Monday, March 11, 2019

Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Title: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing 
Series: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing #1
Written by: Hank Green
Published: September 25, 2018 by Dutton (Penguin Group)

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: In his much-anticipated debut novel, Hank Green—co-creator of Crash Course, Vlogbrothers, and SciShow—spins 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 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.

Not really what I was expecting but an enjoyable read. I enjoy Hank Green’s YouTube videos and I find him a thoughtful and intelligent person so I was interested to read a book he wrote. It turned out to be a compelling story.

I listened to the audiobook and it was the perfect format. This is one of those books with such a distinct voice that you can fall into the character’s world and personality while you are listening to the audio. The narrator did a great job with developing April May and bringing here to life.

This book also had some really interesting themes that are incredibly topical, but it told them through an interesting lens. Part of this book is about internet fame and how a person can get so wrapped up in their persona and portraying something to and for their audience. I really enjoyed this theme and I wish the book had went into a little more depth on the concept, allowing for more character growth throughout the story. It was one of the more interesting and complex parts of the book for me, but it was almost just taken at face value and I wish it went deeper.

But instead of delving deeper into this theme, instead it explored the fear and fervor that people can whip others into on the internet. It became as much about 24 hour news cycle, political pundits and how they can create this divide amongst people who see the people who disagree with them as the enemy. But again, Hank did this in a subtle way through the lens of these robots. The “Carls” could be an allegory for any number of current political events because of the way they made people respond was so honest and realistic that the social commentary was evident and interesting.

Speaking of the Carls, that was the aspect of the story I wasn’t really expecting. This book was much of a science fiction story than I was expecting. It had definite Ready Player One vibes not only because of it’s discussion of the online world. No, there was also the mystery and race to reveal the secrets of the dream that felt very reminiscent of that book. And while I really enjoyed this aspect of the story as well, I found it kind of lacking. I think however that was because I thought this was a stand-alone. I wanted answers to my questions and this book didn’t give those to me. But there is a sequel coming so hopefully I will get some answers then.

All in all this was an engaging and compulsively readable book. I flew through it and really enjoyed not only the science fiction plot but the complex themes about the internet and society. It wasn’t perfect but it was an engaging debut.

I give An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green 8 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. I really enjoyed this book and I definitely recommend you pick this up from the library if you enjoy Hank Green or are looking for a fast and unique read.

Have you read An Absolutely Remarkable Thing? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I feel much better about this book now I know there's going to be a sequel!

  2. I agree. It’s far from perfect, but I’m interested enough in the plot to read the next book. Great review!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!