Published: Dutton, 2018
Genre: Sci-fi, contemporary
My rating: 3/5 stars
Description: “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
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.” (Goodreads)
Why I picked it up:
I was skeptical about picking this up when it was first announced. I thought the premise sounded interesting, but honestly I had my doubts about whether or not I would actually like it. I’ll admit I’m more tentative with buying books that are written by people who are already well-known, as it’s easy to sell a book that’s not so great by slapping the name of a famous Youtuber on it (we all know this). I didn’t want to buy the book just because it had Hank Green’s name on it, so I waited for the reviews to come in. After hearing a lot of great things and it being heavily recommended by an old book club friend of mine, I finally decided to take the dive and pick it up.
I wanted so much to really love this book, but I really think I was right to have my doubts going in. I ended up finding this book massively disappointing for a number of reasons. I think that the summary is slightly misleading, April was not a likable main character, and, to be the most honest, nothing happened in this book. However, before getting into all that, there were a few things that I did really like about this book.
aspect of this book I found totally unique and fun were the Dream Sequence
puzzles. It reminded me a bit of Ready
Player One in that everyone in the world was able to access these puzzles
and work together to solve them. Though they accessed them via a dream rather
than VR, they still used the internet, forums, and chats to offer their info
and help solve them. Not only was it fun to read about how they solved the
puzzles, but I also thought that, in a book that about internet culture at it’s
heart, this was a great way to portray a positive aspect of internet culture in
a sea of negatives that the book also covers.
also really liked the side characters, mostly Andy, Maya, and Miranda. I
thought it was great the way their different personalities and interests (Andy
being the YouTube sort of guy, the content creator; Maya being smart and mature
but also totally wicked at solving the Dream Sequence puzzles; Miranda and her
science and tech-y knowledge, and also cute nerdiness) all came together to
accomplish both getting more information about the Carls and also help April’s
growing internet fame. I also found the three of them much more likable than
bad guys, the group constantly trying to discredit April and prove the Carls
were dangerous, were annoying but powerful. There were definitely moments where
I was afraid they would win, which is the mark of the best written bad guys, if
you ask me. I also found this to be a great way of showing yet another aspect
of internet culture, the good vs bad, this or that political arguments we see
blooming all over the internet constantly.
the topic of internet culture, which I’ve mentioned a few times so far, I will
say I found the summary of the book to be misleading. This isn’t a critique of
Green’s writing, and may not even be a critique of the way the publisher
marketed the book, because I have been known to overlook details and see things
in a way that’s, well, off. But reading the summary and things about the book
before reading it myself, I thought it would be about April and her handling
the Carls. I thought it would be about alien visitors and trying to solve their
mystery with a side dish of maneuvering internet fame. It was vice versa – all
about April navigating her growing internet fame with a side dish of trying to
crack the case of the Carls. I was definitely more interested in the alien
aspect, so this was a pretty disappointing factor for me – however, I think
this is partially, if not fully, my fault for not doing proper research (and
therefore having proper expectations) of the book before reading it.
being said, I did find the book, overall, very boring. I think this is in part
because I was more interested with the aliens than April navigating internet
fame, but I didn’t feel like very much actually happened in the book. I felt
like it was mostly April switching between complaining that being Internet Famous
was so hard, and also being viciously selfish as she tried to become yet even
more famous. There were more of her inner thoughts, monologues, and complaints
than there were events and actions.
think this is the main reason I never grew to like April. I did like her at the
beginning, because I love a female character who does not put up with anyone’s
crap and does things her own way. But her constant complaining, selfishness,
and often outright cruelty took away from this. Because of the way the book
ended (which I won’t get into to avoid spoilers) I don’t feel like she ever
overcame this or it was really handled properly. Instead of being part of her
arc she stayed, throughout the whole book, pretty awful.
also did want to quickly mention that bisexuality was handled very poorly int
his book, which was a very deep knife for me as a bi reader. I understand
(don’t agree with, but understand) why April agreed to lie and say she wasn’t
bi when she was trying to gain more followers and more fame only because I know
that being bi is often not accepted both by straight people and queer people,
and it can be scary to be open with it, especially with strangers. But this was
later used against her in the book, and then never fully addressed as a
situation. She agreed to lie, had it used against her as a weapon, and that was
it; it was never really talked about again. I really feel like it was used as a
plot device rather than an aspect of her character, and that was ostracizing,
and a little hurtful, to me as a bi reader.
I sadly found this book quite disappointing. I had such high expectations after
reading reviews and I was definitely let down. Upon doing research on An Absolutely Remarkable Thing to write
this review, I did discover that there is apparently a sequel in the works.
Perhaps this one will be better, or resolve some of the issues I had with the
Do you plan on reading the An Absolutely Remarkable Thing sequel? Let me your thoughts!
“Now, of course, I know how easy it is to feel like you don’t matter if no one’s watching.”
Buy the book: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Thriftbooks
Thanks for reading!
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