An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green is a quirky sci-fi novel that tells the story of April May. April is a graphic design graduate living in NYC when she happens upon a giant metal-appearing statue on 23rd St that she assumes is some type of art installation. She calls her friend Andy and they make a YouTube video in front of the statue who they refer to as Carl. The video goes viral overnight and before they know it, April and Andy are raking in the social and financial benefits of instant internet fame. April at first finds the fame an odd perk, something random that happened to her. As she gets a bigger and bigger taste, she slowly grows addicted to the feeling of having an audience. But then strange things start happening...
They learn there isn't just one Carl and no one saw any of the sculptures being erected, they were just there one day. Then there's the odd properties of the Carls. Miranda, an excited scientist in grad school, reaches out to April wondering what Carl may be composed of. When April responds, Miranda informs them that Carl's evident appearance and properties don't make sense. Then there's the Wikipedia page relevant to the Carls, whose spelling errors mysteriously refuse to fix themselves when anyone tries correct them. It gets even more peculiar when April starts having odd dreams and then learns she isn't the only one.
I absolutely loved this novel. As much as it sounds like a straight science-fiction novel it also serves as a cautionary tale in today's times. There is much of the book that plays on the relationship we all have to social media and fame. As I type this blog post now, knowing I'll be posting it to several social media channels, it's impossible to sometimes not get caught up in the likes, re-tweets and double taps. As April gets a taste of more and more fame, she becomes so hungry for it she starts doing anything and everything to stay relevant at great cost to herself. April isn't always a likable narrator, she's hard to side with at times and hard to sympathize with as she gets lost in the chase. But that's what makes good well-rounded characters right? When they are flawed and we don't always agree with them, we can often learn from them.
Another poignant commentary the novel explores is how as fame increases, society sees people less as human and more like deities. When we remove the humanity from people it makes us less sensitive to the very real feelings they as human-beings still have. There is also play on how divisive our society currently is. And how before we know it, everything becomes split between two polarizing sides. It becomes "us" vs "them" and not all of us as one human race on this planet trying to protect one another.
The science-fiction aspect of the book is great. I forgot how much fun it was to get lost in a novel, in a world that you know doesn't exist within your own. If you just surrender yourself to it, it takes you on a pretty great chase that I was so eager to get through. The book ends on a BANG! And I was so disappointed initially! BUT, then I learned this is going to be a series of two books and let me just tell you, I CANNOT WAIT! I am so thrilled there is going to be another book because honestly the ending is perfect and I will be dying to get my hands on the second installment. I'm not sure if there is any projected timeline since this one was just released but I'll be following closely.
Those who are fans of the tv series LOST, The Hunger Games trilogy, and Divergent books will love this book and be excited about the series! I am so glad I got this as my Book of the Month pick. Has anyone else read this yet? Are you as excited as I am? Let me know in the comments below!
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