This is one of those books where I feel the need to begin with a disclaimer: I am probably not the intended audience for this book. While I am aware that Hank and his brother John, do in fact, technically exist, my knowledge of them doesn’t extend far beyond that. I don’t watch their youtube videos, don’t read John’s books, and don’t really interact with them in any way. Also, in a world where I, and I alone, selected all the books I read, I probably wouldn’t have chosen An Absolutely Remarkable Thing.
But, the new release by Hank Green was my wife’s book pick for our April book club, so here I am.
I would say that this story is very distinctly about two things: the appearance of a group of statues around the world known as the Carls, and a commentary on modern internet culture and fame.
As a reader, one of these stories is interesting to me. The other one is not.
To come to the book’s defense, the Carls, and the mystery surrounding them, is really interesting and really well done. Hank came up with a number of really interesting ideas here, and for me, the sections dealing specifically with this mystery flew by for me.
However, it felt as if most of the book was about April May, a fairly unlikeable and sarcastic protagonist who becomes internet famous (and then just famous) as a result of the Carls. I had no problems with April. I don’t mind unlikeable or sarcastic. There are a number of insightful comments about our culture and the internet here, and I think that if a reader was interested in that conversation, they’d find those pages immensely rewarding.
I did not.
Although I’m tempted to get into spoiler-y territory, I will not. I will only say that even though I now know this is only the first book in a series, I personally didn’t feel that either April’s character arc or the mystery of the Carls was resolved to such a point that I was satisfied.
In the end, I suspect if you’re already a fan of Hank Green, you’ll probably enjoy his foray into writing. Although I don’t watch his videos, my wife tells me a lot of his voice comes out in these books. If you’re looking for a sci-fi/contemporary fiction mash-up, this could also be a place to start. But if you’re really looking for a more sci-fi story, I might suggest looking elsewhere.