the Little Red Reviewer

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Posted on: November 18, 2020

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, by Hank Green

published in 2018

where I got it: the library

It’s been a year of reading important books, and important news, hasn’t it?

Yeah, nothing my brain rebels more against than being told I have to to do something. Also, well, 2020.  I don’t think any of us have reached our reading aspirations this year.

And we should be kinder to ourselves.

The best thing I did for my mental health in the last 6 months was go to the library.  The why behind that is a long story.  But I purposely got books that weren’t important. I purposely got books that had nothing to do with the year 2020.

One of the books I got was An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, which some friends at work had been raving over since it came out in 2018.  As it turned out, this book, that was on a random shelf, in a random library aisle, was remarkably exactly what I needed.

The book was a ridiculously fast read, buckets of rapid speed dialog, all the mundane moments skipped with paragraphs that started with “later that evening” or “two days later”.   If you are looking for quiet moments of contemplation, and deep character studies, this is not the book for you.  You know those one season Netflix shows that seem to cram 4 seasons of stuff into 8 episodes, and the wrap up is a call back to the opening scenes and then you want to watch the entire thing over again and it was the perfect escape, which is why we love Netflix? (Russian Doll, looking at you!) This book is very much like that.

The author, Hank Green, seems to have had buckets of fun writing this!  And i don’t know if it was the mood I was in when i read it, or if Green likes a lot of the same things I like, but I kept getting half sorta easter eggs,  which aren’t spoilers.  I was reading a fun book, and it was reminding me of other fun tv shows and movies that I liked, and that only added to my enjoyment, is what I mean.

Ready for a tornado of action? Let’s go!

20-something April is heading home late at night, when she sees a weird robot sculpture in the middle of the sidewalk. She texts her best bud Andy, and the two of them do a silly YouTube video about the robot. By the time April wakes up the next morning, the video has gone viral, because it turns out that 63 other robot sculptures showed up in cities all over the world and she and Andy were the first to mention it online.   is the robot sculpture a piece of performance art? a prank? is it from outer space?

Before she realizes what is happening, April is internet-famous.  With Kardashian levels of twitter followers and appointments on late night talk shows she’s never heard of, this is every 20-something’s dream come true, right?  Later in the book, April is able to admit that she got addicted to the attention.  Even when the haters are rampant online, she can’t stop being glued to the internet because she is addicted to the attention.

And then the dreams start.  Through dream, the robots, now called Carls, are giving us puzzles to solve.  I freakin’ LOVED the internet forums and subreddits that are just a bunch of strangers helping each other figure out the puzzles! The only way to solve them is to work together! (Anyone else getting Arrival vibes?).   There’s also a code that can be translated into vector images (oh, hello Contact?).

Things move very, very fast, and now April has an agent who brokers her book deal and TV show appearances, and give her a personal assistant named Robin, who i’m sorry, I kept calling him Judah because that’s who he reminded me of.  Poor April, one of these days she’s going to have to deal with the shitty way she treated Maya and deal with that she finds Robin very attractive. Eh, she can push all those feelings aside while she tweets and doomscrolls through people who hate her, right?  She is a master of denial and avoidance.

my brain: This is Robin, and he’ll get you whatever you need, even if it’s 4am.

Andy and April (and April’s on again off again girlfriend Maya) do everything they can to keep April grounded. They knew her before she was famous, so they can tell her to shut up because she’s being petty and stupid. And she does do plenty of dumb stuff, because . . .  FAME! And attention!

This book feels like it is ALL action ALL the time, which made the dream sequences so nice. In the dream, it’s just you.  You’re in a city, and you can explore. You can walk down the road, go into buildings, go out into the fields if you want. As the puzzles got more ornate, they reminded me of that Myst computer game I played to death (and never won) when I was a kid.

my brain: This is Maya and she will kick your ass when you need an ass kicking.

At times, I found April very annoying,  because she never sits still, she’s self-centered, she never listens to the people who care about her. If I was 23 and suddenly internet famous, would I do the same dumb stuff that she did? Ummm . . maybe?   There is some dumb stuff that she does that feels very plot-devicy, which was it’s own brand of annoying. But hey, this was Green’s debut novel, so i should be forgiving.

What I liked about this book was that it was exactly the escapism I was craving. It had a ton of stuff that reminded me of other escapism stuff.  While I was reading it I was thinking about Carl Sagan’s Contact, I was thinking about Bojack Horseman, I was thinking about How To Get Away With Murder, all these other things that my brain also reads as escapism.

Thank you random aisle in the library for giving me the double dose of escapism that I so desperately needed right now.  Escapism is an absolutely remarkable thing.

4 Responses to "An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green"

I somehow did not connect with the book (and the main character at all). I too finished the book last weekend and found it lacking. April is in her 20s but behaves like a teen – and that last scene (spoiler alert) – why couldn’t they put signal jammers after April was lured and stop her from live streaming

Liked by 1 person

Yeah, i too struggled to connect with April, she does some really questionable stuff.

I can easily see how people would bounce right off this book, and be turned off by April. I lucked out, i was really in the mood for something zany and over the top and absolutely ridiculous, and this was all of those things.

Like

It is! And I’ve never been so grateful for the worlds inside books as I have been this year.
This sounds like heaps of fun. And, hell, I need to know what the Carls are all about! 😁

Liked by 1 person

I read the book and I still need to know what the Carls are all about! I just found out the author has another book out (coming soon? just released? i don’t remember), and maybe it’s a sequel to this one, and we’ll get to learn more about the Carls. I’d love to read this book, but from someone else’s perspective, maybe from someone in another country who lives near their local Carl.

lol, “their local Carl”, what is this, a fast food place?

Liked by 1 person

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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