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The Carls #1

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

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The Carls just appeared.

Roaming through New York City at three AM, 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 best 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 media spotlight.

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.

343 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 25, 2018

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About the author

Hank Green

8 books10.5k followers
Hank Green started making YouTube videos in 2007 with his brother, John. They thought it was a dumb idea, but it turned out well. He is now the CEO of Complexly, which produces SciShow, Crash Course and nearly a dozen other educational YouTube channels, prompting The Washington Post to name him "one of America's most popular science teachers." Green co-founded a number of other businesses, including DFTBA.com, which helps online creators make money by selling cool stuff to their communities; and VidCon, the world's largest conference for the online video community. Hank and John, also started the Project for Awesome, which raised more than two million dollars for charities last year. He has written for a variety of publications, including The New York Times, Scientific American, and Mental Floss Magazine prior to his first published novel, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, due out on Sept 25, 2018.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 16,241 reviews
Profile Image for Tucker  (TuckerTheReader).
908 reviews1,598 followers
December 1, 2020
Publisher: So Hank you want to write a book?
Hank: Yes, my brother wrote a bunch which means that I can too!
Publisher: What do you want it to be about.
Hank: I want to write a book about aliens.
Publisher: So like the 5th wave.
Hank: Kind of but let's remove all the violent parts.
Publisher: So like E.T.?
Hank: The alien won't actually talk or interact with the humans. Oh, and he won't be a living thing. He'll just be a big hunk of metal but we'll call him an alien.
Publisher: What about the main character?
Hank: So she'll discover the alien and then make a video about it which will go viral but let's make the main character super awkward and cringey.
Hank: Also, our main character will be bisexual so we can call our book diverse without actually going into the subject at all.
Hank: And we will have a love triangle. And a butler.
Publisher: Well, usually readers hate love triangles but it doesn't really matter because whatever you write will sell because your famous.
Hank: Oh, and one more thing! I'm going to write it so that the reader won't be able to tell when the exposition ended and the actual story starts.
Hank: *Whispers* There actually isn't really going to be a plot just a bunch of random scenes that are boring but kind of make sense.
Publisher: Sounds great! Let's do it!
Hank: Great! I'm going to start writing.
Hank: One more thing, let's make the cover really pretty so we can trick the reader into thinking it's a good book.
Publisher: I'll have the cover department work on that!
Hank: Oh, one more random thing. Let's spell 'okay' as 'ok' and put it in all caps so it looks like the character is screaming.
Publisher: We'll call it An Absolutely Remarkable Thing which spells out AART so the readers subconsciously think this book is art.

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Profile Image for Zoë.
328 reviews66.2k followers
August 8, 2020
Original 2018 Review
I'm honestly still in shock. I went into this book quite skeptically as this is Hank Green's debut coupled with the fact that I don't tend to gravitate towards sci-fi.
This was such a whirlwind of a book! I didn't research this book before starting (which I'd recommend - just read it), so it took a little bit to get my footing in the story. After that, though WOW. Constant twists, turns, and a mystery that keeps unfolding. I simply had to keep reading to figure out what was up with Carl.
But I think my favorite aspect were the two discussions about fame as well as mistrust of change/"outsiders." The first topic was especially interesting to me as it was written by an online creator and, being one myself (though a much smaller one), I could semi-relate to it.
Despite my excitement for this story, I had to dock off a little because I felt like Hank Green's writing from a woman's perspective felt a little off. I also felt like the supporting characters could have been fleshed out more, but maybe that was purposeful as April is definitely self-centered.
Anyway, catch me first in line for the sequel!
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews153k followers
August 9, 2022
I don't know what Green injected into this book, but this stuff was impossible to put down. I think it might just be the sheer joy Hank Green palpably takes in telling this story; a story that's weird, bonkers, and sometimes downright off-putting, but which somehow just works. There's also a lot of thematic thoughtfulness at work here: under the surface is a very honest conversation about social media, the uncomfortable commodification of the self that it perpetuates, and just generally the sheer psychological damage one can sustain by just existing on the internet. There are some really sharp insights about what it means to be abruptly made internet-famous, to start measuring your self-worth on likes and comments, and inadvertently create an alternate version of yourself that can only be attained at the cost of irretrievable fragmentation between a fantasized you behind the screen and the real you who becomes more and more fictional. The ending was kind of... a mess. But all in all, this was some good stuff.
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews169k followers
October 25, 2018
WOW! This was excellent! I honestly went into it very skeptical, but I am leaving this feeling super satisfied with every aspect of this story. I'm so happy that there's going to be a sequel, because that ending left me hanging! It was the ONLY thing I wasn't satisfied with.
Profile Image for Christine Riccio.
Author 3 books101k followers
October 8, 2018
I just finished An Absolutely Remarkable Thing and it was great!! I had so much fun flying through this book. My booktalk will be coming later this week, I'm excited to discuss with yall!
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
531 reviews58.7k followers
April 14, 2019
This was actually a pretty interesting sci-fi!

I'm always reluctant to read any book with a "youtube star" because it's usually badly done but since the author does videos himself everything turned out fine.

It's a very interesting take on the whole "first contact with aliens" but also on social media.

Would recommend.
Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.2k followers
December 14, 2018
OH MAN. What a dang read. Shoot peeps. This one hit me really hard. It was one of those books where the second I finished it all I wanted to do was read it again.

So I will. Soon. And you should too.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.3k followers
March 25, 2021
Re-read 3/25/21: I honestly think I loved this book even more the second time around???????? Hank is such a gem, wow

Original read 11/1/18: Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. This was SO. GOOD. SOOOOO GOOD. I love Hank so I was really worried that I wasn’t going to love it but WOW. What a phenomenal read. I need more NOW 😫
Profile Image for Maryam Rz..
220 reviews2,655 followers
July 27, 2022
When we hear robots or aliens, we first think of war and mass destruction. That right there is, to me, science fiction’s gravest, most unforgivable crime against understanding and progress—and Hank Green agrees.

“Even on this most terrible of days, even when the worst of us are all we can think of, I am proud to be a human.”

If I want to talk about about why An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is an absolutely remarkable work of fiction, blending First Encounter, thriller, mystery, and humour with sociology and deep insights on fame and social media, I will first need to test your (I sincerely hope not limited) patience and tell you about speculative fiction.

This is based on my own limited knowledge and could contain errors: speculative fiction was originally penned to include a general category of genres such as fantasy and science fiction—you know, anything that crosses a line in the fiction area and heads towards bending reality. That is, until Robert Heinlein, in an attempt to put an end to the arguments on the actual genre of his books, declared them as speculative fiction. Consequently, now the term describes works that ask a what if question followed by an unlikely, abstract situation, and answer it with a people would respond in this way speculation.

That is exactly what Hank Green does.

“When you’re faced with something you don’t understand, I think the most natural thing but also the least interesting thing you can be is afraid.”

AART is an extremely weird (in the best way) work of speculative fiction because it takes the traditional alien + artificial intelligence Sci-Fi scenario and, even while conserving its epic and world-scale quality, breaks it down to a more realistic script through inserting it into an advanced contemporary society and asking how would a modern Earth react to stumbling across an otherworldly, static robot popping up on the street corners all over the world?

What role would celebrities, media influencers, and political pundits play in guiding the planet to choose a course of action regarding this world-changing mystery? And which path would they choose: acceptance or fear, solidarity or prejudice, peace or violence, order or chaos?

“I’m not afraid of them, I’m afraid of their fear.”

Fear, prejudice, violence, chaos...they’re all much easier than their opposites. And, I admit, the aforementioned scenario is rather scary; indeed, pee-your-pants, stay-up-all-night, everything-is-a-lie, what-has-my-life-even-been scary. So the fight for unity and understanding of the existence and role of fear in the face of uncertainty among us humans as a whole species as well as unique, seperate individuals is unequivocally worthy of discussion.

Fortunately for any fellow questioning soul, Hank, too, is interested. And his AART is a perceptive tale of facing and embracing the unknown; of accepting the people hailing from far and wide as fellow humans seperate from solitary brands and ideas. What it is, is a profoundly human tale of reality despite its (presently) unreal concept that truly does a number on your heart.

What is reality except for the things that people universally experience the same way?

Humanity, the Absolutely Remarkable Thing (ART)

“This is what humanity is, solidarity in the face of fear. Hope in the face of destruction.”

As you stroll through the streets of your life, you’d most probably glimpse pieces of art strown about you—a painting on the wall, a dress behind the glass, a statue in the corner. We all see them; a few of us barely give any a second glance; most of us pause and praise and then move ahead, forgetting in a blink; but a very rare portion stay to drink in its beauty and, no matter how far they go, they never truly leave it behind.

In the eyes of Hank Green, humanity is yet another addition to the unappreciated gems of the world, perhaps even the most important of them all; humanity is an ART, an Absolutely Remarkable Thing.

“We are each individuals, but the far greater thing is what we are together, and if that isn’t protected and cherished, we are headed to a bad place.”

Humans might be too often selfish and limited to their own tiny windows and perspectives, but that takes nothing away from the sheer neglect of humanity in itself. We might be holier-than-thou individuals that mostly consider themselves higher than animals and all other beings, but our love is centred on individuals—ourselves, a friend, a family; it’s so very rare to see love of humans as one people of Earth, to see love for a person not just because of who they are but because they are simply and beautifully human.

Human, because we feel and we fight and, however foolish, however doomed, we do not give up. Annnnd that’s enough sentimentality for one day, moving on—this book does weird things to me.

Power & Media, the Alluringly Sanctimonious Swamp (ASS)

Just because someone has power over you doesn’t mean they’re going to use it to hurt you. People who believe that tend to either be:
1. People who have been victims of that sort of behavior, or...
2. People who, if given power, will use it to hurt you.

Despite Hank’s beautiful vision, to me (as a quite cynical soul with a high endurance for sentimentality) the most absolutely remarkable thing about AART is the concepts and themes: threading the muddy waters of life and fame; the world’s tendency to be distrustful, suspicious, and hateful; the affects of social media on people and people on social media; sexuality and the struggles of being bisexual; racism and, of course, sexism.

Humans are, in short, a mess, viewing the world through one small crack, from one single angle, and judging the whole shape based on that tiny truth even as they don’t see the whole picture—or, really, the different opposing truths. So what happens if these individuals are given power?

Human beings are terrible at accepting uncertainty, so when we’re ignorant, we make assumptions based on how we imagine the world. And our guess is so obviously correct that other guesses seem, at best, willful ignorance—at worst, an attack.

Social media platforms are a place for this messed up species to interact, communicate, and make a difference. We get to be heard just as we hear. And that gives us power. Power, however, is a trickster that draws you in like a mirage, an overwhelming force that swallows you up like a swamp.

But how does it happen? Why would one succumb to its caress? And, again, what happens when an individual gains such power—a human who, like all humans, enjoys destruction more than creation because, let’s be honest, it’s both easier and more fun to watch? Where would that leave us when reasonable, considerate words are boring in their complexity and angry, offensive rants are attractive in their simplicity?

Answering these questions does make this book less a thriller and more a sociological commentary at times, but it’s wholly worth the time and effort it takes. The humour is certainly a plus. Humour is always a plus, really. The salt to meal, adding taste.

April May, the Acrimoniously Radical Brand (ARB)

“You’re a digital girl, April, in a digital world. We all know how to perform.”

April May (prepare for the crappiest joke on the face of planet earth) June July August September October November December January February March, yes, April May (okay no that’s actually the crappiest joke anywhere in the multiverse still #sorrynotsorry) is one of those initially frustrating MCs that take a long and awe-inspiring journey of development throughout the novel, swaggering from I-wanna-punch-you right up to oh-my-god-I-adore-you-you-awesome-idiot. And a core ingredient in her character development is her attempts to build an appealing image of herself for the cameras that, unknowingly, result in her ending up building herself instead of a brand.

You can only do so much pretending before you become the thing you’re pretending to be.

Okay, let’s back it up a bit. When you’re as attention-seeking, power-hungry, and control-addicted as April and happen to care so much about what people think of you, fame and the media can drag you beneath the surface of the lake faster than a freshwater crocodile.

And her sudden celebrity status drowns her so deeply that her worst traits take over the wheel and drive her right towards the cliff. Her charm and charisma allow for her ambition to bear fruit—fruits none other than the growth of her disloyal, inconsiderate, and reckless characteristics and the spread of the apathetic hole in her empathy. April is extremely smart, but also extremely stupid; one leads her to the heights of fame, one to the lowest of behaviours towards her loved ones in her fraying relationships—or lack thereof. Seeing her dynamics with her friends, family, and fans is both distressing and informative when you consider in the light of what power and attention can do to you. But “when you get stuck fighting small battles, it makes you small.”

I looked cocky, but people either love that or they love to hate it, and in the attention game (which I was playing even if I didn’t know I was), those things are equally good.

So yes, our unlikely hero screws up. But she still plays the games of power well and, in the end, she grows into a moving hurricane of a young woman. She might be voicey, but she’s hilarious. Wild as a cat and strong as a lion, she stole my cold heart. April has her own demons to fight, with as many mistakes as wise choices on her path, and that is what declares her as human.

“Behold the field in which I grow my fucks. Lay thine eyes upon it and see that it is barren.”

What makes her story most interesting though (after the part about building yourself, obviously, because I’m me and I’m obsessed with psychology, duh) is that it’s written in retrospect, with numerous honest and earnest reflections on and criticisms of her idiocies right next to victories. I won’t deny that I’m a sucker for cryptic comments that make you boil with a sense of holy shit holy shit what’s gonna happen #panicking. Well, that’s my crazyoverdramaticself for you.

In the end, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is more the story of humanity and April May rather than humanity and worldwide change because, you know, deliciously self-absorbed and strategic main character and all.

I am aware that you’re here for an epic tale of intrigue and mystery and adventure and near death and actual death, but in order to get to that (unless you want to skip to chapter 13—I’m not your boss), you’re going to have to deal with the fact that I, April May, in addition to being one of the most important things that has ever happened to the human race, am also a woman in her twenties who has made some mistakes.

I have the story, and so I get to tell it to you the way I want. That means you get to understand me, not just my story.

Companions: Playlist & Related Reviews

Book series playlist: Spotify URL

Books in series:
➛ An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (The Carls, #1) ★★★★★
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor (The Carls, #2) ★★★★★
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,138 reviews8,152 followers
October 13, 2018
Meh. It had a really cool plot but I hated the writing style. And that ending made it even worse for me. I did not realize this would be part of a series when I picked it up so I was expecting a satisfying ending, and it did not deliver for me. Bummer.
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,199 followers
Want to read
January 25, 2019
Okay where is my crash course squad?
Profile Image for Tammy.
512 reviews431 followers
July 10, 2018
April May is the snarky, relationship wrecking narrator who is unwittingly catapulted into the dizzying heights of international fame upon being the first to discover a randomly named “Carl”. Initially thought to be an art installation, the Carls prove to be considerably more than visually striking. April becomes addicted to being first and staying first within the media both social and otherwise. At first glance this seems like a Young Adult novel and it will excite this audience but there is a lot more going on than the plot might lead you to believe which makes it appealing to more mature readers. In addition to fame (its effects and aftermath), we take a look at gender (identification and fluidity), crowd behavior (physical as well as cyber), and the unification of humanity in order to solve a puzzle. This is a fantastical journey that leads one to an unexpected destination.
Profile Image for Sol ~ TheBookishKing.
303 reviews183 followers
October 8, 2018
Buddy Read with Fellow Cardan the Furry Enthusiast

"Carl is not a possible thing, and yet there he is, guarding the Chipotle, leading people to conclude that he was not created by humans."

So ... just like I thought ... Trash.

I went in to this with semi high hopes as everyone says that Hank Green is the Better Brother due to the fact that John just keeps putting out Not So Great Books. There was tons of hype around this book that I was gladly not involved in but I read this in favor of a friend who adores Hank but wanted thoughts on the book before she bought it. So here I've been for the past two days being extremely conflicted.

The beginning to this book was rough, I didn't care for the characters but the story line was kind of interesting and kept me going. Then I started to love the middle a lot and was incredibly interested in everything that was happening! It was crazy hard to put down and I was devouring it ............ then came Chapter 13 - Chapter 25. They completely ruined this amazing idea and I am still a tad angry.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is about April, a normal girl who lives in New York, working an insanely annoying App coding job. It is her life, despite completely despising it. One night on her way home, she passes the local Chipotle and a large Transformer Robot Like structure is just standing there. Just thinking it's a piece of art, she calls a friend and together they film a video about this amazing piece of art that may not be exactly a piece of art. Together they name him Carl.

When April awakes the next morning, she is insanely famous for her discovery of the Carls. But New York Carl isn't the only one like his kind, all over the world Carls have appeared. The world is now changed forever by the appearance of these robots, and Aprils life is changed forever as she takes in being a famous discoverer.

This book explores the topics of social structures bought upon becoming internet famous, brings about the struggles of the media industry and really the falsities that we are taught about being famous. Which I thought was really cool because Hank was here to EXPOSE the world and I was living, especially since he knows pretty well what it's like to be Internet Famous, practically everyone knows the Greens. So not only was this exploring social media life and internet fame, we also got to see this science robot - potential alien side. All of this mixed together is actually really really good and I loved this part so much.

But here's where I started to see more John Green and Less of Hank. Okay also don't get me wrong, I went into this book looking for Hank Green as an author. I didn't want to compare him to his brother at all BUT it just happened because I believe their writing styles are actually very very similar.

We have here another boring white girl who believes herself to be so different because she doesn't like Twitter and visits Art Museums instead. But whereas John Green features hopeless straight whites needing to find their tragic lover, Hank features a Bisexual Main Character and a Sapphic Relationship.

Hank differs from his brother I believe in, wanting to explore and break normal social gender roles. Which is great of course and I loved but he killed it for me with April by making the only thing that didn't make her your normal Green hopeless romantic white girl, is that she's bisexual. She literally says she isn't like other girls because she doesn't like twitter and goes to Art Museums. Like wow I'm so dang impressed April you're SO QUIRKY I'm so PROUD OF YOU. And it bothered me a lot.

What really killed this book though is the Pretentious Ending that made me want to pull my hair out and scream for years. As I said, I didn't want to compare the brothers against each other because I just think it's wrong and I wanted to give him a chance ... but okay were him and John both taught that Pretentious Endings are the Key to a Good Book? The ending tries to explain that we as Humans are more important than we think possible. And OKay sure I'm here for a good "We all need to be here for each other as humans and bring each other up," story line but not when it is randomly thrown in and ruins a GOOOD story line.

I cannot STAND this whole we as humans are so much smarter than we believe and we need to believe in our uniqueness because YES we're amazing. Sure we are, but DO NOT build up this book about science and potential aliens and robots and fame and hollywood ONLY to end it on Garbage. It's like the whole middle of this book was thrown out so our Pretentious Overlord could deal this crap onto us.

N O W, I do think a lot of people will absolutely love this. But as someone who was read John Greens books for over 5+ years and having to deal with ridiculous characters who think they're so quirky because they don't do normal things, I'm just tired. I'm real tired of this stuff y'all.

So of course these large robots are aliens. Sentient Beings from across the Universe. And the Carls are sending infectious Dreams through humans minds, making us solve a puzzle. But April is special, she is the chosen ones of the Carls. SO at the end right, she ends up dying because QUIRKY April must have a tragic death. And when she dies she goes into this dream state where she sees Carl and he explains to her that THE CARLS CAME DOWN to unite humans together in being good humans. And to remind US that we are important and unique and beautiful. So you want me to believe this whole time that you built up a story revolving around science, social constructs, fame, and aliens to end it like that?! These huge robot SENTIENT beings from OUTER SPACE came to remind us Humans that are we important? Exit the building please because I am not here for this garbage. It didn't even go well with the story line and here I am BEING angry because it just is pretentious as heck and .. why did I even waste my time.

SO YEAH THERES THAT REVIEW. It's a mess but I have been beyond ignored all day and angry so I had to vent out this review.

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.
Profile Image for Haley.
Author 2 books65 followers
September 30, 2018
Upon Announcement:


After Reading:

So I am giving this four stars for now, even though it is possible it is a 3/3.5-star book. I really loved everything it had to say and the way in which it said it, and I thought it was a highly original and well-written story, but I was confused and unimpressed by the ending. (That being said, given the premise of the book, I would like to point out the irony of this being easily my most-liked review ever.)

What I did love about this story was its focus on fame and the way sudden celebrity—especially internet celebrity—affects a person. April May becomes more brand and spokeswoman than human for much of this book, and because she's the narrator, looking back on past events with new clarity and self-realization, her downward spiral is very clear and honestly understandable. I could totally understand why she made the decisions she did, why so many people hanging onto her every word would be heady, how she couldn't find it in her to stop. And I liked that, looking back, she knew that it should have been obvious she was being destructive and foolish, but how, in the moment, her choices fit her state of mind.

I wish we had seen more of Maya, and more of Maya, Andy, and April all together as friends, but I liked the clearly defined characteristics of each person in the story. I thought these were strong characters, with original views, personalities, and voices, and I liked the way they worked together through the problems of the Carls.

And while the message of the book was a blatant one, at times, it's perfect for the time. Not only that fame changes you, not necessarily for the better; not only how even good people can mistake fame as an opportunity to speak for your entire system of beliefs, and, along the way, lose your personhood; but how we're stronger together than apart. This book was very focused on bringing people together across the globe; April realizes time and time again that working through a problem alone never solves it. It's through endless, global collaboration that we make strides—or even a small collaboration between friends who have different ways of thinking.

But the ending. WHAT.

I could have lived without a full conclusion for the Carls. I needed a conclusion for April.

Overall, I love the way this book is laid out. I love how modern it is, and how it's more focused on the big picture and hindsight than characters (even though I am traditionally a huge fan of character-driven stories). I love the originality. I couldn't put it down. I just wanted a few more chapters.

Profile Image for Gabby.
1,236 reviews26.7k followers
June 25, 2021
I listened to this on audio and I wanted to love it so badly, but this book just wasn’t for me. I am super intrigued by the concept of this book, but the execution of it just fell so flat for me and I thought it was either really boring or really cringe-y, and the main character drove me nuts at some parts.

I also learned something about my reading taste, because I always thought I enjoyed reading about famous people dealing with fame, but I realized I don’t like stories that follow people that go viral and become super internet famous overnight. I prefer to read about famous people like actors/directors or musicians, rather than internet famous people 😅
Profile Image for Mari.
705 reviews5,093 followers
January 1, 2022

In the spirit of full disclosure, I used to work part-time for a company Hank Green owns. I bought this book for myself, however, with a preorder that predated the job.

4.5 stars

Why you may not like this book: This is a sci-fi book that is character driven and focused so that the sci-fi element, and ultimately the mystery of the story, takes more of a back seat. This has a very strong conversational tone. April May's voice as a person very much informs how this story is told, and that sort of chatty style might not work for everyone. Finally, April May is exceptionally human-- she's messy and flawed and makes some bad choices. I've seen a lot of people refer to her as horrible or unlikable or whatever else, which I think is truly missing the entire point of what this book says about humanity. However, be aware that April May IS flawed and her flaws include a penchant for sabotaging relationships. She centers herself a heck ton in the middle of this story, a fact that affects not only the story and her relationships, but how the story is told: through the narrow lens of an almost unreliable narrator with some hindsight.

Why I loved this book: After I got the book, I decided to splurge and buy the audiobook, and I'm so happy that I did. Kristen Sieh did a great job as April May and this is a story written in a way that enjoys being read aloud. I think I also benefited from putting that distance between Green's voice and April May's voice. There are so many thoughts about life, the goodness of people, fame and humanity here that scream Hank Green (obviously, and as they should) that having Kristen Sieh be the one to deliver those thoughts was great.

I enjoyed the Carl stuff and I think it worked well as a backdrop and catalyst, one that remained fun and interesting even on reread. Obviously the alien statues are not "realistic," however, I found all of the different ways people reacted to them very realistic. I could see things playing out how Green depicted. To that end, I loved much of what Green says about fame, having a platform, power dynamics, humanity and also messing up a lot. It's introspective and coming-of-age-y, two things I love. Some might find the messages too heavy handed, but it fits to me in a time where everything is politicized and also on fire.

I loved April May. I'll challenge any one who calls her unlikable because I think she's shown as incredibly likable if flawed. You know, as humans tend to be. Some of the other characters felt a little under-developed compared to April May, but it's to be expected in a story so closely following our main character and in which one of her main flaws is a bit of taking her friends for granted. She's funny and smart and gets caught up in such a big thing that I feel for how she loses herself in it and how it highlights the not so great parts of her.

This is a great debut, one that holds up to reread, and one that lives strongly in my memories and feelings.

[October 18, 2018] Original read. Marked 4 stars.

[July 20, 2020] Marking for reread. Marked 4.5 stars.

[September 2021] Marking for reread. I never say a book is my favorite until I've reread it and I think it's safe to say that this is one of my favorites.
Profile Image for Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd).
332 reviews7,309 followers
January 31, 2021

Thanks to the Dutton team for sending me this book for review, and thanks to Hank Green for signing it beforehand. I can’t even believe that a book I loved this much has a note from one of my idols in the front about my YouTube channel. Fuck. This was so good.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
January 4, 2019
It was 2:45 in the morning, and April May was walking home in New York City after a long night of working. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw it:

"A ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor, its huge barrel chest lifted up to the sky a good four or five feet above my head. It just stood there in the middle of the sidewalk, full of energy and power. It looked like it might, at any moment, turn and fix that empty, regal stare on me. But instead it just stood there, silent and almost scornful, like the world didn't deserve its attention."

April decides to call her friend Andy to see if he could take video of this statue, whom she has called Carl. The two record some video footage just to be sure there was some record it existed, and that it wasn't just some prank. They goof around a bit with the statue, post some footage to social media, and crash.

What awaits April and Andy the next morning is extraordinary. Not only has their video footage gone viral, but apparently, Carls have shown up in cities all across the world. No one understands what they want or where they came from, but one thing is clear: April and Andy have found themselves at the center of a media frenzy, and April is determined to get out in front of the story, even if it means becoming a more public person than she has ever wanted.

"Even Before Carl, I spent time thinking about what I'd say if I ever had a platform to say it. That's what art is about, right? I mean, not app interfaces, but art. Much of the best art is about balancing between reflecting culture while simultaneously being removed from it and commenting on it. In the best case, maybe an artist gets to say something about culture that hasn't been said and needs to be said."

The pair connects with Miranda, a scientist, who believes that the Carls are asking for materials—iodine, americium, and uranium. When a small experiment with Carl leads to chaos across the world, people, including the U.S. government, start to worry if the Carls' intentions are positive and/or peaceful, which forces April to realize that there are individuals out there who want to advance their own causes, and will use Carl—and her—as pawns.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is as much a story about the origins and intentions of the Carls as it is a commentary on our fame-obsessed culture. April discovers, slower than she might have hoped, that while it may be exciting to get everything you've always wanted, to appear on every conceivable television program and talk show, and even have the president's private phone number, there are consequences, which can put your own safety at risk, as well as your relationships, your health, even your future.

This book was a little zany for my tastes. I felt like it didn't really know whether it wanted to be more of a sci-fi mystery about the Carls or more of a lampoon of the culture of celebrity, and meshing the two didn't quite work. While there are parts of this book which feel very current, after a while I thought things were getting repetitive and a little bit overly complicated.

I'm a big fan of John Green, and his brother Hank definitely shares some storytelling characteristics, as well as a penchant for characters whose primary language is sarcasm. I thought Hank Green had a really interesting idea, but he didn't quite execute it as well as he could have. There are definitely interesting, humorous, and insightful moments here, but overall, the story seemed a little too wacky.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.
Profile Image for zuza_zaksiazkowane.
348 reviews31.2k followers
December 3, 2020
Okej. Teraz czas na moje zażalenia, panie Hanku Greenie.
Pomysł - ekstra. Kto nie lubi historii o przybyszach z obcej planety? Wątek sci-fi w tej książce był naprawdę ciekawy, oryginalny i mnie wciągnął. Szkoda tylko, że to było 25% całej książki.
April May to jedna z najbardziej znienawidzonych przeze mnie bohaterek na ten moment. Jak można było ją aż tak zepsuć?? Miała taki potencjał!
Autor próbował pokazać nam na każdym kroku, że ona jest człowiekiem, że ma wady i nie jest idealna, podczas kiedy ona sama traktuje siebie jako cholernego mesjasza i najbardziej wpływowego człowieka ever. No ego do siedemnastej potęgi.
Koniec był niesamowicie niesatysfakcjonujący. Zamysł był dobry, ale nie wyszedł. Przykre.
Pokładałam w tej książce wielkie nadzieje, chciałam fajnego i lekkiego sci-fi. A tymczasem - nie mogę jej wam nawet polecić. Ogromne rozczarowanie
Profile Image for Kaylin (The Re-Read Queen).
423 reviews1,630 followers
November 19, 2019
DNF @ 75%

“Behold the field in which I grow my fucks. Lay thine eyes upon it and see that it is barren.”

Me: *eagerly pre-ordered this book over a year ago*
Me: *didn’t read it until my book-club picked it as BOM*
Me: *Didn’t finish said book*
Me: *Left an unfinished “It’s-not-you-it’s-me” review for over 9 months*

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Honestly, this is not a bad book. It talks about the internet in a non-demonizing way. There’s discussion of fame, power dynamics, ethics vs celebrity and all this really interesting really relevant stuff.

And the author is in a unique position to talk about this stuff? As someone who clambered to internet fame before we really realized that was a thing Hank Green (and his brother John) have done amazing things with their evolving platform-- CrashCourse for dozens of school subjects, Sci-Show for my science geeks, hilarious vlogbrother videos and those that TLDR: current events. I still regularly listen to two of Hank Green’s podcasts (Delete This and Dear Hank and John, which if you liked this I highly recommend). Hank Green literally has a whole podcast where he and his wife go through his twitter each week and discuss how this form of communication hinders and helps in politics, environmentalism and basic empathy-- a theme in this book. Aka this book covers stuff the author really, really cares about, and it shows.

But maybe that’s part of why it didn’t work for me. This narrative voice didn’t feel like a new character to me. It sounded just like Hank Green. This really may be just a case of me having already read/seen/listened to too much of the author himself. But it made the book feel lackluster to me.

In Conclusion:

In all actuality a case of “it’s-not-you-it’s-me” but if I wanted to hear a narrative voice that sounded just like Hank Green talk about his thoughts on the internet and fame…. I’d just listen to one of his podcasts.


*puts on spectacles*



I knew it!

I still listen to Hank and John Green's podcast, and a few episodes ago Hank teased an announcement. Totally nailed it with my guess it was going to be a book!

Love both the brothers and the impact they've had on Internet culture. Hank is especially well-spoken and enthusiastic about so many important things, can't wait to see how this translates into a book!
Profile Image for Melissa Rochelle.
1,238 reviews143 followers
February 12, 2019
I hate that people are calling this "young adult". It's not. Stop it with the inane labels that turn people off instead of bringing them in.

The main character isn't even in high school OR college for that matter!

This is a book for people that like to read quirky, pop-culture-filled, sci-fi-ish books -- those people might be 15 years old (and their parents don't mind them reading the occasional profanity). Maybe it's a late 20s human that also enjoys reading the novels of Ernest Cline, Robin Sloan,Mira Grant, and/or Peter Clines. OR maybe they're a thirty-something mom that likes to read fast-moving books about random robot-alien encounters. Or maybe they're a forty-something that picked this one up because they also liked John Green and they thought this was his new book but realized after the fact that it said Hank -- and they won't be disappointed.

I'm certain I have more to say, but I needed to get that out there.

Thanks to the publisher for the advance reading copy.

Months later and I do have more to say -- this is taken from a presentation I did recommending this book (and more) to library patrons.

Hank Green is the brother of wildly successful author John Green – he wrote The Fault in Our Stars – together Hank and John are incredibly successful YouTube personalities. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is Hank Green’s debut novel. Being the brother of John Green automatically sets him up for a lot of assumptions – people may assume that THIS novel is “Young Adult” – a somewhat ambiguous genre label given to books with “youthful” main characters. It is not. People may assume that Hank is not as talented as his brother. He is. People may assume that April May, our leading lady, knew what she was getting into the night she called her friend Andy to come film this giant Transformer looking samurai armor sculpture. She didn’t. In fact, she inadvertently becomes the Carls spokesperson.

As we follow April’s upward trajectory in the realm of Talking Heads on 24 hour news channels, we also join her as she attempts to uncover the reason for the Carls sudden appearance and, more importantly, what they want from us.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked this book. It is very much a book set in TODAY. Viral videos, instant celebrities, 24-hour “news” (one of my favorite passages discusses this - “here’s a hint: it’s not really “news” until the ads stop)– we see it everyday, some of the viral sensations still live in my head – Rebecca Black’s “Friday”, anyone? Not only does he tackle the positive side of instant celebrity – money, personal assistants, free stuff) he shows the ugly side too – the dehumanization that can happen when you're in the public eye; The many ways we see “the other side” as villainous.

Hank Green has actually lived it and he brings his unique perspective to his characters.

If you enjoy the writings of Robin Sloan, Ernest Cline, or Mira Grant, pick this one up today!
Profile Image for Annemarie.
249 reviews686 followers
August 24, 2020
Actual rating: 3.5 🌟's

I initially gave this book 5 stars, because I had such an amazing time reading it and was so incredibly surprised by Hank Green's writing talent. It's hard to believe that this is his debut novel! The writing style was super easy to read and the teenagers actually talked like teenagers. It's nice to know that there are authors out there, who don't insist on constantly using stupid slang to get someones youth across.

I found the characters to be lovable and realistic, but was left waiting for more background information on them. I think that's the reason why I forgot a lot of the story quickly after I finished reading. I lowered my rating because of this, because in the end, nothing was truly remarkable.

However, the plot is still something really unique and unlike anything I've read before. It certainly was a very creative story that was well executed overall and also included some wonderful quotes. It was a super fun and fast read, and its one of those books I definitely see myself rereading at some point (I guess it actually will be a good thing I forgot a lot already - I will be surprised at the twists and turns again!) I'm excited for the sequel!
Profile Image for Nadia.
270 reviews175 followers
December 3, 2018
I think it is fair to say that this book rubbed me the wrong way. I didn't buy into the story at all - finding an alien statue in the middle of NYC and becoming famous because you posted a video of it??

The main character, April May, is one of the least likeable characters I've ever come across. She tells us she is quirky, but that's not how she comes across. Instead of being quirky, she is full of herself and extremely selfish, always doing what SHE wants despite her friends begging her otherwise. None of the other characters are developed much, so there was no one in the story I cared for. In addition, the writing felt rushed, lots of 'quirky' dialogue that I didn't enjoy.

I'm also confused as to who the book is aimed for. It was nominated in Goodreads fiction genre, but surely, this cannot be adult literature?

I'm sorry, I just don't get this book.

*I received an e-copy of the book from Orion Publishing Group in exchange of an honest review.*
Profile Image for Taylor Ramirez.
483 reviews26 followers
Shelved as 'nope'
January 24, 2018
"Coming home from work at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May..."

April May

Nope. Ya lost me.
Profile Image for Fa Orozco.
Author 1 book16.5k followers
December 4, 2018
¡Cómo se atreve Hank Green a engañarme y hacerme leer el inicio de una serie sin que yo lo supiera!

Este libro me lo bebí como pocos lanzamientos. Es realmente un sci-fi contemporaneo. La historia tiene los elementos precisos para disfrutarlo tremendamente, incluso si eres más de ficción realista que de todo lo demás.

Además de disfrutar estos elementos, los temas humanos son increíbles: sobre cómo nos vemos a nosotros mismos y cómo nos hacemos ver ante los demás, el impacto de la atención instantánea que ocurre en nuestra normalidad de redes sociales y presenta a una chica bisexual de una manera que se lee real, honesta y sin dejar lugar a cuestionamientos extraños al estilo "de seguro lo hace por llamar la atención".
Me encantó leer justo sobre esa parte de la bisexualidad en esta novela, donde al mismo tiempo es solo una parte más de April y no lo que la define.

GRAN primer libro. Para cualquier autor, no solo para Hank. Y yo, que elijo muy bien mis sagas, estaré leyendo todo lo que le siga a esta historia.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,205 reviews40.9k followers
October 9, 2018
Absolutely remarkable fascinating and one of the greatest books of the year! I think it should be adapted into a movie by Spielberg or J.J. Abrams ! ( it never surprises me cause it could be a big box office hit like Ready Player One)
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,012 reviews1,333 followers
November 11, 2018
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

“Even on this most terrible days, even when the worst of us are all we can think of, I am proud to be a human.”

🌟 One of the worst thing people can do and specially parents is comparing brothers/ sisters. Because Everybody is a genius. But If You Judge a Fish by Its Ability to Climb a Tree, It Will Live Its Whole Life Believing that It is Stupid

*drowning in deepness*

🌟 The reason I am saying this is that I don’t like John Green books, I simply tried them and they are not just for me. But I am not here to compare those two brothers, I think their relationship is cute and they are supportive of each other but now let’s get objective and analyze the book.

🌟 I actually went into the book with middle expectations. I knew it involved a robot and social media but that’s that. The subject of Social media and its effect on our life is a subject that has been on my mind for a while. I have seen some friends grow and flourish social wise but I have seen how toxic that can be at the same time. Actually in rare occasions I felt obliged to write something not because I believe in it but because I wanted people to think so. Don’t judge me as we all do this!

🌟 Now the major problem in this book was its genre, I think it can be classified as contemporary/ Sci-fi which are two different and opposite genres. Contemporaries are supposed to be real while Sci-Fi makes you imagine and think. The contemporary part in this book was great. I wish it didn’t involve Sci-Fi as it made it hard to believe and unrelatable. The social media representation was one of the best I’ve ever read.

🌟 The pacing was kind of fast, the story was gripping too at first which makes it fast to read. Around Ch13 the Sci-fi part predominates which made the story slower, hard to believe and kind of boring. I even considered DNFing at one point but I pushed through and it improved once again toward the end.

🌟 The characters were average, not ones that will stay with me but not flat at the same time. I think they could have been a bit better. However, I like that they were older than the typical teenagers in novels and the same age as I am which was cool and I don’t see that much.
Overall, this is a book that combines 2 genres which would have been better if it focused on one (particularly the contemporary one). The writing was good and humorous and it had fast pacing for the majority of the story. It could have been better but sill is a good book. I ended up giving it 3 out of 5 stars. I still don’ know if I am willing to continue it and only time will tell when book 2 is released.

Prescription: for those who like both contemporary/ Sci-fi and looking for a good social media representation by an own-voice author (Given that the Green brothers lives has been changed by social media).
Profile Image for Samantha.
417 reviews16.7k followers
July 29, 2021
3.75 stars

I really enjoyed the audiobook version of this book, but it’s really hard to rate this as this duology is very obviously one whole story and should probably be read as such. But this first book was interesting enough to read but is not yet super memorable to me. What I did really love is how well done the discussion of internet fame and the use of platforms was, as you can tell Hank has experience with that. So many authors try to make their characters have that background but if you have any experience with platforms like that, it feels fake and forced. This felt very organic. This first contact story also reminded me a lot of the Themis Files series which is another one I really enjoyed. I’m hoping book 2 has more of the sci fi elements.
Profile Image for annelitterarum.
223 reviews1,424 followers
March 23, 2023

ok arrêtons les capitales mais vous comprenez le ton,,,

Le personnage principal????????????? Why are you me????????????? Je la trouve trop réaliste et attachante. Sa façon de raconter l’histoire, c’est chef’s kiss, c’est beaucoup trop addictif, et en plus c’est drôle.

L’histoire m’a complètement tourneboulée car c’est vraiment original et ça va définitivement me faire réfléchir sur la célébrité, le bien, le mal, l’humanité et le sens de collectivité. Et good job à hank d’aborder un sujet pareil sans me donner envie de chier dans mes culottes parce que l’espace et les extraterrestres ça fait peur👍🏻

Bref la fin me donne trop hâte de lire la suite, je sens que vous n’avez pas fini de m’entendre parler de AART youpie
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