Title: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
Author: Hank Green
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating: 5/5 stars
If you’re familiar with John Green’s work and expect this to be similar, you’re going to need to undergo a complete mind-wipe before digging into this masterpiece of a book. Not that John isn’t fabulous in his own way, but Hank’s style is so distinctly his.
Plus all of John’s books are about angsty teenagers who talk like hipsters in their mid-thirties. And Hank’s debut novel is science fiction with an extremely complicated adult main character.
So that’s one thing that needs to be cleared up right away: Hank’s novel is marketed to adults, although it can be a great bridge from YA to adult. The content isn’t necessarily too adult, but all of the main characters are grown-ups well out of college.
This story follows April May, who happens across a sculpture on her way home from work late one night. She’s captivated by it and on a whim, she calls up a friend of hers to come take a look. April tells him to bring his filming equipment, and the decide to make a video featuring their new friend, who they lovingly name Carl.
The next day, April wakes to find that their video has gone viral. Not only that, but their’s isn’t the only Carl; there are 63 others circling the globe, and nobody knows how they got there.
So this starts out as a look at sudden fame and how different people deal with it. April and her friend are immediately thrust into this world of interviews and social media, and they both have to learn how to adapt. It’s interesting to see how April reacts, regardless of how little she cared for media and the news before her newfound celebrity status. She makes some poor decisions throughout her journey, and while it sometimes makes her unlikable, it makes her feel very real.
However, some new information comes to light and the world slowly begins to realize that the Carls are not of their world.
This makes April’s position, right smack in the middle of it, suddenly all the more interesting because not only was she one of the first to discover the existence of the Carls, she also may have been the first to make contact. The story shifts from being a human examination to an almost Ready Player One-like mystery, where the entire world has to work together to discover what the Carls want and why they’re there.
It’s absolutely fascinating, and I adored this book. I had doubts going into it, and the beginning was a little rough. I also wasn’t a fan of some of Hank’s style choices: unnecessary exclamation points and some ALL CAPS that made the writing seem more juvenile. However, once I got into the meat of the story, I forgave those things immediately in favor of an absolutely remarkable journey.
The characters were all relatable and likable (although as previously mentioned, not all the time). Hank seems to know humans very well because the events of the story unfold in such a way that I believed it could all actually happen. The pacing of this story was excellent and I was never once bored; in fact I read it cover to cover in less than 24 hours because I was so engrossed.
I laughed, I cried, I was on the edge of my seat. Those last 50 pages had me losing my mind. The ending was fantastic and it was the perfect bridge between this and the sequel. Yes, a sequel! I thought this might be a standalone but once you get to the end, you’ll agree that if Hank doesn’t give us a second book fast, we’re going to have to go to his house and force his hand.
Not really, Hank! I would never do that!*
This was a wonderful book and it’s the kind of story that stays with you after and makes you think about it for days. So naturally I’ve been bugging my husband about it ever since and he’s about done with me. Sorry honey, it’s what you signed up for when you married me!