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An Absolutely Remarkable Thing | Hank Green | The Litertarian
At first I thought the title of this book, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, sounded a little pretencious, smug maybe. Arrogant. However, it turns out to not only fit the book perfectly, but to describe the thing itself. This book is an absolutely remarkable thing, and the best book I have read in some time. It’s the kind of story I think can be spoiled easily, so I am going to skip the book-report style summary and skip right to the details of what makes this book special. Although the book is very firmly science-fiction, its social commentary on our hyper-modern world has yet to be matched in my eyes. And who to tell such a story as the birth of a new almost-diety status celebrity who gains notoriety through the platform of YouTube & spends her new free time performing television interviews & navigating tweet storms while planning the next step of her success than Hank Green, one half of the vlogbrothers & internet sensation himself? More than the thrilling plot, which is compelling as hell, by the way, this book is about social culture in this country, and in our modern era as a whole. As a viral video turns Gen Z post-grad, April May (I mean, the name though), into an instant super-celebrity, she now has to navigate her new ambitions to keep up this new level of notoriety & attention, and more importantly, at first, the instant income. She joins twitter, releases a string of new YouTube videos, and essentially becomes a complete media guru in less than a month. Hank uses representative characters seamlessly, as a Gen Z narrator would (I say this because the youngsters always seem to have a better grasp on what the world is becoming than the ‘real adults’. Speaking as a Millenial myself). April May, the main character, is bisexual (and a commitment-phobe, hysterically), her roommate Maya is black, the super-smart geeky girl who helps them work through much of the plot & THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES are both women in this novel (and I believe the President was also black, although maybe that was just how I imagined her). It also somehow spans the entire population of the Earth, and references the species of humanity as a whole, the same type of biological identity for ALL of us, and that seems important too. The novel touches on other themes as well. Terrorism, fanaticism, obsession, addiction (not drug addiction, to be clear), inauthenticity, current social issues (like student loan debt), and some more pleasant ones too like art & the creative spirit of humanity, true friendship, and cooperation. It explores both the beauty and the horror the internet can be today: the fantastic way it has of connecting us and giving us a place to be truly ourselves, and the disgusting way that some people behave towards total strangers online, ripping into them with words they would likely never speak aloud. While he does describe and have some examples of the mob mentality people can assume in the online space, I thought it could have been discussed a little bit more specifically. April May has so many insights about the world around her – true observations, that I tend to completely agree with – and I would have liked to have seen her speak more on this. Maybe in the sequel… I think this book was also a great place for Hank to let his nerdiness shine. There are a lot of complex science and math concepts that occur in the plot, it is science fiction after all, and while remaining incredibly complex concepts, he does a good job of explaining them enough to keep the reader satisfied and informed enough to advance the plot further without leaving us behind. And hey, I learned a few new things too! This book, in short, is a must-read. And once you start, I dare you to try to put it down. Cheers, Pages | 352Publication Date | 2018Goodreads Page | An Absolutely Remarkable ThingBook Depository (affiliate link) | Paperback