My book club’s pick for this month was Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt, a book whose bright cover has been ubiquitous this year. I picked this one up on a recent trip to Parnassus Bookstore, based on the buzz about the book. (Also, I think octopuses are pretty cool.) It’s about Marcellus, an elderly octopus living in an aquarium in Washington state; Tova, an older woman who cleans the aquarium; and Cameron, a younger man who arrives in town in search of his father. Marcellus senses a connection between Tova and Cameron, and spends his remaining days trying to communicate it to them.

Why I picked it up: I succumbed to the buzz and the pretty cover!

Remarkably Bright Creatures has many 5 star reviews on Goodreads from people who found it heartwarming, charming and lovely. Maybe I am just not one for heartwarming books, because while there were things I enjoyed about this book, I just didn’t love it. The characters aren’t stock or stereotypical, and they are lonely and have had enough tragedy in their lives to make them interesting to a reader. But the neat way that everything fit together that felt simplistic to me. Too many coincidences and convenient path-crossings, too many easy answers to complicated problems. Perhaps I am too much of a curmudgeon to enjoy a book that is supposed to restore your faith in humanity.

I did like Marcellus, and his chapters only reinforced to me that my decision never to eat octopus again was the right one for me. (I love it, but I just can’t eat it anymore knowing how smart and sensitive they are.)

So this one was just OK for me. Glad I read it because I was curious about it, but I don’t get the hype.

I listened to Remarkably Bright Creatures on audio. I always love books narrated by Marin Ireland, and Michael Urie as the octopus was brilliant.

Remarkably Bright Creatures was the 7th book of 2024 and satisfies the Beautiful Cover and Debut Novel categories of the 2024 EDIWTB Reading Challenge.