Book review: ‘An Absolutely Remarkable Thing’
By: Lea Killian
On Sep. 25, 2018, Hank Green released his debut novel, “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing.”
The novel tells story about a young woman who unintentionally acquires global internet fame unlike the world has ever seen, while also learning how to deal with dire consequences.
This story is no doubt inspired by his own experiences, as Green is no stranger to internet fame.
He shared a YouTube channel, “Vlogbrothers” with his brother John Green since 2007.
They are both hugely successful as authors, podcasters and YouTubers.
While the subject of addictive qualities of social media and the problematic attributes of internet fame may be a tiring topic to discuss in today’s climate, Green has managed to tackle the issue with an entirely unique perspective that compels readers right from the start.
The novel begins by introducing the main character, April May, a recent art school graduate who is sorely trying to make ends meet by working at a startup company in Manhattan.
Walking down the street late in the evening, April flits right past a ten-foot tall samurai robot statue. Chalking it up to spontaneous New York street art, she continues onward.
She only takes a few steps when she catches her mistake.
Not wanting the fast-paced, unbothered New York life to claim the best of her, she turns back to marvel at the statue.
Realizing its genuine enormity and magnificence she decides to call her friend Andy, an amateur YouTuber and podcaster, to see if he might want to film the statue.
Even though it is three in the morning, Andy arrives with his camera gear — ready to go. Positioning herself in front of the newly nicknamed statue Carl, April waits for Andy’s cue.
“‘K, I’m rolling,’ you’ve heard Andy say those words if you’re a human who’s ever been near enough to an internet connection to hear them. Whether or not you speak English. Whether or not you’ve ever owned an electronic device in your life. If you’re a Chinese billionaire or a Kiwi sheep farmer, you’ve heard it. Militant rebels in Nepal have heard it. It’s the most viewed piece of media of all time.”
With that, their world, and humanity itself, changes forever.
April wakes up the next day with hundreds of emails, phone calls and texts. In sixty-four cities across the globe, Carls have appeared in the streets.
With no video footage of their arrival, or any explanation whatsoever, April and Andy soon realize that they are the first people to make contact with the Carls.
Suddenly thrown into an undesired international spotlight, April finds herself making decisions for all of humankind.
The media begins to look to her for answers and she finds herself comfortable providing them —unaware of the consequences, sharing her opinions on what the Carls are, why they came and what exactly they want.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing elements of this story is how it shows readers what happens when humankind finds itself inexplicably tied to one another in ways that are frighteningly unfamiliar.
Further, it explores humanity at its most vulnerable and expertly reveals the dark underbelly of fame.
Riddled with his unique brand of humor, relevance and modernity, Green’s debut novel, “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing,” is a wholly lovable and thought-provoking book that will leave readers feeling haunted, humbled and dying for more.