An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green (The Carls, #1)

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is a first-contact story that is resolutely positive amidst anxiety, exploring fame, betrayal, and media spin in an information vacuum around a strange global event. The Carls are weird, the Dream is fantastic.

It’s a celebration of how weird and wonderful humans are, mixed with a sadness and anxiety that 1) not everyone sees it and 2) maybe those people are right. It’s ultimately hopeful, but it has an anxious and winding road to get there. The premise is wonderful and bizarre, there’s a lot of fun and clever things, and a very strong message of the collective good that we can do when we work together to solve problems, even very weird problems.

The tone is generally upbeat but this isn't a light book. It's about a turning point, a global tragedy, xenophobia, and how people react to these kinds of things. It's also feels determined to say that while not everything will be okay, how we choose to react in the aggregate can make a huge difference, for good or for ill. It does all this while staying laser-focused on one person's story and I think it pulls it off well.

This was a stressful read because a lot of it is about someone having a lot of things to be concerned about, and then being anxious about even more things because that’s how anxiety works. While that made for a stressful reading experience, it also made it very relatable. The mixture of frank delivery and the narrator assuming that I, the reader, lived in the version of history that she did, one where these events happened, left the feeling that I was in suspense, and the author knew I’d be in suspense, but the narrator of the story did not. It’s far from the first book to do this, but it added to the theme of anxiety that permeates the book. It’s also very much a book about fame, how no one is really ready for it, and how much harder it makes it to be a person, to feel at home in your skin once you’re well-known enough.

I love all the stuff with the Dream. The focus is managed so that while people in the book are freaking out pretty much constantly over everything, the reader always has a fresh mystery, some new facet to explore. 

It’s a good book, it’s a weird book, I liked it and I definitely recommend it. I hope there’s a sequel because I want to find out what happens next.

Book CWs for biphobia, gore, visceral descriptions of traumatic events.


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