An Absolutely Remarkable Thing |At a glance
Author: Hank Green
Publisher: Dutton on September 25, 2018
Genre: Sci-fi, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy
Goodreads Rating: 4.2 out of 5 Stars
After I finished reading my September Book of the Month pick, Cross Her Heart (see my review here) I decided I needed to read a ‘scary’ book to get into the Halloween spirit a bit more. Since I have an extremely overactive imagination, I can’t read actual scary books so I picked The Chalkman by C.J. Tudor (review to come). While, the book was not ‘hide in the freezer’ level scary nor was it Girl on a Train thriller level, the creepy aspect of the book made me really need something ‘light’ to read.
I was really torn this month when picking out my October Book of the Month pick. As mentioned, I was looking for something ‘light’ to read and was really hoping for a comedy to be among the picks. There were no comedies. Instead we got two women’s fiction authors, the usual thriller pick, a YouTuber’s debut novel, and something that gave me flashbacks to reading Moby Dick, um no thank you.
I highly considered skipping this month. I then considered just picking The Lies We Told, even though I was in no mood to read a thriller. I finally narrowed my pick down to Kate Morton’s The Clockmaker’s Daughter and An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. In a moment of weakness, I opted to have both sent to me. Ultimately, as if you couldn’t tell, I decided to read An Absolutely Remarkable Thing first, and I was unexpectedly surprised by what I read.
The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work 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–everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires–and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.
Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity, and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.
I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Even though I had read descriptions around the book and knew it to fall in the sci-fi category, I didn’t have any preconceived ideas of what this book would entail. Which undoubtedly is the best way to start reading a book anyways. That being said, let’s breakdown the good and the bad for this book.
- Con: Without dipping into too many spoilers, as I was reading this book I kept waiting for something BIG to happen. There are a lot of small things that happen but ultimately nothing monumental happens. The way the story is narrated had me believing the end of the world was near, but the most the Carls (minus a couple of instances) do nothing.
- Pro: April May is your average young working professional in New York City. She works for a startup she kind of hates, she’s broke, she has a habit of wrecking every relationship she’s in, and quite honestly she’s still trying to figure out this whole ‘Adulting’ thing. While, I’m not necessarily broke nor do I have a knack for sabotaging my own relationships, I found her to be extremely relatable throughout the entirety of the story. She knows she has flaws, and even against her better judgement she still makes mistakes. Overall, I think Green masterfully painted the typical post college mid-20 year old without straight up calling millennial lazy etc. He goes past that to help illustrate some of the struggles we go through on a daily basis, and that really helped to draw me into the story line.
- Con: I hate the name April May. Don’t ask me why, but while I find the character to be relatable I rolled my eyes at the name one to many times. separately, April or May as a name are great, just not together. It doesn’t take a whole lot away from the story line but I just don’t like it.
- Pro: I really enjoyed all the fame references in the story. Green illustrates the different levels of fame and tries to highlight the varies positives and negatives associated with both. The way he is educating you on the forms/types of fame while still embedding them into the story was great.
- Con: This book is part of a series! I detest starting a series without all the books being out and available for me to read. This is a major pet peeve of mine, and I had no idea this was a series when I picked the book. There is no anticipated date for the Book 2, it doesn’t even have a published working title. This alone kills this book for me!
- Pro: The concept of the story is interesting. The Carls, as they’re known, is really just one giant robot thing that does basically nothing for 2/3rds of the story. But Green’s representation of how the world sensationalize things, stories, ideas, etc is spot on.
- Con: This book is supposed to be a sci-fi book, and while technically it is, I needed more. Yes the Carls are ‘aliens’ but take the Carls out of the story, replacing them with say a scientist discovering a new species of bug or say Pokemon Go, and you’ve basically got the same story. Maybe this will be addressed in future books but I really needed more from the story.
- Con/Pro: Normally the supporting characters are bit harder to relate to or at least harder to ‘get to know’. I enjoyed the variety of different characters presented to us. They all have their own quirks and unique personalities. I only wish they would have been flushed out more, or we would have seen a little bit more of them throughout the story.
- Pro: If you read this book, you will fly through it. If you are a fast reader, you can read this in one sitting, no problem. It is an easy, fun, and quirky read.
- Con: The ending, while written well, got me. I don’t like it. There are no answers, similar to fame, it just ends.
I know the list above has more Cons than Pros but I really did enjoy this book. My biggest complaint is just I needed more from the story. Halfway through the book, a little voice in the back of my head said, ‘what is the point of this book, there is literally nothing happening?’ But even though I had that thought, if I hadn’t known that this book was labeled as a science fiction, I probably would not had had the thought in the first place. Maybe the next book in the series will clear some of those items up. Maybe it will dive deeper into the sci-fi genre. Who knows. Hopefully we won’t have to wait too terribly long for the sequel, as I am pumped to read it. Get yourself ready for the sequel though by picking up An Abosultely Remarkable Thing here.
Happy Reading Folks!
What is Book of the Month?
For those who haven’t heard of Book of the Month club or BOTM, it is a subscription program, similar to audible or other box subscription services, where you get (you guessed it) a new book every month. Each month members are given 5 different books to choose from. BOTM generally focusing on debut and emerging writers, and is known for having helped launch the careers of some of the most acclaimed authors in American literary history. In an attempt to read more books outside my favorite genres without having to siphon through all the duds, I decided to sign up for the monthly subscriptions. It costs me $14.99 per month, I choose 1 of the 5 books on the first of every month, and it’s delivered straight to my door. You can skip any month or roll your credits over to the next month, at any time. Since I started getting BOTM back in February, I’ve really enjoyed some of the new authors I’ve been exposed to. I’ve enjoyed them so much, that I have decided to review each of the books I get every month, so be on the look out for reviews March – August, which are coming soon. If you’re interested in joining BOTM, I’ve add my referral code to the bottom of this post, which if you use, you’ll be able to get your first month (book) free!
Interested in joining Book of the Month? Get a free book when you join using my referral link.