Reviews of The Memory of Animals by Claire Fuller

The Memory of Animals

by Claire Fuller

The Memory of Animals by Claire Fuller X
The Memory of Animals by Claire Fuller
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  • Published:
    Jun 2023, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Callum McLaughlin
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Book Summary

From the award-winning author of Our Endless Numbered Days, Swimming Lessons, Bitter Orange, and Unsettled Ground comes a beautiful and searing novel of memory, love, survival—and octopuses.

In the face of a pandemic, an unprepared world scrambles to escape the mysterious disease causing sensory damage, nerve loss, and, in most cases, death. Neffy, a disgraced and desperately indebted twenty-seven-year-old marine biologist, registers for an experimental vaccine trial in London—perhaps humanity's last hope for a cure. Though isolated from the chaos outside, she and the other volunteers—Rachel, Leon, Yahiko, and Piper—cannot hide from the mistakes that led them there.

As London descends into chaos outside the hospital windows, Neffy befriends Leon, who before the pandemic had been working on a controversial technology that allows users to revisit their memories. She withdraws into projections of her past—a childhood bisected by divorce, a recent love affair, her obsessive research with octopuses, and the one mistake that ended her career. The lines between past, present, and future begin to blur, and Neffy is left with defining questions: Who can she trust? Why can't she forgive herself? How should she live, if she survives?

Claire Fuller's The Memory of Animals is an ambitious, deeply imagined work of survival and suspense, grief and hope, consequences and connectedness that asks what truly defines us—and to what lengths we will go to rescue ourselves and those we love.

DEAREST H,

Is it possible to fall in love at twelve? With an octopus? I met him in the Ionian Sea when I was snorkelling off the beach where my father had his hotel. I like to think he loved me back, as you maybe did too. I wonder often where you are and how you're doing. Are you dead or alive? Was it wrong, what I did? And is it better to live a small life, contained and enclosed where everything is provided and the unexpected rarely happens? A safe life. Or one where you swim out into the unknown and risk everything. I chose for you since the choice wasn't yours to make. But, I wanted to write to apologize  to ask your forgiveness  to explain myself.

NEFFY

Day

Zero

Minus

Two



A nurse collects me from the ground-floor lobby and takes me and my wheeled suitcase up in the lift. I smell the familiar odours of disinfectant and industrial cleaner, mixed with a kind of hopeful hopelessness. The nurse, whose head is level with my chest, is wearing the ubiquitous hospital top and ...

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Though the novel very much stands on its own merits, parallels with the Covid pandemic are impossible to ignore. Mention of lockdowns, self-isolation and vaccine trials make the narrative feel just familiar enough for the more exaggerated story elements to seem frighteningly plausible. In this regard, it was also a clever choice by author Claire Fuller to keep the scope of the novel relatively small. Though her characters' situation is extreme and this heightens the drama, their confinement to a single location means the sense of monotony, loneliness, claustrophobia and fear of the outside ring true with many of our own experiences of living through the worst stages of a pandemic...continued

Full Review Members Only (543 words)

(Reviewed by Callum McLaughlin).

Media Reviews

Good Housekeeping
A thrilling departure from our reality.

Bustle
A fascinating and suspenseful story of shame, penance, and survival.

Independent Book Review (UK)
When Fuller releases something, you should probably pay attention. This dystopia is giving off thriller vibes with its pandemic reality, the complications of squid, and survival.

Powell's (UK)
The Memory of Animals has done the impossible―made me eagerly anticipate a novel that involves a pandemic in the year 2023. It's also got: experimental technology that allows users to revisit their memories, marine biology, and promises to be an immersive, thought-provoking, and haunting-in-a-good-way literary masterwork.

Foreword Reviews (starred review)
Stunning... . Sobering and evocative, The Memory of Animals is a novel about who we choose to be when the lights go out.

Library Journal (starred review)
Compelling... . Riveting... . long-time Fuller readers will relish this completely engrossing story, which questions what we value most.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A haunting novel of second chances.

Booklist
Makes us ponder what we owe each other as humans.

Kirkus Reviews
Fuller excels in examining the everyday moments at the heart of a life... . A memorable meditation on how the human struggle to survive in captivity is not so different than that of our animal kin.

Reader Reviews

Elfreda Bertha

A Captivating Journey Through the Mindscapes of Creatures
Claire Fuller's "The Memory of Animals" takes readers on an enchanting literary voyage, delving deep into the intricate tapestries of animal cognition and memory. With a lyrical prose that weaves together scientific insights and vivid storytelling, ...   Read More
Anuj

Memories
It's very good book.
prem singh

The Memory of Animals
The Memory of Animals by Claire Fuller takes readers on a memorable experience of a world ravaged by a mysterious pandemic, where the line between present-day reality and memory blurs. As her mission intertwines with the evaluation of personal ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Technology and Memory

Photo of smiling man in hooded sweatshirt wearing virtual reality headset and extending hand In her novel The Memory of Animals, author Claire Fuller features the use of a fictional device that allows people to revisit memories in vivid detail, as though physically embodying their past selves. Though this may sound like a radical concept existing firmly within the realms of science fiction, the use of technology to document memories — and in some cases even alter them — is, in a way, already very much a reality.

Wist is an app currently in its beta stage that can transform videos you have recorded on your phone into immersive experiences. By capturing and upscaling data related to color, depth and audio, the app can transform your footage from flat 2D visuals into 3D projections. Through the use of a virtual ...

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Read-Alikes

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