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Thursday, Jun 20, 2024
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Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

Photo provided by Wikipedia Commons.
Photo provided by Wikipedia Commons.

A ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a Samurai suit suddenly shows up in major cities around the world. Large-scale art installation or something else? The intriguing statue, later to be nicknamed Carl, prompts 23-year-old April May to take a harmless YouTube video of it. And then things get really weird.

When April does some private sleuthing to determine what the Carls actually are, it becomes clear that the entire world is wrapped up in him, somehow. Suddenly April and her discoveries are mega-famous, and not for all the right reasons.  

Hank Green’s debut novel, “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing,” is a read that you are guaranteed to remember. For starters, its plot is complex and unique. Green pulls from Sci-Fi, politics, H.P. Lovecraft, music and internet culture to craft a storyline that keeps you detached from reality and simultaneously very much in it.

April’s quest for answers, which soon becomes a quest for fame and significance, is relevant in today’s world of stardom, which exists largely online.

Green has had his own share of the spotlight, as one half of the 11-year-strong Vlogbrothers YouTube Channel and the creator and host of online content like Crash Course and SciShow. His brother, John Green, is an acclaimed young adult author of novels such as “Looking For Alaska” and “Turtles All The Way Down.” Such relation beckons the question: how do their novels compare?

And honestly, what is there to compare? As a fan of both brothers and simply a lover of books, I think what both have written has value and merit in their own ways. “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing” is so vastly different from anything John Green has written; it would be like comparing apples with oranges.

The book isn’t perfect—its protagonist can come off as cliché, though April isn’t one-dimensional by any means. Sometimes her narration is overkill and delays the plot advancement-- super annoying when you’re in the middle of a juicy bit!

While being hilarious and entertaining, the novel asks (and tries to answer) some important questions about our culture. What do we value in our idols? What do we give up for the sake of attention? Why are we so divisive? And, most importantly, what the heck is Carl?

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