Remarkably Bright Creatures Book Review
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Published 2022; 355 pages
I didn't realize it until I'd finished the book, but this is a debut novel. I can't wait for the next effort, whatever it is! As often happens when I request a book or pick something from my Kindle, it's been such a long time, I don't really remember what it's supposed to be about. I find that works for me - I read a few reviews, take some fellow blogger recommends, and then add it to my list. When I get around to reading it, I usually enter the story blind, no expectations.
First Sentence: "Darkness suits me. I await the click of the overhead lights, leaving only the glow from the main tank. Not perfect, but close enough."
I didn't even remember this had a sentient octopus in it! BUT, imagine my pleasure when in the first chapter the octopus, Marcellus, is talking to me! Amazing.
"Humans. For the most part, you are dull and blundering. But occasionally, you can be remarkably bright creatures."
Ain't that the truth! Marcellus has been in captivity since he was a juvenile and has much opportunity to observe human interactions and make some insightful deductions. Tova, is a widow in her 70's who works nights at the aquarium to keep busy. She has lost her only son, her husband, and most recently, her brother. She and Marcellus make a magical connection. She is going through some soul searching times as she tries to figure out what's next for her at her age.
Enter Cameron. We meet Cameron early in the story, and I wasn't sure why or what he had to do with anything. He's a 30-something feckless young man, at odds with himself and the world. He decides he wants to try to find his unknown dad so heads to a small town in Washington and finds himself working at the aquarium. Gradually Cameron and Tova form a friendship as she helps him settle into himself a bit. Then Marcellus works another little bit of magic.
This absorbing story is heartwarming, engaging, very readable. The characters are totally believable and unforgettable. The themes in the story are subtle and yet hiding in plain sight: loss, grief, trying to find "home" and what that means, aging, family, as well as thought provoking about animals in captivity. Have I used enough positive, descriptive words to entice you to read this story yet? If it's already on your radar, move it closer to the top of your list! It's a story I loved, simply told, but one that'll stick with me for a long time. Highly recommended.