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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Marcellus the octopus is the very deserving star of the show here, and being able to predict much of where the story was headed didn't affect my enjoyment of this big-hearted tale.

Shelby Van Pelt's Remarkably Bright Creatures centers around a widow who makes an unlikely friend.

After Tova Sullivan's husband died, she began working the night shift at her local aquarium as a custodian. She's always felt that keeping busy helps her cope--she tried the same approach when her son disappeared from a boat in Puget Sound decades earlier.

Then Tova forms a connection with Marcellus, a giant Pacific octopus who heretofore has been unwilling to cooperate with his captors.

Is it possible that Marcellus somehow holds the key to finding answers about her son's mysterious disappearance?

I felt somewhat impatient with the amount of page time in the book spent on tedious matters such as filling out forms and attempts to track down lost luggage.

And I didn't find Cameron particularly sympathetic, as he seems to have blown all opportunities through laziness and then blamed his failure on his circumstances--and on others' inability to be flexible or understanding. When it's revealed later in the book that he considers himself a genius, I felt even less likely to empathize with his dead-end job options in a mess that feels of his own making.

I loved Marcellus the octopus, and I decided not to spend time considering the potential issue of the anthropomorphism in the story (he needed to understand English in order for the story to work, after all). In fact, I wanted more more more Marcellus--and I loved his voice in the audiobook version of this book. He was my absolute favorite element, and I adored every scene that involved him.

An overly convenient situation and moment of chitchat pushes the main mystery of the story to a head-- although the reader has seen various layers of situations in the story that are leading us there--but again, I didn't mind. Remarkably Bright Creatures has a lot of heart, and I felt cozy in my confidence that all present situations would ultimately, in a fashion, work out.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Remarkably Bright Creatures is Shelby Van Pelt's debut novel.

If you like stories with heart, you might want to check out other books I've reviewed as heartwarming reads.


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