Saturday, February 15, 2020

Book Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
Author: Hank Green
Publication: Dutton (September 25, 2018)

Description: In his wildly entertaining debut novel, Hank Green—cocreator of Crash Course, Vlogbrothers, and SciShow—spins a sweeping, cinematic tale about a young woman who becomes an overnight celebrity before realizing she's part of something bigger, and stranger, than anyone could have possibly imagined.

The Carls just appeared.

Roaming through New York City at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship—like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor—April and her best friend, Andy, make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day, April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world—from Beijing to Buenos Aires—and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.

Seizing the opportunity to make her mark on the world, April now has to deal with the consequences her new particular brand of fame has on her relationships, her safety, and her own identity. And all eyes are on April to figure out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.

Compulsively entertaining and powerfully relevant, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing grapples with big themes, including how the social internet is changing fame, rhetoric, and radicalization; how our culture deals with fear and uncertainty; and how vilification and adoration spring for the same dehumanization that follows a life in the public eye. The beginning of an exciting fiction career, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a bold and insightful novel of now.

My Thoughts: Twenty-three year old April May has worked late at her job and is on her way home when she encounters a strange art installation - a ten-foot tall statue. Being an art major, her first instinct is to call one of her fellow classmates to come see it and bring his cameras so that they can post their find on social media. Little does she know that her middle of the night impulse will bring so many changes in her life and in the world.

Turns out the statue that she names Carl is just one for sixty-four Carls who have appeared simultaneously in cities around the world. They were the first to publicize the find and they have big plans to capitalize on April's new-found celebrity. They come up with a plan to market her and get an agent and begin trying to understand what the Carls are all about.

April wants to think that they are benevolent but there is a growing faction that believes the Carls are the first step to invading the Earth. And there are some confusing finds that make everyone question what the Carls are for.

Besides the statues which are made of materials unknown on Earth, there is the Dream which seems to be infecting humanity and which contains puzzles for humanity to solve.

This was an intriguing first contact story. It was also a great story about the way fame changes people. I enjoyed reading the story which is primarily told from April's point of view as though it was her story of what happened when the Carls appeared.

The ambiguous ending allows lots of room for individual interpretation of the events. The writing was crisp and the story flowed well. I found it intriguing and couldn't put it down.

Favorite Quote:
Human beings are terrible at accepting uncertainty, so when we're ignorant, we make assumptions based on how we imagine the world. And our guess is so obviously correct that other guesses seem, at best willful ignorance -- at worst, an attack.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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