Ariel Bissett, one of the few people I follow on Youtube, mentioned during this video about “A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor”. I was very intrigued by the long name. But is was a sequel, so I had to start with the first book – “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing”. I started reading it with no expectations, and I was a total stranger to Hank Green’s world. I must’ve lived under a rock until now.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing in a nutshell

Imagine you work late one night, and on your way back home you notice a huge sculpture that wasn’t there in the morning … I bet you would at least take a picture, maybe even post it on Instagram. Well, this is what happened to April, the main character of the book. Only that she made a Youtube video about the robot metallic-looking sculpture, calling it “Carl”, and the video went viral overnight. As Carls appeared simultaneously in multiple countries around the world, the happening put April in the international media spotlight. A blessing or a curse?

Overall impression

“An Absolutely Remarkable Thing” is a mystery-science-fiction story that tackles themes such as internet fame and media exposure, identity and sexuality, and has also a strong component of geekiness.

Reading this book was such an interesting experience! At the beginning I was quite skeptical – huge robot sculptures appear out of nowhere? But then I thought that when reading Murakami I can accept fish falling from the sky, so sculptures suddenly appearing sounds just as realistic πŸ™‚ And I am so happy that I went on reading, because soon I got hooked on the story and I just could not put the book down. It is addictive, just so you know.

One of the best reading spots I’ve even seen ❀

Being in the spotlight

The overarching topic of the book revolves around what happens when a normal person suddenly becomes famous. Hank Green said β€œYes, it’s about the dark side of fame on the internet, but it’s about the dark side of fame in general, the weirdness of it” (NY Times, 2018). The author used his own experience on fame, as he quite an impressively public figure – the Youtube channel of the Green brothers has more than 3 million (!!) subscribers and Hank has almost 1 million followers on Twitter.

As I am a private person in terms of online presence – I rarely post pictures with myself – the experiences of April sounded like a nightmare for me. It was fascinating to see that she was actually enjoying her fame (at least at some point) and that she was willing to expose herself so much.

When something remarkable happens

Another theme of the book relates to how human beings react when confronted with something remarkable, unusual. And I agree that the portrait of humanity as painted in the book is a good reflection of reality. Yes, there are good people out there, working hard for the Greater Good, but there is also a lot of divisiveness, hatred and violence. The easiest real life example at the moment is the Coronavirus pandemic, an unusual happening, with the mask wearers versus non-mask wearers.

Further reading

I definitely want to read the sequel – “A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor”. The first book ended with a HUGE cliffhanger, and my heart is already pounding at the thought that I will find out the answer pretty soon.

As a side note, I found this website for fans of the sequel book – atlasfuture.net. It has fun resources for reading, and the graphic design is very neat πŸ™‚

You can even listen to the playlists of the 4 most important characters of the story, curated by Hank Green

Wrap-up

Well … this book is absolutely remarkable! It is an intriguing blend of social, emotional, and techie themes that interweave in a captivating bookish fabric. I do recommend it if you’re into speculative fiction or if you’re looking into an unusual read for a holiday.

‘Till next time … happy reading!

Georgiana

One thought on “The dark side of fame and First Contact: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green (book review)

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