Book Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

Amazon Cover

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: A Novel by Hank Green


In his wildly entertaining debut novel, Hank Greencocreator of Crash Course, Vlogbrothers, and SciShowspins 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.



We need more April in the World.

I found this an uncomfortable read in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home orders in America. I read this July 8, 2020.

“This is the first time a truly international issue had hit our newly borderless world this hard, and no one knew how it might play out.” (page 215 / 65% mark on my kindle)

Copyright 2018. Meaning written no later than 2017. I would say far earlier for a first work, but Mr. Green had major connections.

So many things of this book follow what we are experiencing right now. Social media connections around the world, people using fear as a weapon to raise themselves up and attack other people for a cause, and the need to problem-solve WORLD-WIDE because no one person, no one country has the whole thing sewn up.

It is like a huge metaphor for what is happening right now. Of course, it was meant to use a sci-fi setting to explore insta-fame, relationships, and a variety of day-to-day questions. It’s more a literary work than a genre work.

We are now in a borderless world, but various entities are fighting to reestablish barriers. Some governments try building walls and fences, others locking people out electronically and physically, and still others are removing themselves from treaties and world-wide organizations. But, like in WWII, doing so just mean those barriers will fall at the worst possible time. Children don’t get to climb back into the crib; the world always gets bigger … and scarier.

All of this is in the book, only it isn’t. The subtext hit me hard, making me put down the book several times. If I wasn’t on a deadline for a book club in less than three days, I likely would have set it aside. To recover. But I pushed through in a single day.

The story is there. And I *think* some people can just focus on the story. Which is a problem-solving, literary exploration of fame, science-fiction drama. I just couldn’t see it well through the life I am living right now.

But I do agree with the character, even after one of the worst attacks on her person, she still sent out Hope. Even when fear should have been winning, she tried to make things Better. More inclusive – even for selfish reason – her message was about Building and Growing. In that, I would like to see more April in the world.

(Checked out through the local library system as an eBook. Vivat local libraries!)