An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

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Overview

THE INSTANT #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

In his much-anticipated debut novel, Hank Green—cocreator of Crash Course, Vlogbrothers, and SciShow—spins a sweeping, cinematic tale about a young woman who becomes an overnight celebrity before realizing she's part of something bigger, and stranger, than anyone could have possibly imagined.


The Carls just appeared.

Roaming through New York City 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—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.

Compulsively entertaining and powerfully relevant, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing grapples with big themes, including how the social internet is changing fame, rhetoric, and radicalization; how our culture deals with fear and uncertainty; and how vilification and adoration spring for the same dehumanization that follows a life in the public eye. The beginning of an exciting fiction career, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a bold and insightful novel of now.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525641780
Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/25/2018
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 961,152
Product dimensions: 5.06(w) x 5.91(h) x 1.08(d)

About the Author

Hank Green is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. He's also the CEO of Complexly, a production company that creates educational content, including Crash Course and SciShow, prompting The Washington Post to name him "one of America's most popular science teachers." Complexly's videos have been viewed more than two billion times on YouTube. Green cofounded a number of other small 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. In 2017, VidCon drew more than forty thousand attendees across three events in Anaheim, Amsterdam, and Australia. Hank and his brother, John, also started the Project for Awesome, which last year raised more than two million dollars for charities, including Save the Children and Partners in Health. Hank lives in Montana with his wife, son, and cat.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Look, 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 am in the wonderful position of having you by the short hairs. 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, so don’t be surprised if there’s some drama. I’m going to attempt to come at this account honestly, but I’ll also admit to a significant pro-me bias. If you get anything out of this, ideally it won’t be you being more or less on one side or the other, but simply understanding that I am (or at least was) human.

And I was very much feeling only human as I dragged my tired ass down 23rd Street at 2:45 a.m. after working a sixteen-hour day at a start-up that (thanks to an aggressively shitty contract I signed) will remain nameless. Going to art school might seem like a terrible financial decision, but really that’s only true if you have to take out gobs and gobs of student loans to fund your hoity-toity education. Of course, I had done exactly that. My parents were successful, running a business providing equipment to small and medium-sized dairy farms. Like, the little things you hook up to cows to get the milk out, they sold and distributed them. It was good business, good enough that I wouldn’t have had a lot of debt if I’d gone to a state school. But I did not do that. I had loans. Lots. So, after jumping from major to major (advertising, fine art, photography, illustration) and finally settling on the mundane (but at least useful) BFA in design, I took the first job that would keep me in New York and out of my old bedroom in my parents’ house in Northern California.

And that was a job at a doomed start-up funded by the endless well of rich people who can only dream the most boring dream a rich person can dream: being even more rich. Of course, working at a start-up means that you’re part of the “family,” and so when things go wrong, or when deadlines fly past, or when an investor has a hissy fit, or just because, you don’t get out of work until three in the morning. Which, honestly, I hated. I hated it because the company’s time- management app was a dumb idea and didn’t actually help people, I hated it because I knew I was just doing it for money, and I hated it because they asked the staff to treat it like their whole life rather than like a day job, which meant I didn’t have any time to spare to work on personal projects.

BUT!

I was actually using my degree doing actual graphic design and getting paid enough to afford rent less than one year out of school. My work environment was close to technically criminal and I paid half of my income to sleep in the living room of a one-bedroom apartment, but I was making it work.

I fibbed just now. My bed was in the living room, but I mostly slept in the bedroom—Maya’s room. We weren’t living together, we were roommates, and April-from-the-past would want me to be very clear about that. What’s the difference between those two things? Well, mostly that we weren’t dating before we moved in together. Hooking up with your roommate is convenient, but it is also a little confusing when you lived together through much of college. Before finally hooking up and have now been a couple for more than a year.

If you happen to already live together, when does the “Should we move in together?” question come up? Well, for Maya and me, the question was “Can we please move that secondhand mattress out of the living room so that we can sit on a couch when we watch Netflix?” and thus far my answer had been “Absolutely not, we are just roommates who are dating.” Which is why our living room still had a bed in it.

I told you there would be drama.

Anyway, back to the middle of the night that fateful January evening. This shitty app had to get a new release into the App Store by the next week and I had been waiting for final approvals on some user interface changes, and whatever, you don’t care—it was boring work BS. Instead of coming in early, I stayed late, which has always been my preference. My brain was sucked entirely dry from trying to interpret cryptic guidance from bosses who couldn’t tell a raster from a vector. I checked out of the building (it was a coworking space, not even actual leased offices) and walked the three minutes to the subway station.

And then my MetroCard got rejected FOR NO REASON. I had another one sitting on my desk at work, and I wasn’t precisely sure how much money I had in my checking account, so it seemed like I should walk the three blocks back to the office just to be safe.

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An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: A Novel 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down. Fun, engaging, trendy, weird (in a good way) and just plain interesting!! On the edge of my seat through most of it!!
LaynieBee-Blog More than 1 year ago
I’d like to start this review by making it clear that I have been a Nerdfighter (i.e. a part of the community that rallies around Hank and John, actively works to decrease world suck, and generally allows themselves to experience the joy of being excited about things) since the early days of their YouTube channel. I've since found myself watching their videos less and less, but still supporting their other endeavors. This, however, only sways my opinion slightly. Hank, to me, has always been the “left-brained” brother. I associate Hank with things like SciShow (an informative web series based around scientific topics) and songs about space and the universe. John is the bookish one. The one with the book club. The one with all the quotes about reading. If the brothers were high school teachers, Hank would be math and science and John would handle the English and history. So naturally when I found out Hank was releasing a book, I thought it would be non-fiction. Maybe about the universe, or how science has changed the world. I was very worried when I found out it was fiction. Would it be another John Green novel? Would it live up to the standard that I have come to expect from the Greens? Would I have to pretend to like it while actually DNFing it? So, while I saw the hype, I shied away from learning too much about it. In fact, I didn’t even read the description until after I started the book. I did see pictures of the statues at BookCon, because, well those were hard to miss but I had no idea what I was in for and, honestly, I kind of like that it happend that way. Right off the bat I came to several conclusions. One: This is most definitely not a John Green novel. The age of the protagonist (early 20s) is one of the determining factors of this, as is the SciFi aspect. But the voice is what really sets it apart. The MC of most John Green novels is a incredibly self reflective, almost brooding, introvert with a quirky side. April May, the MC of this novel, is in-your-face spunky and incredibly outgoing. She takes pride in being fun, carefree, and never too serious. Obviously there is some introspection, but usually at the cost of making fun of herself. Two: I wasn’t going to be able to stop reading even if I tried. Much to the dismay of my friends, family, and employer, I walked around in an AART haze until I finished the book. Wait. No. Scratch that. I am still in an AART haze. Hank pulls you into this world that almost feels like it could happen. He makes you feel for the inanimate objects and April May. As April grows and her character arc develops, she starts to point out many things that make you stop and think. About the world. About people. About yourself and what you truly desire and what you are really scared of. What, on the surface, is just a book about a few metal robot statues and a quirky graphic designer turned vlogger is actually both a love letter and a warning to/about the Internet and Internet fame. How it brings people together, but can also tear them apart. About how addictive fame can be and how it feels to continuously chase the next thing that will keep you relevant so as not to lose your audience. April May and the story of the immovable robots that show up in the middle of the night, isn’t actually the story here. This novel is more about the way the community either rallies behind or against them. It’s a story of humanity and togetherness. Working towards a common goal with your fellow man. Looking
Jill-Elizabeth_dot_com 5 months ago
This was such a cool story! It reminded me in some ways of Sylvain Neuvel's Themis Files (but in a wholly different way, if that makes any sense at all). The appearance of something unexpected with the attendant worldwide consequences that accompany Things We Don't Understand lends itself to everything from slapstick antics to thoughtful consideration of what it means to be human in the modern world, and in the hands of a talented writer (which Green clearly is) that blend makes for a marvelous ride. I also REALLY enjoyed the exegesis on fame, social media, and the fleeting nature of public opinion in this day and age. Add in excellent writing and spot-on pacing, a clever heroine (who is, in the nature of the best heroines, often too clever for her own good or the good of those around her), a fantastic (literally and figuratively) idea, and the result is a book that pulled me in from the opening salvo and never let go. There's a subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) biting wry wit at work here. It simultaneously makes a mockery of our obsession with social media "fame" and pays a reluctant homage to the bizarre power of masses of people to shape the way the world works (for good and most definitely for ill). I found it thoughtful and thought-provoking and infuriating and inspiring - an amalgamation that doesn't come along in one entertaining package all that often. I must confess, John Green isn't much to my taste. I find him a little too angst-y and existential-why-of-youth focused. I'm not his prime audience, so that's not a criticism so much as a comment. Hank Green is ENTIRELY to my taste though, and I'll be seeking him out in his myriad fora from now on! My review copy was provided obligation-free by the publisher via NetGalley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome! I hope Mr.Green does a sequel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Way to go, Hank!!!!!
JMTJTC 6 months ago
"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." Book Info: Genre: New Adult Sci-Fi Number of Pages: 343 Perspective: First Person Location: Manhattan, NY An Absolutely Remarkable Thing follows 23-year-old April May as she becomes a viral social media influencer after discovering the first of many alien robots in the middle of Manhattan. This starts a series of puzzles to figure out what these robots, referred to as Carls, want. TL;DR: An entertaining gateway into speculative sci-fi novels. Rating: 4/5 Full Review: I read this book as a part of our Judging More Than Just The Cover Book Club podcast Check out the spoiler-filled discussion episode here: https://anchor.fm/judgingmorethan/episodes/Book-Discussion-An-Absolutely-Remarkable-Thing-by-Hank-Green-e50706?fbclid=IwAR2xau3dTCkc-9Nx-sFsPARsBUi3PH7FdtZ9jh_3DHi5Fd_DMzTDoigwYDQ See the full book review here: https://judgingmorethanjustthecover.com/2019/08/book-review-an-absolutely-remarkable-thing-by-hank-green.html?fl_builder
nfam 7 months ago
The Internet Can Transform You into a Celebrity April May is conflicted. She has a job where she can use her artistic degree and talents, but she still can’t afford a decent apartment in New York City and works long hours. On her way home in the early morning, she comes on a gigantic sculpture. She’s intrigued by the intricate design of the transformer. In fact, she’s so excited she calls Hank, her best friend to make a U-Tube video. The next morning, April awakens to Internet fame, but it’s not all delightful. The sculptures, which she calls Carl, are showing up all over the world. Now people are terrified and April finds herself in the position of defending the invaders. The plot in this book is good. We have the aliens invading our space, but are they bad or good. However, in the first half of the book, the emphasis is on April and her response to fame. Social media can be a wonderful way to stay in touch with friends and explore on line relationships, but it can turn ugly, as April discovered. The plot moves swiftly and in the opening chapters exploring interesting concepts with fame. We may want it, but it can bring more problems than it’s worth. Besides, it can change people in not good ways. This is one takeaway from how April handles things. I enjoyed the book. It’s readable and contains insights on finding the first aliens as well as how social media shapes people and events. I received this book from Net Galley for this review.
diane92345 7 months ago
There it was—in the middle of the sidewalk. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. It was “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.” April May didn’t know what to do. She’s a Millennial graphic artist so of course she had her friend Andy film her interviewing it while calling it Carl. They posted it on YouTube. The next morning, April May is a viral sensation. The video of New York Carl is eventually watched by 94% of the humans on the planet. It seems she and Andy have caught the tip of a phenomenon. There are at least sixty Carls in cities all over the world. News programs are paying the two $10,000 each per 20 minute interview. Just when April May starts liking the attention (and the money, of course), she reads some trolling comments on her video. Someone is also impersonating her in a fake, and rude, Twitter account. Worst of all, she discovers that there is something secret and scary about Carl. To continue her fame, she decides to do something about it. Instagram fame is fleeting unless you are curating your life for others as hard as the Kardashians. April May is caught by a fame she didn’t seek but also doesn’t want to see wane. That moral is the center of this science fiction thriller. Despite being substantially older, I could totally see myself in many of April’s decisions. Not just the fame but also the need to find out who or what Carl is. I think An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is An Absolutely Remarkable Book! Great for teens through seniors with a story with an immediacy rarely seen in novels targeting New Adults. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars! Thanks to Dutton Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
miss_mesmerized 7 months ago
When April May leaves the office totally exhausted at 3am to return home, she comes across a surely true remarkable thing. She calls her friend Andy to meet her and to bring his camera so that they could film this big sculpture which suddenly was just there in the middle of New York City. April names it Carl and Andy uploads their short video to YouTube. What both of them do not have the least premonition of at that moment is what happens afterwards. All over the world, Carls have appeared, but New York’s one is considered the first and April May somehow the connection to these strange and unmovable figures. This could be the story, but not in our times anymore because the internet is yearning for idols, for people to worship and follow and April May has become exactly that. She is not the 23-year-old design student anymore, a brand replaces her personality and obviously, for the Carls, she is the human being to communicate with. Hank Green knows what he is talking about in making the internet and different social media platforms the centre of his debut novel since he himself has become famous as a video blogger and with different web projects. “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing” is often classified as a science-fiction novel, I would like to disagree here because there is not much that isn’t real today in it. Just the one aspect, aliens making contact, yet the rest of far from being futuristic and imaginative but all too real. No matter which genre you assign the book to, it is a great read that offers food for thought on several levels. Normally, I prefer novels with realistic settings and plots that create the impression of authenticity. Well, this is not really the case here with those Carls showing up unexpectedly. Yet, I was immediately hooked and couldn’t put it down anymore. April May – I have to say it here: did I ever come across a protagonist with a more ridiculous name? I don’t think so – is quite an interesting character since, on the one hand, she surely is a bit naive or at least does not anticipate the extent of her doings. On the other hand, she seems to be quite natural and acts on impulse which I liked at lot since it made it easy to sympathise with her in a certain way. Her development from young woman to brand is remarkable and gives you a great idea of media and internet dynamics; I also liked the marketing background coming with it which was masterly integrated into the novel. I you ever wanted to explain to anybody how the internet community works and what the advantages and dangers of social media are, just hand over this novel. I think it is a wonderful example of today’s communication mechanisms and of how nobody can control these processes anymore once set in motion. The internet is not a separate space any longer where you can have something like a second life, it has become a part of our real life and certainly has an impact on what happens in the real world nowadays. It is flattering that Green makes his alien believe that there is some clever and beautiful life on earth, yet, for me the more important message to take from the book was certainly the question of how we can synergise those two worlds that we are living in without forgetting who we are when creating ourselves. In several respects a great read that could have an important impact and make us readers ponder about our behaviour.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Interesting+premise%2C+but+I+didn%27t+really+care+for+the+characters+and+I+left+disappointed+especially+with+the+cliff+hangar.+
Anonymous 11 months ago
This book is fun and something very different than what I would normally read. I read it for a book club and really enjoyed it. It was like Transformers and Aliens meet social media. My husband and I read it together and surprisingly we both were really into it. I think it would appeal more to, let's say, the "under 40" crowd due to the high level of swearing, robots, and social media and internet references, but certainly a book that really makes you think...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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TheLiteraryPhoenix More than 1 year ago
While I cannot quite say that I *liked* this book, I certainly did *appreciate* it. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is very well written and is easily the sort of book that will ensnare the reader. April May discovers a mysterious statue on her late night trek home in New York City, and thinking it's a beautiful new art installation, she call her friend and the two make video and introduce the sculpture as "Carl". The next morning, April discovers that not only is Carl not quite an art installation, but there is a Carl in every major city in the world. Where did they all come from? What do they mean? And how in the world did April May manage to get in the middle of the whole event? Between the question of the Carls and the elements of the Dream, there's a lot of interesting puzzles in this novel. It reminded me in parts of both Ready Player One and Sleeping Giants. The pacing is perfectly done and it manages to capture not only the fascinating parts of the genre, but also the rise to fame and how it affects an individual. My only complaint about An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is entirely personal. There's nothing truly wrong with this book, and I think that the high rating is well-deserved. The only thing I didn't like was April May herself. April is a flawed character and a self-proclaimed horrible girlfriend... but it was her self-absorption and selfishness that made me dislike her. Again, this is nothing related to the way April was WRITTEN. She's written perfectly. I just didn't click with her. I'd like to hear this story from Maya's POV, and I would have enjoyed this story much more. But April made me cringe.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
loved+it
AdelineMirren More than 1 year ago
This book was really interesting, and a fast read. The characters were very relatable and the concept of the book was fun and weid.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I+couldn%27t++get+beyond+180.+I+found+the+book+very+dull.
Rylea_Anderson More than 1 year ago
April May, a bisexual university-educated graphic artist who is in a relationship with a woman, discovers what she thinks is a work of art on the streets of Manhattan one very early morning on her way home from work. On a whim, she and her best friend make a YouTube video about it that launches them both into the world of YouTube superstardom. Together with a small group of her friends, they solve the mystery of the alien-thing they named “Carl” and share it with the world. I’m going to start with all the things I loved about this book. The protagonist and cast of characters are diverse, intelligent, and interesting. I am in love with the idea of a book that reflects the landscape of twenty-somethings as I know them, not only the subset of heterosexual white people. They are educated. They are nerds. They use the internet and social media as a primary means of connection. They do not have their shit together. Even so, I felt myself emotionally holding this book at arms-length. The first third of the book felt like name-dropping gaming, esports, and nerd fandoms as a way to gain my trust or interest early and not as natural character development. I *hated* April May and I never stopped hating her. While she held agency as the protagonist, which I value as a woman reading about women, she was just not all that interesting. As a whole, the book felt like Green was plugging plot points into an equation in order to write a hip, modern novel with a diverse cast. Maybe this is not all that surprising given that he is a chemist with firsthand knowledge about streaming, Youtube, and managing social media as a brand. Then again, with firsthand knowledge, I wanted to feel the emotional connection and some sort of investment in what happens to these characters. I just didn’t. Tl;dr: I liked it. I didn’t love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book because I love listening to the Green brothers on YouTube. I didn't make it past the third chapter before I gave up on the childish writing style and the endeavor to include as much risqué material as possible without causing too much alarm. It's as if it was written by the kid at school who tries to use swear words to keep up with the "in crowd". Also it was quite a forced representation of the LGBT/ feminist/black lives movements all wrapped up into one character as if to make sure it could be accepted by the majority of millennials. The very first page warns of the "drama" and the character's unapologetic attitude towards what she has to say. I have no comment to make on political movements here, but I do not wish to encounter these issues every time I open a book- especially a fiction novel. From the beginning I was annoyed by the main character rather than interested in what she might have to offer. It might have been a good read if it had not stuck its toes in political waters.
piesmom More than 1 year ago
A different kind of novel. This novel had humor and fantasy and a unique perspective while also being dark. I wasn't going to buy the book but I enjoyed the last Barnes & Noble book club so I went for it. It was definitely worth reading. The character of April May was engaging, flaws and all. There was a certain sociological, political angle to the novel as well. I thought Hank Green did an awesome job of describing the way fame brings fans and haters of the world and of how that divide can turn suddenly wrong. I would have given the novel 5 stars because it was definitely better than 4 but I wasn't crazy about the ending. BTW. it turned out I had a conflicting benefit to attend so I never got to the Book Club. I so wanted to discuss the novel further.
alexcan3 More than 1 year ago
Like nothing I have ever read. Interesting. Intriguing, Fun. A page-turner. Give it a try!
Barb1966 More than 1 year ago
Would not put on my top 10 list but it was an interesting book. I wanted to give up on it, but for some reason it kept pulling me in, so I'm glad I finished it. I would call it an "intriguing" book. Would make a good movie. It is geared more toward the younger adult (20 - 40 year olds). I think there will be a sequel but I'm not sure I would buy it. Might go to the library instead to get it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is intriguing, I would love to read sequels and any other following. The book is easy to follow and the plot is twisty in its own way. I hope Green explore other perspectives in the story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought it was kind of silly
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't get through the first chapter. I normally try to give a book longer before throwing in the towel, but not with this one. the writing style, the content, subject - I just couldn't do it.