I recently picked up a copy of "An Absolutely Remarkable Thing" by Hank Green. The book follows the story of April, a 23-year-old that becomes an overnight sensation when she accidentally makes first-contact with alien life. It then turns into a robot/alien mystery as well as an exploration of what it's like to be famous in this age.
Going into the book, I didn't want to have high expectations. I used to love his brother John Green's books when I was in middle in high school. But after rereading "The Fault In Our Stars" as a 20-year-old, I wasn't as big of a fan. Also, it's Hank Green's debut novel.
However, as I finally started reading the book, I was completely floored. Somehow, Hank Green has written an adult story in the narrative style of a YA novel. April feels like a real person, using her strong character traits and the power of hindsight to ground us in an otherwise pretty fantastical story.
The alien plot itself is very interesting. I couldn't put the book down because I was so consumed with curiosity about what the puzzles that the aliens (or as they're called in the book, Carls) left meant.
But what kept me intrigued was the underlying theme of fame in the age of the internet. It is so relevant this year and keeps getting more and more relevant every year.
As April gets more fame and notoriety, she just craves even more of it. And the bigger her audience grows, the more disconnected she becomes from her loved ones. She seeks more attention from her audience than the actual people in her life.
As YouTubers, Instagram models, Twitch streamers, etc. become more popular around the world, this connection to and dependence on social media increases too. People who are famous on the internet rarely talk about how they interact with their audience as opposed to people they know in real life. They also don't talk about the sacrifices they make in order to become a brand.
In fact, one of the most compelling parts of the whole novel is when (minor spoiler alert) April is told to hide her bisexuality and instead either choose "straight" or "lesbian" as a part of her branding to be more easy for her audience to understand. It's a great commentary on bisexual erasure in media nowadays as well as how she has to change in order to be famous.
On the topic of April's bisexuality, I also enjoyed how understated it was. Of course, I love LGBTQ+ coming out stories, but it was refreshing to see that the fact that April has a girlfriend at the start of the book rather than a boyfriend is not made into a big deal at all. The only people who make it a big deal are the audience members, not any of the main characters themselves.
This book gives readers so much to think about, which is why I loved it so much. After closing the book, my mind was still swirling with theories about the Carls and insights into the themes. Only great books have that kind of effect on readers.
Overall, I highly recommend "An Absolutely Remarkable Thing" and cannot wait for the sequel to come out!