I’ve experienced some tear-jerking novels. Most of the time, I find that the only way an author can succeed in getting a reader to be moved by what they read isn’t only by telling a sad story, but by making it relatable in more than one way. Integrating themes that are tragic by nature, and bound to be lived by an individual, one day or the other, can prove to be very useful in making a fictional story powerful. Steven Rowley brings us a novel about Ted, Lily and an evil octopus. Ted discovers that Lily, his dog, has an octopus attached to her head and quickly realizes that this uninvited creature seeks to ruin a cherished friendship that has lasted years. As Ted reminisces about his relationship with his beloved dog throughout the book, the story brings joy, sadness and madness all in one neat package for readers to plunge in.
Right off the bat, I’m going to say that this novel didn’t get me to crawl into a corner and sob in silence. However, the friendship between Ted and Lily is a strong and beautiful one. It will have you think about your pet. But I believe the best part of this novel is how it will also have you think about the precious people in your lives and the bonds that you never thought could come to an end. The relationship between Ted and Lily is absolutely cute, especially when you look at Lily’s way of life. No grudges, never looks back on the past, lives in the present and gives away unconditional love. Only Ted can look back to their shared adventures and see how amazing Lily was and still is. It isn’t shocking to see Ted focus a lot on these memories when an octopus arrives out of the blue and seeks to destroy the one real love that Ted has ever had. As much as we’d all enjoy a story of a real octopus stuck onto a dog’s head, Steven Rowley wanted to have an eight-legged creature to embody the one thing that mankind have yet to have a solid solution for. I definitely can’t stop appreciating the imagery put into the octopus throughout the novel, especially with a maintained enchanting, lively and still powerful writing style.
I believe it’s the “magical” part of this novel that I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. Giving a voice to the octopus and Lily is a big move to embrace, but I think it took away from my ability to really believe the story that was handed to us. The chapter that had me the most disoriented is when the whole story took a completely magical turn. It’s as if that moment was added only to give readers a brand new adventure, instead of being stuck reminiscing the past. As endearing as the friendship Ted and Lily had, having the protagonist go through the smallest adventures he shared with Lily could have me wondering if these anecdotes were really necessary. But I also came to realize that some of these chapters could easily put a little smile on the corner of other people’s faces and even make others teary-eyed. This novel is certainly one dedicated for pet holders, as it well be a heart-wrenching tale. It doesn’t only tackle the solid love that exists between pet holders and their sidekicks, but it also digs into subjects like loneliness, anger and grief.
Completing this novel made me realize one thing. Octopus’ are really, really mean. Ted and Lily’s relationship was entertaining. The arrival of the dear octopus had Ted thinking a lot and trying to figure out life in a hasty fashion. Watching this story unfold is an emotional ride that every reader should be aware of. Although the narrator’s humour could come off as a little strong at certain parts, his personality, along with his dog’s will keep readers hooked till the end. The different stages that Ted goes through, and how he reaches out for help (or help comes to him) makes this novel an interesting adventure to tag along with. The character’s evolution is bewildering, and having a “magical” twist to Lily and the octopus definitely helps make this unique. Anyone who loves a good story about the relationship between dog and human will see something special in this. The beauty still lies in how the story will also have you appreciate the love you have with your dearest one.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for sending us an advance copy for review and for hosting the Summer Reading Blog Tour!
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