern world has known. As in the Congo itself, there is violence and cruelty, but there is also laughter and hope. Sometimes it takes an animal to help us find our humanity, and sometimes it takes Eliot Schrefer to tell that story beautifully.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I really loved this book: the author writes wonderfully, and his portrayal of Sophie, who matures slowly and progressively through the telling of her story, was terrific. Most endearing was the increasingly tight bond she formed with Otto, an infant bonobo she rescued very early in the book. As their relationship grew, so did Sophie's maturity. Given that the intended audience for Endangered is YA, Mr. Schrefer did an excellent job of telling a what would otherwise be a complex story without sacrificing too much in the way of drama.
I've traveled all over Africa, and while I've never been to Kinshasa, I have spent time in the troubled east, in and around Lake Kivu. The author wrote of a Congo I recognized, a complex and sometimes horrible (and yet beautiful place). Rare is a work of fiction about Africa that gets 'it' right, but this was just such a book.
I read a few other reviews that commented on how Sophie's survival was unbelievable and that Schrefer should have placed his story in one of the all two real conflicts that the Congo has faced since 1994. I think these reviews miss the point. The real likelihood is that had this story taken place in the 'real' Congo of, say, the second Congo War of 1998, Sophie would have been dead the first week. Sometimes, to tell a great story, realism is sacrificed... that's why novels are called fiction. In any case, Endangered, rose above itself: not merely a coming of age story about a young girl, it was also a story about a nation too many of us know little about. It was a deserving finalist for the National Book Award, and would have made a worthy winner.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Endangered is not just a gripping thriller; it's also beautifully, thoughtfully written. Eliot Schrefer's descriptions of bonobos are fascinating and heartwarming, and he's created a protagonist with far more complexity and nuance that your average young adult novel heroine. As an adult, I thoroughly enjoyed Endangered, but the pace barrels forward in way that I'm sure would appeal to teens as well. This is that rare YA book that you will savor as both a satisfying work of literature and a window into an often-forgotten part of the world. Who needs mermaids when you've got much more magical creatures in the real world--bonobos!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Endangered is a marvelous book for teens, but it is a book adults should read as well. It deals with the plight of endangered bonobos, but not in a didactic way. Rather, the reader experiences along with Sophie, the young protagonist, the perilous political situation in the Congo and is led to see through Sophie's eyes all the complexities that make saving the bonobos difficult. In her attachment to Otto, the bonobo infant she rescues and assumes responsibility for, we see why saving the bonobos is so important. Her harrowing trek through the jungle with Otto and the constant threats they endure make the book impossible to put down. The perils Sophie and Otto face reveal in microcosm the precarious state in which the people of the Congo exist.
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Format: Hardcover
Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (2012)

If you follow the book award season, you've probably already heard about this National Book Award Finalist from 2012.

Either way Endangered is an Important book about the political unrest in the Congo and the horrible state of affairs for Bonobo monkeys in the area. Sophie spends every summer with her mother in the Congo and expects this year to be much of the same. Until she becomes the reluctant (and unlikely) foster mother to a baby Bonobo she names Otto. Then war breaks out and Sophie is isolated and trapped with the Bonobos at her mother's conservation preserve.

Schrefer went to the Congo to research this book and it shows in the details and nuances of the setting and Sophie's relationship with Otto and the other Bonobos. The story is gripping and exciting. Because of the emphasis on action and survival, this is a great book for any reader. Endangered would also be a particularly strong choice for reluctant readers and/or readers who are hesitant to read books with a female narrator.

Reading Endangered it is immediately obvious why this book was a National Book Award finalist. As the story progresses it is also apparent why this book did not ultimately win. While Sophie and Otto are great characters in a page-turning story, Sophie's voice was not always convincing. Sophie is fourteen during the events of the story. While her narration is insightful and contemplative, it also often sounds like a much older character. The epilogue is also frustrating. Without getting into spoilers it felt very incongruous to have an epilogue years later and have one of the supposed key things about Sophie's life be that she is engaged and has dated several boys. There were so many other things to say, other details to share. After a totally empowering, dramatic read the epilogue brought Endangered to a close on a slightly sour note.

*This book was acquired for review from the publisher at BEA 2012*
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