An Absolutely Remarkable Thing
|Published||September 25, 2018|
|Media type||Print, e-book|
|Followed by||A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor|
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a science fiction novel by American author Hank Green. It was published on September 25, 2018, by Dutton Books, and is Green's debut novel. Announced on September 19, 2017, the novel is the first of a two-book deal, followed by A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor.
Protagonist April May discovers a large robot sculpture in Midtown Manhattan. She and her friend Andy Skampt decide to film it and post the video online, which goes viral and makes April an overnight celebrity. All over the world identical structures—known as "Carls"—have appeared in major cities at exactly the same time.
It turns out that there are 64 Carls distributed in cities across the globe, which have miraculously appeared at once. As well, gradually almost all of humanity find themselves entering an interactive Dream when they sleep, within an identical landscape filled with puzzles that provide clues when solved. Over the course of a few months April and her friends work to solve the codes and riddles of the Carls through the Dream.
Several governments restrict access to Carls, leading April to become more politically active, which leads to April being interviewed on one news show alongside the conservative pundit Peter Petrawicki, who has written an already bestselling 20-page book called Invaded arguing that the Carls, representing a foreign invader, could be dangerous. For the following months, April cultivates a friendly persona, and writes her own book, saying that people should use the social internet in a positive way to work together at solving the sequences, some of which require specific knowledge and collaboration.
April then tries to solve the final clue, a unique sequence only she has access to, which would complete the vector image. After she discloses to the public that the 767 sequence exists, Robin tells her that the Defenders have solved it. Miranda gives April the apparent solution: a nearby address and the words, "Only April. No One Else." In her haste to beat the Defenders to the solution, April rushes to the address against Maya's advice, where she finds a large empty warehouse. She live-streams herself on Facebook, expecting to communicate with Carl. The warehouse is a trap, however, the product of tampered hex numbers.
April is locked in the warehouse, which becomes engulfed in flames. Facebook commentators realize that the lyrics to a song playing in the warehouse—David Bowie's "Golden Years"—have been changed to say, "In every town around the world each of us must be touched with gold". In an epiphany, April tells her hundred-million-strong worldwide audience to touch a sample of gold to each of the Carls simultaneously. The police tell April to break a window and jump out, but after she does so, a burning wooden beam falls on, crushes, and presumably kills April.
April, suddenly transported into the Dream, talks to Carl and learns that Carl indeed arrived to observe humanity. In addition, Carl specifically picked April to make First Contact.
In the real world, New York Carl launches into the air, and every Carl in the world simultaneously vanishes. In the next few weeks, the world reacts to April's death, and The Defenders are completely discredited for their actions. Eventually, the world returns to normal. Months later, Andy hears a knock at his door and receives a text from April saying, "Knock Knock".
Green had been working on An Absolutely Remarkable Thing since approximately 2013; he had initially planned it to be a graphic novel, but later decided to turn it into a novel. He wrote about 40,000 words of the novel during NaNoWriMo in 2015. While writing, he drew inspiration from Dune and Michael Connelly's series starring the character Harry Bosch. Green describes the book as a work of speculative fiction. Green revealed the working title of the novel was April May and New York Carl. A sequel to the book, titled A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor, was released July 7, 2020.
The book received generally positive reviews. The review aggregator website Book Marks reported that 25% of critics gave the book a "rave" review, whilst 50% of the critics expressed "positive" impressions, based on a sample of eight reviews. Reviews have focused on the book's humor as well as the deep knowledge of online community and internet fame that Green weaves into the story. The Washington Post calls it a "thrilling journey," a blend of "humor, mystery, and science fiction" that "takes a hard look at the power of fame and our willingness to separate a person from the brand." Alexis Gunderson of Paste writes, "It’s not in the nature of a sci-fi comedy blockbuster to shift boulders in your soul. But with his debut novel, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, Hank Green pulls it off." Gunderson continues, describing the novel as "deeply human" and challenging, noting that "there is, in the end, a gigantic mystery that Green leaves wide open." This ending, Publishers Weekly warned, may leave some unsatisfied, and they suggested it may be setting up a sequel.
- Dutch, transl. Karin de Haas: Een Zeer Opmerkelijk Verschijnsel (2018)
- German, transl. Katarina Ganslandt: Ein Wirklich Erstaunliches Ding (2019)
- Brazilian Portuguese, transl. Lígia Azevedo: Uma Coisa Absolutamente Fantástica (2018)
- Turkish, transl. Çiçek Eriş: Gerçekten Harika Bir Şey (2020)
- Finnish, transl. Kaisa Kattelus: Ihan mieletön juttu (2019)
- Danish, transl. Randi Bjerre Høfring: Et fuldstændig fantastisk fænomen (2018)
- Green, Hank. "I Wrote a Book. I WROTE A BOOK. How did I do that?". YouTube. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
- Schaub, Michael. "Hank Green, YouTube star and brother of John Green, will publish his first novel". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 21 September 2017.
- Alter, Alexandra (19 September 2017). "YouTube Star Hank Green Will Publish His First Novel Next Year". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
- "Hank Green on Twitter". January 18, 2018. Retrieved December 29, 2018.
I wrote about 40,000 words of An Absolutely Remarkable Thing during 2015 Nanowrimo.
- Green, Hank (August 8, 2018). "Pissed Off About Genres". YouTube. Retrieved August 8, 2018.
- Hank, Green. "21: Keeping Track of Cups (with Hank Green)". The Unmade Podcast. Retrieved 2019-01-10.
- "Hank Green's 'A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor' Release Announced". Nerds and Beyond. 2019-11-30. Retrieved 2020-05-13.
- Green, Hank. "My Novel: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is available for pre-order. Let me know if you have any questions I might be able to answer!". /r/nerdfighters. Reddit. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
- "An Absolutely Remarkable Thing". Book Marks. Retrieved November 3, 2018.
- Ray, Lincee (2018-09-24). "Review: Novel by Hank Green Is Out of This World." The Washington Post. Retrieved from WashingtonPost.com, 2018-09-29.
- Gunderson, Alexis (2018-09-25). "An Absolutely Remarkable Thing Establishes Hank Green as One of the Most Humane Voices of Our Time." Paste.com. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
- "Fiction Book Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing" (2018-07-09). Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from PublishersWeekly.com, 2018-09-29.
- Canfield, Mark (2018-09-21). "Hank Green's novel An Absolutely Remarkable Thing disappoints: EW review." EW.com. Retrieved 2018-11-09.
- Green, Hank. ""A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor" continues the story of Maya, Andy, Miranda, and April(?) as their world gets weirder...and worse". Twitter. Retrieved 28 November 2019.