Title: Remarkably Bright Creatures
Author(s): Shelby Van Pelt
Format: Physical Read
Would I Recommend it? Probably.
You have a mystery to solve. Who are you going to call? Clearly a 60-pound octopus.
Remarkably Bright Creatures follows the stories of Tova Sullivan and Cameron. Tova is recently widowed and many years ago lost her son in a tragic accident. Cameron can’t keep a job, has had some rough patches in life, and is ready to learn more about his parents.
How are they connected? They both have a unique experience with the aquarium. Tova is the cleaning lady who befriends the octopus. Cameron gets a job at the aquarium.
Marcellus has decided to help his new friend Tova learn the truth about what happened to her son Erik. Can he find the truth? What other mysteries will be solved throughout this story?
In June, my co-workers and I decided to start a book club. This book club’s guidelines are that each month a member will be randomly selected to pick the book. That book needs to be one that no one else has read. Otherwise, the genre, topics, and format are up to you. At the end of the month, we meet to discuss our thoughts on the book.
Since this is a book club pick, I will provide my review and the consensus of the book club.
In June, I was the lucky winner. When it comes to picking books, it has already intrigued me if it has a pretty cover. So, as I was walking down the aisles of books and saw this book just sitting there, it immediately caught my attention. It was gorgeous. As soon as you open the book, you are greeted with some wonderful page art. I was pleasantly surprised.
Now that we have covered the cover, let’s look at the inside of the book.
I went back and forth on the rating for this book. The big question that I usually ask myself when I’m stuck between a 3 and a 4 is whether or not I’d recommend the book to someone else. In this case, yes, I probably would. The easier option would have been to give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars, but that would have made logical sense. (Also, Goodreads doesn’t give the option of halves.)
To describe Remarkably Bright Creatures in one word is slightly difficult. Perhaps heartwarming is the direction I’d go. But it’s not really heartwarming, more so intriguing. But no, that doesn’t work either. Hmm… emotional? I honestly have no idea the best way to describe this book. It truly is just a unique experience.
There are three main characters to this story, each with their own personality and backstory. Tova, the 70-year-old aquarium cleaning lady, Cameron the 30 something “failure” and of course Marcellus, the 60 pound Octopus.
While this story was predictable, had numerous chapters that I had to push through from sheer boredom, and a writing style that was odd at times, the story’s savior was Marcellus. His chapters were life-saving in more ways than one. They often made me laugh, and I always looked forward to them. Otherwise, when a chapter was good, I did not want to put it down.
I noticed that the character development was different as well. I felt like I never really understood or could picture what the characters were like until the end. And even then, it was more guessing. The author established one main feature about each character and then covered portions of their back story.
If I am being completely honest, the story is 3 stars, but with Marcellus plus the beautiful cover, it becomes 4 stars. Overall this is an emotionally driven story with a clear and solid ending. You will not be overly emotional with this book, but some moments made me tear up, laugh, or smile.
Marcellus McSquiddles was easily my favorite character, and I secretly wish more chapters were dedicated to him. He was the show’s star.
Book Club Consensus
While my book club didn’t hate the book, they also did not like it. Here were the *BIG* concepts that we covered.
- Cameron was way too whiny, ran away from everything, and encompassed every stereotypical thing related to a child without parents.
- Cameron blamed everyone else for his mistakes and took zero responsibility.
- There were so many little details that were completely unnecessary and drawn out. For example, the cleaning routine at the aquarium was described in so much detail that I could clean it with my eyes closed.
- The book would have been better as a screenplay rather than a novel. We literally cast the entire movie for it when we came to this realization.
Do I think this is a good book?
Yes, I do. I think it was overhyped because it was a “Jenna Reads” book. But overall, I enjoyed it.
Can the octopus talk to humans? Is this realistic?
No, the octopus does not talk to the humans with his words. You are shown his internal thoughts and feelings, but no direct words are exchanged. They do communicate in other ways but not in words.
Would I recommend this to anyone and everyone?
Kind of. I would recommend it to anyone looking for something different, enjoys reading about family connections, and loves a good cover.
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt is a debut novel. While it is noticeable that it is a debut, there was a wide range of wonderful components to this story. I am not sure if she will write another story, but it would be interesting to see what she writes next.
On a side note, if you like documentaries, you may also like “My Octopus Teacher”. It has similar vibes to this book.