“An Absolutely Remarkable Thing” Review


Hank Green aims to astound and amaze with his debut novel An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. The narrator, April May, is a college grad working long nights at a small graphic design company. April stumbles through many strange happenings in this book such as; relationship troubles, contagious dreams, and phone calls with the President  she acts as if that’s been her normal life since forever on the outside, but she doesn’t retain her cool as much during her internal dialogue. She is joined by her friends, Andy Skampt (a fellow graduate), Robin (her assistant), Miranda Beckwith (a materials scientist at UC Berkeley), and Maya (her fellow graduate and girlfriend). Each character is eventually introduced to the audience through April’s trademark false confidence. When talking about her relationship with Maya she said, “I just can’t imagine asking Maya to move in with me. It’s like imagining dropping a penny through a lead brick.” Though, as the book progresses, the reader begins to sympathize with both the characters and her false confidence. Each of the characters have a strong personality without falling into archetypes and every reader should be able to find a favorite among them.

 One night, April is returning home from a long session of coding vectors and finds herself passing an unfamiliar statue that she has never seen before. New York being New York, she almost passes it without a second thought, but she turns back and calls her friend, Andy, with the intention of recording a report on the statue for Andy’s startup YouTube channel. After one semi-awkward video with a statue, which April had decidedly named Carl, they pack up and go back to their apartments. Low and behold, it gets over a million views overnight. While it doesn’t go viral because of amazing camera work or for excellent reporting, it does go viral because the same exact statue has suddenly been spotted in 64 places all around the world. From the Bay Area to Beijing these statues are standing silently, and with no one claiming to be the artist of the Carls and the impossibility of their installment without a crane, the mystery grows weirder and weirder every day. Whoever is the culprit also had to have access to advanced technology – all of the security cameras where the Carls now stand were knocked out for a few minutes. In those few minutes the statue was installed. The only clue from the cameras being faint static noise that clearly resembles Queen’s hit song Don’t Stop Me Now, if you listen hard enough. No proclaimed artist, 64 simultaneous impossible installations, and disabled security cameras? As the world struggles to find out where these statues came from, April May gains the attention of the public as the first person to report on the Carls.

Students might recognize the author Hank Green from his fast-talking in SciShow or in certain CrashCourse branches, such as CrashCourse Psychology. Green explores themes of fame and the depersonalization that comes along with it through his main character. In an interview with Hypable, Green expanded on how his main character views herself, “I think that ultimately April sees herself as a tool.” He portrays this line of thinking well, for example, April refers to herself in the third-person occasionally. Green also spoke about how much he had learned about fame and sympathy from writing April, “I got a lot more sympathetic to other people who have my job who I feel like don’t do it the right way. Who I felt like, “Oh, you need to do it the right way.” I got a lot more sympathetic. I kind of got to experience it through another person’s eyes.” Green certainly does a great job of making the reader feel the same sympathy for April and her struggle with sudden fame. Sympathy towards the characters transforms into sympathy for real people when you set the book down and take a look at how the world treats our famous people. 

Overall, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a well-detailed and thought out book that captures the reader in a whirlwind of news headlines and internet sleuthing. And if you find yourself enraptured in this book -good news- the sequel, A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor came out this July, so you can avoid a book hangover for at least a little while longer. 

As a warning, this book does contain some violence and short sexual situations. The book warns in some, but not all chapters that contain violence.