Title: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
Author: Hank Green
Genre: Very 2018 specific sci-fi
Pub date: September 25, 2018
Read if you like: Arrival, Black Mirror but much more fun.
April is an artist, but she sure doesn’t feel like one. Not yet. After graduating from arts school with a degree in design, she takes a job at a start-up, as all good millennials with no specific life plan (yet) do. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a millennial and I have absolutely nothing against being categorized as one. In fact, it might be just the opposite. I get unbelievably annoyed at those who group us all together and pin negative characteristics to the whole lot. If you’d like to get me ranting at a volume above an appropriate “inside voice,” make one of those comments to me at the dinner table. Do it, I dare you.
Ok, I digress. April is a twenty-something living in NYC (sound familiar?) who knows her job is not the way she wants to spend the rest of her life, but can’t see a way out of it. This all changes when, as she is leaving her office for the night at 3 AM (yet again), she discovers a ten-foot-high sculpture of a transformer dressed in samurai armor. So she does what she knows best: she creates something. She and her friend Andy make a Youtube video about this piece of art, which April names Carl, and it instantly goes viral. Little did April know at the moment she chose to make the video that there are at least sixty Carls spread across the world. They all appeared at the exact same time and nobody knows how. No one saw them coming – not even a security camera. As the first human to notice them, she gets pulled into the limelight right along side these mysterious beings. After that, nothing for April (or the rest of humanity on this planet) is ever the same.
Bookworms, I loved this book. For a lot of reasons. But here are a few of the most significant ones:
- It’s really and truly fun. It’s an adventure and it’s a little ominous, but it’s a puzzle and we (the readers) along with April are trying to figure it all out as fast as possible. It’s a quick read and packed with lovable characters and I found it impossible to put down. It’s the most fun read I’ve had reading a book since The Bucket List.
- Green gives you a bit of a detailed look into the world of digital content creation and the amount of effort that goes into branding oneself. April and Andy are forced to walk the fine line between thoughtfulness and spontaneity. They care about what they put out there and how it is framed, but they get a leg-up by being the first to break a scoop.
- Despite everything that happens, April maintains a positive outlook. She consistently believes in the good nature of the Carls, even when there is no evidence to support that. I identify with her desire to believe the best in people, even when they’re ten-foot-tall metal sculptures and their purpose on our planet is not clear.
This book left me considering how our world would respond to a global occurrence of this sort. Would we work together? Would we section ourselves off and refuse to share information? Would we actually be in better hands if the woman in charge was a twenty-three-year-old with an iPhone and a rapidly growing global online following? And, as a human of social media, what is too much to share? Where do you draw the line of privacy?
In short, read this book for a good time. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll get your heart racing, and it’ll leave you thinking.
Interested in An Absolutely Remarkable Thing?
SYNOPSIS: (AS TOLD BY THE BACK OF THE BOOK)
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 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 himself 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 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 and insightful novel of now.