An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Summary:
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. 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 social media is changing fame, rhetoric, and radicalization; how our culture deals with fear and uncertainty; and how vilification and adoration spring from 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 a
Review:
I’m going to start off by saying that I am without a doubt 100% (probably more) a total fangirl when it comes to the Green Brothers. Whether it be Hank or John, I will read ALL their books and watch ALL their videos. I have been watching VlogBrothers since they were Brotherhood 2.0 only communicating to one another via YouTube videos. So when I found out that Hank Green was writing/had written a book, I quite literally screamed out loud. I knew I would buy it and love it. I even preordered it through Waterstones (which is in the UK and I live in the US) because they were the first that I saw to announce they had signed copies). I ALSO bought the Barnes and Nobel special edition because I participated in the book club where this book was chosen. To read about that click here!
Okay, now to talk about the actual book. This is considered an ‘adult contemporary’ novel, but it definitely has some science-fictiony aspects to it. I’m not going to say anything more about that for fear of giving spoilers. I knew I would like this story, but I actually surprised myself by absolutely loving it. It had me laughing out loud and even shedding a tear or two.
April May is our main character and our narrator. She’s telling us the story in the first person as if she’s actually speaking to us and telling us the story. (This is one of my favorite kinds of narrators.) So we get the story as April May experienced it with little tidbits of what she knows or how she feels now. April was honestly so fricking relatable. There were definitely some times where I said, woooah what did you do that for? But more often than not I found myself saying, yup I’ve been there I understand where that’s coming from. She’s a character with countless flaws but she recognizes each and every one of said flaws. She knows she’s not perfect but keeps moving forward anyway. She’s very critical of herself, something that most people can relate to. With a tendency toward self-destructive behavior, she acknowledges what she could or should have done differently but knows she can’t change the past. Even when she got a bit too intense I liked her because she’s also funny and genuinely entertaining. She was a relatable kind of girl and I love characters I can relate to.

I Have No Idea Why I Can’t Ever Shut The Fuck Up: The April May Story.”

Andy was a great supporting character. I came to see him as April May’s sidekick of sorts that after a certain point was just along for the ride. He was a better friend than April might have deserved. He was there when she needed him even when she was kind of being a jerk. I liked how down to earth and just genuinely excited Andy got about everything happening.

“Just because someone has power over you doesn’t mean they’re going to use it to hurt you.”

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing was such an interesting and unique story I couldn’t put it down. I actually waited until a month after it was released to read it because I needed to make sure I could read it in one sitting and not be disturbed by my newborn baby. So after putting the baby to sleep, I spent five hours on my couch fllyyying through this story. I loved the perspective because I feel like it was almost like we were getting to know what Hank goes through being a well known YouTuber. (Obviously not to the extent of April May, but a sense of what his life is like.) I could just feel how parts of this story came right from Hanks real life experiences. I thought that was awesome. It’s such a unique perspective, one that so few people have, so it was cool to learn about it.

“The power that each of us has over complete strangers to make them feel terrible and frightened and weak is amazing.”

One of the best things about this book was all of the serious and relevant topics it hit on. Now, I’m going to say right now that I’m a straight white female that grew up in a middle-class family so, I am not the right person to be judging if these portrayals were accurate, but I mention them anyway because they were certainly thought-provoking to me. There’s discussion about race, sexuality and sexual preference, terrorism, cyberbullying, so many things that are constantly being discussed in today’s world. Hank’s characters were diverse and interesting. They were flawed and so realistic. They talked about real-world problems in real ways that made me seriously think about these issues.

“This is what humanity is, solidarity in the face of fear. Hope in the face of destruction.”

The last thing I want to mention is that while yes this is technically an adult novel. I definitely think some readers on the high end of young adults could read this and enjoy it. Those readers that are about to enter adulthood could definitely read and learn from this book because the worse thing is really the extensive swearing (but cmon what 15-18-year-old doesn’t swear, I know I did.)
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a new favorite of mine for sure. I will be reading this book many times in the future. I loved everything about this story. I loved all the twists and turns. I loved every surprise. This was a well written, creative and funny story that I would love to recommend to anyone.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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B&N Book Club – October

Hi book friends, Amanda here.

Today I’m going to share with you my first Barnes and Nobel Book Club adventure!

This month’s book club book is An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green. When I found out this was the book I knew I had to participate because I’m a die-hard fan of the Green brothers.

I also decided to participate because I’ve recently moved and I’m interested in attempting to make some bookish friends that I can hang out with in real life instead of just over the internet. In a perfect world, all my internet friends would live close to me, but we sadly don’t live in a perfect world.

So I’m writing this post the morning before book club and I will add more after I have attended the meetup tonight at seven pm! I binge read the book, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (AART), last night because I let myself get distracted all month. I’m a huge procrastinator so this is pretty typical for me. I was mostly waiting for a solid block of time to spend with the story and characters.

Here are a few thoughts I had while reading this book:

“Wow, hitting on all the relevant topics.”
“I can’t stop reading parts in Hank’s voice because I totally adore him.”
“I love that April can recognize that she is flawed and imperfect. She acknowledges that sometimes her motivations were selfish and shitty.”
“Yaaas, NaNoWriMo!”
“I wonder if April May talking about writing and book events are ideas that he asked John about or learned while booktouring with John.”
“WHAT WAS THAT ENDING. HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO US HANK?!”

I wrote down quite a few more thoughts, but those will likely be included in my review which I will write after the book club meet up!

So, I’m super excited for my first time attending a book club. I’m not totally sure what to expect, but I’m happy to be doing something I’ve never done before.

The Next Day – 

Hi Friends! It’s now Thursday and I was too sleepy to finish this post last night. So I’m here with some coffee and ready to tell you all about the wonderful time I had last night.

Driving to book club, I was super nervous and anxious mostly because I didn’t know what to expect. I was worried that I would be the only younger person there. I was also worried that I would be the only one to show up.

All of these worries were washed away as soon as I sat down in the circle of chairs that had been set up for the meeting. I showed up early (because I hate being the one that shows up late.) I made sure to have time to walk around and maybe pick out a few new books to take home. (I did. I bought Pillow Thoughts Pillow Thoughts II by Courtney Peppernell and Wonder Woman by Leigh Bardugo.) Then I walked over to the B&N Cafe (it’s NOT Starbucks!) and ordered a ridiculous Starbucks coffee (I’m a Dunkin’ Donuts girl.) I even asked the cashier if he could spell my name wrong to complete the experience (he didn’t.) I asked him for directions to where book club was happening.

Making my way through the stacks with my coffee and my new books I started to get more excited. As the circle of chairs came into my line of sight I saw that three or four of them already had people in them. So I found an empty chair and took my seat.

There was an awkward silence here and there, nothing too unusual. The B&N employee (I’m so sorry, but I can’t remember her name.) showed up and we all had some casual conversation while we waited for it to be 7pm. We wanted to allow a little bit of time for any last minute stragglers. (Good thing we did because there was a handful of people that came right at or right after seven.)

We all introduced ourselves and added whether or not we enjoyed the book. I think I liked it the best out of everyone. Some didn’t like it at all, some thought it was alright, and some just liked it. I was definitely a little disappointed that the others didn’t love it as much as I did but to each their own.

It didn’t take long for us to get right into it. Barnes and Nobel provided us with some interesting discussion questions that we mostly disregarded after they were read to us and went off on our own tangents. Most of this meeting was spent with the four younger (ish) members explaining various things about social media and being YouTube famous and things like this. It was interesting seeing the difference in knowledge and understanding between the age differences. We spent a lot of time answering questions about the difference between traditionally famous people (sports players, actors/actresses, etc.) and internet famous people. (READ- famous for doing a job vs. famous for being themselves was what we decided the difference was.)

Overall, I had SO much fun. I laughed a lot. I talked a lot. I learned a lot. I will definitely be continuing to participate in this book club. I’m actually going to try to find another one because sadly the B&N book club isn’t as regular as I’d like.

The things I didn’t like:

  1. I left without finding out what the next book choice is going to be (not because I left early, but because there isn’t a specifically determined time for the next book/meeting.)
  2. (See above) – There is not an announced time for the next meeting or even a book chosen. WHY BARNES AND NOBEL WHY? (Supposedly because of the holidays, but I think the holidays are some of my favorite times to read. So lame excuse B&N.)
  3. This isn’t a regular thing. I guess I just assumed that this was a monthly book club. But they have had three meetings since May. So disappointing.

This is all I’ve got for things I didn’t like. Basically, I didn’t like that this doesn’t happen more frequently. Other than this I loved it. I had so much fun talking about a book I enjoyed by an author I love with people I didn’t know.

I am definitely looking forward to whatever book is chosen next! Did anyone else join the Barnes and Nobel Book Club? What did you think of An Absolutely Remarkable Thing?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.