Genre: Contemporary Sci-Fi, New Adult
Publication Date: 25th September, 2018
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Carls just appeared. Coming home from work 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 armour – 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, and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the centre of an intense international media spotlight.
Now April has to deal with the pressure on her relationships, her identity and her safety that this new position brings, all while being on the front lines of the quest to find out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.
This is a sci-fi book, but not like any sci-fi book I’ve read before. Hank Green’s novel initially promises to be contemporary, and then slowly begins to weave in sci-fi elements, which was a very unique route to take. It surprised me because what I found within its pages was certainly not what I’d been expecting to find – but this was definitely one of my favourite things about the book.
First things first, I loved that the main character is flawed. She’s not a character you like straight away; some of the things she did were crappy and how she handled certain situations was frustrating. But this was a part of the book that I enjoyed a lot; I don’t tend to find the books I read have unlikable main characters, and I loved the brutal honesty of reading about a character that was real. People do stupid things and behave in ridiculous ways sometimes, and I appreciated the insight into why April acted in the ways that she did.
‘The power that each of us has over complete strangers to make them feel terrible and frightened and weak is amazing.’
I thought it was fascinating how this book explored the effects of social media, and the strange ways in which fame changes a person and their life. The author did a brilliant job of showing humanity – the different ways that people reacted to the Carls was something that felt so real, which made the book intense to read. What occurred in this book is something that could happen; Hank’s written a book that reflects how the world really is, and what it could be in the face of something that has yet to be encountered.
And the writing style! It was super easy to just fall into reading this book, and was difficult to stop. It was the perfect style and pacing for this type of read! The past couple of months have been pretty busy for me, so this is the first book I’ve finished reading in a little while, and I genuinely just couldn’t put it down – I was so wrapped up in the story, I needed to know what was going on with the Carls and what was going to happen with April and her friends.
I also wanted to mention that I’m very much an ‘advocate’ for the New Adult category in books – a lot of books that I’d classify as NA have started to be pulled into the YA section, which is kind of frustrating because they’re not YA. The more NA books that are mislabelled, the more NA books that will be overlooked and not published because it seems like there’s not a market for them. I’d love to see more NA books that are like An Absolutely Remarkable Thing being written and published!
‘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.’
This book was interesting and thought-provoking. If you’re interested in reading sci-fi that feels close to home, I definitely recommend this book. It looks at the way society reacts to significant events, closely reflecting the world and showing the possible reality if something like this were to happen. I’m looking forward to the sequel publishing later this year!