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Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt Book Review

Reasons For Reading This Book:

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt has been on my to read list since it was published last year. This specific book came as a recommendation from my best friend. After finally getting my hands on a library copy I was able to read it in March 2023. As someone who has a degree in environmental studies and a love for ocean life, I was excited to read this book for the story and interpretation of an octopus as a narrator. I avoided reading the description of the book as I wanted to go into it with little expectations of the story. Before starting I was told by my best friend that she loved it and when she tells others about this book it sounds like a child’s book but is not.


Content of This Book:

Tova is a lonely widow, Cameron is a down on his luck young man, and Marcellus is a giant Pacific octopus. These three contrasting characters’ lives become intertwined cleverlyin a story that is heartwarming, charming, and oh so unconventional. 


What I Liked About This Book:


The first thing that comes to mind is the ease of the writing. I can see how it could be viewed as juvenile. I can see why someone would say that but I would respond by saying the focus of the novel is on the story and less on the sophistication of the word choice and literary devices. The main literary device used in this novel is flashbacks. This is used to provide the reader with information about a few of the narrators. The main emphasis for the octopus is its intelligence. This idea comes across strongly in both its actions and inner thoughts for why he does what he does. I really enjoyed the feeling this novel gave me as I read it even though it had a more somber feel. I was optimistic and found joy in picking it up each time. It is rare to have a novel where the narrators are so different. This novel has three main narrators who are an octopus, an older women, and a 30 year old man. The varying perspectives in this novel lends to a wider view of how one thing can affect people of different species, backgrounds, ages, and life experiences. I was entertained and intrigued by the underlying mystery of the suspicious death of Tova’s son. The author did a fantastic job of weaving this plot point into the overall story by having it be a background element with great importance. This book has been described as heartwarming and charming and it is just that.


What I Disliked About This Book:


A majority of this book consisted of the characters doing mundane activities in their day-to-day lives. This could really turn off some readers. I found that I could only take it to an extent. I did find myself zoning off during some of these parts of the novel. From the jump Cameron really annoyed me. I know that the reason for my dislike of this character is because of our opposing personalities. I was fatigued by his outlook on life. With that being said I did grow slightly more fond of him by the end of the novel. There was inconsistencies in the level of details given. There were times where Marcellus would go into extreme detail about something and then Tova would graze right over it. I did have the thought that this was intentional to show the difference in intelligence between Giant Pacific Octopus and humans. As I said above, I was entertained by the suspicious death plot point, but I was ultimately let down by its conclusion in the novel.

Would I Recommend This Book?

Overall I would recommend this book. There are meaningful lessons learned in this novel that can apply to so many different people. It is also entertaining and easy to read. I rate it 4 stars.

Check out my book reviews for 2023!!

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2021 Book Rankings

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