From the publisher:
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.
I have two things I need to share before I dive into this review in too much detail.
1) I really hated April May.
2) I loved everything else about this book.
It’s hard to like an unreliable narrator, and ultimately, that is what April is in the entirety of the book. We’re stuck experiencing this Epic Thing with her from the start and as the story unfolds… and fame impacts April… she makes some decisions that make her really unlikable. Even when she’s trying to explain it’s a “character flaw” of hers to behave in certain ways and she has had these issues since she was young — it doesn’t make you go, “Oh, it’s her personality!” Well, if it’s her personality, she’s still a really shitty person.
THAT being said…
This book was absolutely captivating to read. I hope that it’s taught in High school — and, knowing Hank Green — that may be the intent of this entire book. I don’t know if that’s true, as I’ve kept away from reading other reviews or news articles relating to this book as I was in the thick of reading it. There are some major themes here and life lessons wrapped into a sci-fi mystery thriller. It is easily engaging for a YA book.
The pace of the book got me page-flipping at some points as I knew the build-up was there for something EPIC to happen a few pages ahead… and if I had any hopes for changes to be added to a possible sequel (I’m sure there has to be one!) it would be for the author to be able to clean-up some of the back story parts. I certainly didn’t need a number of pages on a pet detective foray in April’s youth.
The mystery of the Carls is enticing and held me all the way until the end of the book. I wanted to know more about them than anything else in the whole story. I hope we get more information on the Carls in coming books! We have to… don’t we?!
I rate this book a 3 out of 5 stars. The 3 is all for the story itself, the themes it presents, and the discussions it can have held around it. I couldn’t get behind April at all. But then again, I think that is a point of the book as well.
My professional background in biotechnology as a research chemist and as a veterinary technician has allowed me to have experienced two vastly different fields and for that I am thankful. In both careers, I have mentored, encouraged, and developed talent.
As a mother of two (a daughter and a son), I’m a self-proclaimed backyard chicken guru and someone who has “foster failed” nearly all the animals currently running the household. Oh, and I maintain a husband in my spare time.