DiscoverScience Fiction

Charlies Story

By

Worth reading 😎

A teenage girl discovers a sentient octopus while exploring her home and is thrust into a life changing adventure.

McNicol has crafted a young adult tale with strong ecological themes. The book begins with a quote from Charles Darwin, setting the tone for the relationship that develops between Samantha and Charlie.


The year is 2045 and Samantha is a fourteen year old girl who lives with her scientist parents on an island off the coast of Georgia. The world she lives in is deep in climate crisis. Ocean levels are steadily rising, swallowing up island after island, forcing her to move several times. Coastal cities are destroyed and millions of people are displaced and left homeless. Samantha even had to live in a tent city and out of the family car for a short time. Temperatures are rising, both above the water and in the ocean, which has caused bio-engineered coral reef systems that are heat resistant to develop further north than ever before. Samantha's mother and father were recruited by the Reef Restoration project to help study the new reefs.


Samantha is obsessed with the ocean in her own way and spends a lot of time exploring the reef. She encounters an octopus one day that purposefully attempts to communicate with her and from there the story dives deep into the exploration of the species intelligence and the quest to save the planet.


The book is written from the view-point of several characters, one of them being Charlie the octopus. It was a very interesting touch to have Charlie as a first-person narrator in his own chapters. Octopi are well known for being extraordinarily intelligent creatures and Charlie is no exception here.


McNicol's story is equal parts devastation and hope. Humanity has sent the planet into a climate tailspin, but the book focuses the most on the scientific communities endless efforts to reverse climate change and save the environment. It is not the dystopian, post-apocalyptic novel you may predict it to be based off the first two chapters.


The book was enjoyable and it is the perfect book for activist-minded teens who are interested in climate change and the environment. There were a few flaws that detracted for me as an adult reader, but a teenage reader likely will not mind some of the more nuanced details that I disliked. The story opens with an entire chapter of backstory that read like an info-dump versus slowly revealing the information to us through action or dialogue. The chapters were short, sometimes just a page or two, which made for quick bursts of reading and it also made the book seem to fly by faster. McNicol herself grew up in Florida and has a degree in zoology and teaches biology and environmental studies. She clearly was influenced by her work to write this story and has injected much of her scientific knowledge into it.


There is an upcoming sequel and it will be interesting to see how Charlie and Samantha's journey continues.

Reviewed by

Daniele's travels have taken her around the world and back again, but her favorite adventures will always be found between the covers of a good book. She is now a farm girl with her horse trainer husband. Daniele loves all things Outlander and Disney and can't grow a garden to save her life.

Night Encounter

About the author

Ann R. McNicol grew up watching space launches and devouring science fiction. Exploring coral reefs and Florida beaches cemented her interest in science. When not writing, she walks with her husband, bikes, camps, keeps up with her adult children and plays with their attention-demanding cats. view profile

Published on March 03, 2022

50000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Science Fiction

Reviewed by