Last night I finished reading Hank Green’s debut novel, and I have to say, it is quite possibly the weirdest book I’ve read since a few years back when I first discovered Haruki Murakami. It’s wacky, zany, hilarious and I absolutely loved it. The plot centres around a 23 year old graphic designer who becomes a viral sensation after she releases a YouTube video of herself discovering “New York Carl”; a ten foot tall metal sculpture wearing a plate of armour that randomly appeared on a sidewalk. Our heroine, April May (BTW, how ridiculously adorable is her name?!) initially believes New York Carl to be some sort of art installation. However, the more April May (and the world) learns about New York Carl, the more it becomes obvious that Carl, and the sixty or so identical sculptures that have appeared around the world, are not of this earth. Thus April May, as the first to make contact with an alien life form, goes from being a viral hit to an international celebrity of historic importance. Though the book definitely has a sci-fi efeel to it, the story is more about fame in the age of social media.
Honestly though, it wasn’t the plot that drew me to An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. In fact, I doubt I would have even read the book had it not been written by Hank Green. As I’ve probably mentioned before, Hank’s brother John is one of my all time favourite authors. I even named my two pet rabbits (Pudge and Alaska) after characters from his debut novel, Looking for Alaska. I also knew a fair bit about Hank because of his various YouTube projects, including the VlogBrothers videos he makes with John. So naturally, I was curious to read Hank’s writing. Like John, I found Hank to be extremely witty and intelligent (seriously, is Hank some kind of genius?? How does he know so much about all these different subjects?!). However, Hank’s humour is a tad darker and more sarcastic, which makes sense as the book as a whole is more adult than anything John’s written. I also found April May to be more complex than any of the narrators from John’s books, I think I was half in love with her by the end of the first chapter. She’s narcissistic, ambitious, fiercely intelligent, and she’s quite possibly the most self aware character that I’ve ever come across.
If I were to write a full review of this book, I’d end up rating it about a 4.5/5. However, the main thing I loved about this book was how much it made me laugh, and instead of just telling you about that, I thought I’d show you by sharing some of my favourite quotes from the book. Some are more just insightful than funny, but they’re all quotes I loved, so here they are, in the order in which they appear in the book . . .
“Y’know, you don’t have to hate everything, April.”
“Have you ever seen the way I look at cheesecake?”
“You know what I mean. Like, this is the only time in our lives anything this cool is ever going to happen, and you mostly look like you need to poop.”“Stop thinking about my poop.”
Any chimes in here. “April is new to the institution of television. She’s spent her entire life being entertained by novels from the 1860s.”Chuckles from the audience.“Not true, my friend! I have spent a fair amount of my life being entertained by cheesecake.”
Most power just looks like an easier-than-average life. It’s so built-in that people mostly don’t realise how powerful they are. Like, the average middle-class person in the US is one of the 3 percent richest people in the world. Thus, they’re probably one of the most powerful people in the world. But, to them, they feel completely average.
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 be either:
People who have been victims of that sort of behaviour, or . . .
People who, if given power, will use it to hurt you.
@TheCADDY95: April May is pretty cute, but she ruins it by being completely full of herself.
@AprilMaybeNot: I mean, definitionally though, what else am I supposed to be full of? It’s just me in here. Well, me and an embarrassing number of Doritos.
And as a bonus, here’s a quote I liked from Hank’s acknowledgements . . . “I also want to thank every single person who ever says ‘You have to read this book!’ to a friend. I don’t care if it’s this book; I just want people to remind each other how wonderful books are.”
Thanks for reading, everyone! If you have an thoughts on this book, or are planning to read it, let me know in the comments.