Cute and heartwarming, if a bit of a slog in the first half. A sentient octopus, an octogenarian who needs some closure... An odd yet endearing setup.
Plot: ★★ 1/2
So I definitely, 100% picked up this novel because someone shared that it involved the antics of a sentient octopus who wrote diary entries. That's the kind of magical realism I will always show up to read.
Remarkably Bright Creatures follows the story of Tova, an elderly woman living out her days as a the nightly cleaning lady at the local aquarium. Her husband recently passed away, and her son died tragically at 18, so Tova's got to keep busy somehow as a single woman alone, and cleaning aquarium glass is something to do.
Tova's Swedish roots mandate that she do something as that's the thing "to do."
Enter Marcellous, the sentient Giant Pacific Octopus who's nearing the end of his lifespan in his aquarium tank. He knows everything there is to know in the aquarium, including where to get the best food and how to escape his enclosure. He also, to his surprise, finds out that he knows Tova too.
Tova and Marcellous form an unlikely and seemingly one-sided nightly conversation ritual. Tova talks, Marcellous listens, and when Tova's not there Marcellous plots out his next moves when it comes to Tova's unfinished business.
What will happen to Tova and Marcellous?
I'm going to stop the setup there, because literally anything else would be a spoiler, and as it is, I found this novel so extremely predictable.
That, honestly, was this novel's problem for me. It was heartwarming and charming, yes. But the dry and dull first half, combined with the utter predictability of where we were going, led to me wishing the novel would wrap itself up so I could be done with it. (Not a good way for a novel to make a reader feel.)
I wish the author had leaned into the magical realism a bit more, and leaned less on the predictable nature of the plot itself. From the very entrance of some characters, it was clear to see what their purpose was for Tova and the plot and therefore I found it very hard to care about the journey. If we had been left in the dark for longer (less POVs?) maybe I'd be writing a different review. But sadly, I just found myself wishing for more in this quaint family drama tale.
Definitely pick this up though if it's of interest—there are some gems here regardless of the plot's pacing.
Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.