An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
Published by Dutton on September 25, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 343 pages Source: Target
Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository • IndieBound
The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work 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 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--everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires--and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.
Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a story about an alien invasion, a girl who become unexpected famous overnight, and why it’s super dangerous to be a rash person. On some levels, I thought this book was fantastic. On others, I didn’t like it. But the overall takeaway I want people to have from An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is that it’s an absolutely remarkable book.
Starting with the things… okay thing I didn’t like: April May. I couldn’t relate to April at all. This doesn’t have anything to do with how she is written as a character or Hank’s choice in personality traits being flat or ANYTHING like that. I didn’t like April May because we didn’t click, and that’s all. She’s a well-rounded character with a lot of faults. A lot of faults. She’s a disgruntled young adult who is working a job she hates who blows up with fame completely unexpectedly and handles it badly. But she’s still smart with loyal friends. I think that many – most, even – reader will fall right into line April.
Even though I didn’t love April, I adored the supporting characters. I would have loved to see this story from Maya’s point of view. Or Miranda’s! I think Hank Green did well going with a character who made YouTube videos and was a Twitter personality as his main character, because that’s where Hank found his fame as well (although somewhat less dramatically and I imagine it took a lot more work). I loved how there didn’t seem to be any token characters, or characters that were there just to be a romantic interest. Everyone had a purpose, and it was wonderful.
The plot was fantastic. The first half of the book was mostly about the mysterious appearance of the Carls and April’s rise to fame. If I’m being honest, the first half of the book was a struggle for me. The pacing felt very slow and I was bored. There were times where I’d flip through the remaining pages and try to decide if I was going to DNF it or not, which I don’t think I’ve ever done with a book over a 4 star average rating.
Fortunately, the second half of the book saved it for me. I loved the Dream. The cooperative environment and the puzzle solving is a lot of fun – this particular section of the book reminded of everything I loved from Ready Player One. I was excited to see characters who I thought had disappeared coming back into the story. This is where I really would have liked to see Maya’s POV, because April did so little within the Dream itself. She had other concerns, of course, like the ongoing debate about the intention of the Carls. This part of the book picked up running and took me along with it. Second half of the book? Loved it.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is the type of book that is begging for a sequel. There’s so much we don’t know, so much left to earn about the oncoming invasion. I’ll definitely be reading the second book, because this one went from nothing to everything for me. It’s such a strong debut, and doubly good if you enjoy April’s voice.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing stays on the shelf
Early on in the book, I was debating about whether or not I was going to keep this or give it to my brother (who I think would really enjoy it). This choice was made doubly hard because it’s a signed copy (although no Hankler Fish, alas). I think if the story had continued much the way it did in the beginning, I would have given it to him, signed or not. BUT THE END. The last half was fantastic and now I have so many question. I’ll be keeping this book and looking for more.