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Charlie’s Story

First Contact

by Ann McNicol

Charlie's Story - Ann R. McNicol
Editions:Kindle - First Edition: $ 4.99
ISBN: B09TRX48MV
Pages: 207
Hardcover - First Edition: $ 19.99
ISBN: 9798406236109
Size: 5.50 x 8.50 in
Pages: 192
Paperback - First Edition: $ 13.99
ISBN: 9798406662571
Size: 5.50 x 8.50 in
Pages: 192

Fourteen-year-old Samantha spends her days exploring the shallow reef behind her island home. With her world locked in a battle against rising seas, scientists deploy genetically modified corals to rebuild reefs and protect the coastline. No one expects the reefs to be a hotbed of evolution, but they are.

When an octopus flows off a rock in her lagoon, Samantha is startled. When he purposefully arranges pieces of coral on the sand, trying to communicate, she is shocked. How she responds may determine the fate of life on Earth.

The year is 2045, and fourteen-year-old Samantha lives in a world where ocean levels are rising, destroying coastal cities and swallowing islands. Millions of displaced people are homeless. The planet is in a climate tailspin that threatens civilization.

Researchers deployed genetically modified corals that can grow in warmer waters. They aimed to sequester carbon dioxide and stabilize the climate. The successful project produced an extensive barrier reef system along the coasts of Georgia and Florida.

Samantha lives on a research island off the coast of Georgia with her scientist parents. She becomes obsessed with the ocean, spending all her time exploring the reef. One day, she encounters an octopus attempting to communicate with her.

The story dives deep into an exploration of species’ intelligence and the quest to save the planet.

This book is on:
  • 1 To Be Read list
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Excerpt:
Reviews:Carrie Comfort on Goodreads.com wrote:

This was a fun read. I loved the storyline…Humans and octopuses communicating and working together in the way that they do in this book - what an intriguing concept! I felt like I was fourteen all over again reading along as the main character grew and started to find herself through pushing boundaries, navigating several new and existing relationships, and learning from her mistakes. My favorite connection is the one that develops between Samantha and Charlie.

I also really enjoyed learning so much about marine life. I paused my reading several times to look up specific species mentioned in the book and enjoyed sharing what I learned about coral and various sea creatures with my six year old.

It was a good subplot as-is, but I would’ve enjoyed a little bit more drama with PharmEx. Though that probably would’ve taken away from the main focus of the book and I’m glad things worked out the way they did (less)

Sarah Callen on Onlinebookclub.org wrote:

Charlie's Story introduces us to Samantha, a tenacious and lonely teenage girl who adores being out on the reef. One day, she encounters an octopus who she believes is trying to speak with her. She affectionately names him Charlie and sets off on a journey to communicate with him. Little does she know that her life will be flipped entirely upside down in the process.

I thoroughly enjoyed this particular book. It's a quick and light-hearted read with engaging characters and an intriguing premise. The book is primarily written in first-person from Samantha's perspective, though it does switch around to different characters. I was impressed at the author's ability to write in a way that seemed consistent with a teenage girl. It's clear that Ann McNicol knew the character very well. We learn not only about Samantha's dreams and desires but also about her insecurities and quirks.

The author also does an excellent job with character development. At the beginning of Charlie's Story, Samantha is isolated, lonely, and very unsure of herself in any situation outside of the reef. Samantha grows throughout the book and is in a very different place at the end of the book. It was satisfying to go on that emotional journey with her.

Sarah Robinson on Amazon.com wrote:

From the first pages I was hooked. Interesting characters, a compelling storyline, and rich descriptive writing that transports the reader to coastal life in 2045, as sea levels have risen and humans have adapted, makes this a fun and engrossing book. While the setting is disturbing on one hand- catastrophic flooding due to global warming leading to social upheaval-on the other hand, it is not a dystopian novel. Planet Earth is still home to diverse species, and Mcnicol's protagonist, Samantha, relishes her marine environment and the creatures that share it with her, especially the octopus, "Charlie." While humans have, indeed, made a mess of the planet, humans are also working on solutions, especially the scientific community, of which Samantha's family is a part. By giving Charlie a voice, Mcnicol reminds us that we are not alone on Earth and are far from the only 'intelligent' beings. "Charlie's Story" is both familiar and new, both fun and thought-provoking.


About the Author

When not writing, Ann spends her time walking with her husband, bike riding, camping, visiting with her adult children, and playing with their attention-demanding cats.

Ann grew up in South Florida, exploring local beaches and coral reefs, watching space launches, and devouring science fiction novels. She earned a Master’s degree in Zoology from the University of Queensland, and worked as a laboratory assistant in fisheries science, pharmaceutical science and virology. She has taught high school and college classes in biology, chemistry, environmental science and biotechnology.

Charlie’s Story is Anns’ first novel