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. 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 social media is changing fame, rhetoric, and radicalization; how our culture deals with fear and uncertainty; and how vilification and adoration spring from 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 a
I’m going to start off by saying that I am without a doubt 100% (probably more) a total fangirl when it comes to the Green Brothers. Whether it be Hank or John, I will read ALL their books and watch ALL their videos. I have been watching VlogBrothers since they were Brotherhood 2.0 only communicating to one another via YouTube videos. So when I found out that Hank Green was writing/had written a book, I quite literally screamed out loud. I knew I would buy it and love it. I even preordered it through Waterstones (which is in the UK and I live in the US) because they were the first that I saw to announce they had signed copies). I ALSO bought the Barnes and Nobel special edition because I participated in the book club where this book was chosen. To read about that click here!
Okay, now to talk about the actual book. This is considered an ‘adult contemporary’ novel, but it definitely has some science-fictiony aspects to it. I’m not going to say anything more about that for fear of giving spoilers. I knew I would like this story, but I actually surprised myself by absolutely loving it. It had me laughing out loud and even shedding a tear or two.
April May is our main character and our narrator. She’s telling us the story in the first person as if she’s actually speaking to us and telling us the story. (This is one of my favorite kinds of narrators.) So we get the story as April May experienced it with little tidbits of what she knows or how she feels now. April was honestly so fricking relatable. There were definitely some times where I said, woooah what did you do that for? But more often than not I found myself saying, yup I’ve been there I understand where that’s coming from. She’s a character with countless flaws but she recognizes each and every one of said flaws. She knows she’s not perfect but keeps moving forward anyway. She’s very critical of herself, something that most people can relate to. With a tendency toward self-destructive behavior, she acknowledges what she could or should have done differently but knows she can’t change the past. Even when she got a bit too intense I liked her because she’s also funny and genuinely entertaining. She was a relatable kind of girl and I love characters I can relate to.
“I Have No Idea Why I Can’t Ever Shut The Fuck Up: The April May Story.”
Andy was a great supporting character. I came to see him as April May’s sidekick of sorts that after a certain point was just along for the ride. He was a better friend than April might have deserved. He was there when she needed him even when she was kind of being a jerk. I liked how down to earth and just genuinely excited Andy got about everything happening.
“Just because someone has power over you doesn’t mean they’re going to use it to hurt you.”
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing was such an interesting and unique story I couldn’t put it down. I actually waited until a month after it was released to read it because I needed to make sure I could read it in one sitting and not be disturbed by my newborn baby. So after putting the baby to sleep, I spent five hours on my couch fllyyying through this story. I loved the perspective because I feel like it was almost like we were getting to know what Hank goes through being a well known YouTuber. (Obviously not to the extent of April May, but a sense of what his life is like.) I could just feel how parts of this story came right from Hanks real life experiences. I thought that was awesome. It’s such a unique perspective, one that so few people have, so it was cool to learn about it.
“The power that each of us has over complete strangers to make them feel terrible and frightened and weak is amazing.”
One of the best things about this book was all of the serious and relevant topics it hit on. Now, I’m going to say right now that I’m a straight white female that grew up in a middle-class family so, I am not the right person to be judging if these portrayals were accurate, but I mention them anyway because they were certainly thought-provoking to me. There’s discussion about race, sexuality and sexual preference, terrorism, cyberbullying, so many things that are constantly being discussed in today’s world. Hank’s characters were diverse and interesting. They were flawed and so realistic. They talked about real-world problems in real ways that made me seriously think about these issues.
“This is what humanity is, solidarity in the face of fear. Hope in the face of destruction.”
The last thing I want to mention is that while yes this is technically an adult novel. I definitely think some readers on the high end of young adults could read this and enjoy it. Those readers that are about to enter adulthood could definitely read and learn from this book because the worse thing is really the extensive swearing (but cmon what 15-18-year-old doesn’t swear, I know I did.)
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a new favorite of mine for sure. I will be reading this book many times in the future. I loved everything about this story. I loved all the twists and turns. I loved every surprise. This was a well written, creative and funny story that I would love to recommend to anyone.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.
*Want to buy this book? Just click the image of the book cover! As Amazon Affiliates we will get a percentage of any purchase, feel free to support us.