Trigger warnings: Violence, graphic scenes of injury including being burned
Synopsis: 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 armor--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--everywhere from Beijing to Buenos Aires--and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center 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.
Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing was an experience. I didn't like April at all. I found her to be quite selfish. I assume that was Hank's intention, but it made reading from her perspective a bit of a chore. I just think she's a very bad person and it seems like the story is supposed to teach her that she's a bad person, but I don't know if it actually succeeds. I didn't care much for Andy either. He seemed like a pushover which was almost as infuriating as April's character.
I'm leaving this book unrated mostly because of the story. I liked the premise a lot. The mystery around the Carls and what they mean was intriguing. I liked the Dream aspect and how there were smaller mysteries or puzzles to solve inside of this larger mystery. That being said, a lot of what the characters were able to do was because of their fame and their endless supply of money. Even when a character points out how much money they're spending, it never really seems like much of a concern. I watch a variety of people on YouTube, some with a substantial following and others with smaller followings, but they usually aren't allowed to talk about how much they make from their videos. I don't know if that's a YouTube rule, or something they can't break because of companies they're partnered with, but something about April talking about how much money they make off of videos made me deeply uncomfortable. That being said, my scope of YouTube and making money from online services is very narrow, which is a big part of why I'm leaving this unrated. My experience is vastly different from Hank's and I recognize that. I feel like, at its core, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing meant to be a story about the world coming together for a single cause. That is something I didn't quite buy. Again, maybe my view is different. I know Hank has helped with things like Project for Awesome so he has probably seen the world come together in ways that I have not. Just, from my personal experience, I have a hard time believing things would work out quite the same as they do in this book.
An enjoyable story, but had me questioning a few things.