An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

by Hank Green

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“Sparkling with mystery, humor and the uncanny, this is a fun read. But beneath its effervescent tone, more complex themes are at play.” —San Francisco Chronicle

In his wildly entertaining debut novel, Hank Greencocreator of Crash Course, Vlogbrothers, and SciShowspins 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 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.
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: 9781524743451
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/25/2018
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 18,129
File size: 2 MB

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, 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


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.


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.

Customer Reviews

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An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: A Novel 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome! I hope Mr.Green does a sequel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Way to go, Hank!!!!!
Anonymous 16 days ago
Anonymous 3 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
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
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
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.
Piglet11 More than 1 year ago
Hank Green knocked it out of the park with his first novel! An Absolutley Remarkable Thing was a great and surprising read with twist that I didn't see coming. This book was unpredictable and I couldn't put it down even when I needed to. I can't wait to see what/if Hank Green writes again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really hope there's a sequel for the big unanswered questions!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept me in suspense til the end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great story! hope you write another <3