An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
In a world of James Pattersons, Janet Evanonviches, and Stephen Kings, it can be hard to get noticed. Believe me. I know. So, when I have the opportunity to read and showcase a debut author, I take it.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, Hank Green
I've gone back and forth on my star rating for this one. It was a three. Then we discussed it at book club on Saturday and now it's a four.
April May is, first of all, an unfortunate name, and, on top of that, she has an awful, terrible personality. I *think* that's on purpose. This book is absolutely about social media, so it was an interesting discussion for sure. Two of our members, I being one of them, are very involved on social media and branding and all the nonsense that comes with it. So, if you can relate to that at all, you can maybe understand where April May is coming from. You probably won't like her, it's almost impossible, guys, but you may understand her a little bit.
So, what's this book about? To me, it's about social media and extremist. To get the point across, Hank Green uses the Carls. The Carls are ten foot robots that appear in sixty-four major cities across the globe at exactly the same time. April May stumbles upon New York Carl -or does she? - calls her friend Andy to film it, and is set on a trajectory she has zero control over. All she knows is, she has branded herself as a Carl supporter and now, even when things go sideways, she has to stick to her guns. Because followers. She has literally millions. She is obsessed with keeping them and spreading her message. She's an extremist in her own right; making risky decisions on behalf of humanity all while being a genuine dirt bag to everyone around her.
Then there are the Defenders. Folks who absolutely believe the Carls are a threat. These two groups have their moderates and their extremists...it's almost like this book is a reflection of our current political and social climate and uses alien robots as a catalyst....oh, wait, that's precisely what this book is. It's an interesting read. It's a sci-fi, which isn't a genre I read often, but it is 100% relevant to today and also Earth.
Oh, I also thought it was really clever that Carl communicates with us via music. There are three musical references in this book, a Queen song, a Bowie song, and Call Me Maybe by Carly Ray Jepsen. It makes a ton of sense that Carl would communicate via Freddie Mercury and David Bowie because, if there were ever two aliens in disguise, it was ttalhose two. I *really* wish the third musical reference would have been a Talking Heads song. Two reasons, April May is a literal talking head. She goes on news programs spouting her opinion at anyone and everyone. And, secondly, David Byrne is a space alien. I've seen the man IRL. He is an alien.
So, if you feel the overwhelming, crushing burden of maintaining a social media presence, defining and sticking to your brand, getting and maintaining an audience without revealing too much of your actual self, this book is for you. You'll get it. Plus, Carl is pretty dope.