An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
Updated: Feb 14, 2020
Summary: April May is the first human to make contact with an alien statue and instantly gains world-wide notoriety. As she tries to stay in the limelight she puts her relationships, friendships, and lives in danger.
Review: I was a bit overly excited about this book when it popped up on Book of the Month Club's picks. As a huge fan and binge watcher of Crash Course, I really looked forward to a book by Hank Green. It also sounded like an interesting premise. Sci-fi and social commentary about social media? Count me in!
Therefore, you can imagine my dismay when I picked it up and immediately didn't like it. Now you may be thinking, "Hold the phone! But you gave it four stars!" Well, just hold your horses.
Yes, I did not like the first few chapters. I particularly didn't like April May, even if we both are bisexual graphic designers with an art school friend named Andy and a habit of sabotaging relationships before they can become too serious.
Perhaps it was just her first-person narration style that irritated me. It was set up as though the reader lived in the same dimensional plane/time as the narrator and knew what was going to happen next, which often felt patronizing.
She also felt flip-floppy as someone who starts as an artsy girl who appreciates fine art and doesn't want to be on camera to creating her brand persona practically overnight. And the YouTube video that changed everything didn't seem anything viral-worthy. First doesn't always equal most popular.
Even by the end, I wasn't a huge fan of her. I liked her slightly more for her faults and attempts to bring humanity together, but her continued selfishness was so counterintuitive that it was almost irritating. I felt torn between rooting for her and wanting to punch her in the face.
Plus, Call Me Maybe being one of the best songs? Come on now. We couldn't leave that at Queen?
The rest, though, I really loved. The idea of alien statues that defy physics, dreams that involve codes that humanity has to work together to solve, social commentary on social media and extremism, it was all right up my alley.
After I got over my distaste of April May, I was sucked into what would happen next. What was the purpose of Carl? Would humans prevail? Would Carl come to life and tell humanity the purpose for life and everything...or better yet the question to 42?
And I have many more questions even about choices in the book. Like why have magicians introduced and then they just - poof - disappear...almost like a magician! Was that a link to something, a random tangent, or just all that remains of a semi-forgotten plot point that ended up getting cut in the editorial process?
Well, I won't spoil what does or does not happen, but I am looking forward to a sequel. But, maybe not from April's perspective?
Overall, it is a really great Sci-Fi mystery that makes you question if we are alone and what could happen if we meet other life...or at least have a female president.